© 2008

A Brief History of Computing

  • Gerard O’Regan

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIX
  2. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 1-25
  3. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 26-72
  4. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 73-102
  5. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 103-147
  6. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 149-177
  7. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 179-201
  8. Gerard O’Regan
    Pages 203-233
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 235-245

About this book


The history of computing has its origins at the outset of civilization. As towns and communities evolved there was a need for increasingly sophisticated calculations. This book traces the evolution of computation, from early civilisations 3000 B.C. to the latest key developments in modern times.

This useful and lively text provides a comprehensive introduction to the key topics in the history of computing, in an easy-to-follow and concise manner. It covers the significant areas and events in the field - from the ancient Egyptians through to the present day - and both gives the reader a flavour of the history and stimulates further study in the subject.


• Ideal for undergraduate courses, it offers many pedagogical features such as chapter-opening key topics, chapter introductions, exercises, chapter summaries, glossary, etc.

• Offers detailed information on major figures in computing, such as Boole, Babbage, Shannon , Turing and Von Neumann

• Includes a history of programming languages, including syntax and semantics

• Presents an overview of the history of software engineering

• Discusses the progress of artificial intelligence, with extension to such key disciplines as philosophy, psychology, linguistics, neural networks and cybernetics

• Examines the history of the Internet revolution, World Wide Web and Dot-Com Bubble

• Follows the evolution of a number of major technology companies such as IBM, Motorola and Microsoft

Focusing on the fundamental areas in the computing field, this clearly written and broad-ranging text will capture the attention of the reader and greatly benefit computer science students. In addition, it is suitable for self-study, and will also be of interest to the more casual reader.

Dr Gerard O’Regan is a CMMI software process improvement consultant with research interests including software quality and software process improvement; mathematical approaches to software quality; and the history of computing. He has published A Practical Approach to Software Quality and Mathematical Approaches to Software Quality.



artificial intelligence computer computer science formal method logic programming programming language

Editors and affiliations

  • Gerard O’Regan
    • 1
  1. 1.Mallow, Co. CorkIreland

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
IT & Software
Consumer Packaged Goods
Finance, Business & Banking


From the reviews:

"The history of computing is finding its way into the college curricula more often, and therefore the need for an accessible text on the subject is becoming greater. O’Regan’s book certainly merits careful consideration as an undergraduate text, as it has much to offer… Many books on computer science history emphasize only one or two areas – usually hardware development and the commercial history. This book is much broader in scope… it is more suitable for an undergraduate course than most other books… The book is a good size; it is not too big physically, and not too detailed for an undergraduate treatment or for a general reader who wants an overview that can be easily digested over a rainy weekend… O’Regan’s work manages to be both brief and broad in scope – a difficult task. This makes the book a valuable read and a good textbook." (M.D. Derk, ACM Computing Reviews)

"In summary, I believe this text delivers on its aim of being an introduction to the topic for a technical audience. The book’s main strength is the inclusion of software engineering approaches such as CMMI. This helps communicate a message that ‘computing’ is not just about calculation or data processing, but a complex topic that intersects with the history of business delivery, quality standards, and process governance." (Charles Care, BSHM Bulletin, Vol. 24, 2009)