Empire of the Sum: The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator


Product Details

$32.50  $30.23
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
5.84 X 8.59 X 1.2 inches | 1.27 pounds

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About the Author

Keith Houston is the author of Shady Characters and The Book. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Mental Floss, BBC Culture, and on Time.com. He lives in Birmingham, England.


Keith Houston unfolds a complex and fascinating history of numeracy, the evolution of technology, and the human desire to push our capabilities ever further. Deep, fun, and insightful all at once: my favorite type of technology book.--Cal Newport, New York Times best-selling author of Digital Minimalism and A World Without Email
Houston serves as a fantastically insightful and accessible tour guide on this charming journey of an oft-overlooked invention that changed the world and, in its demise, radically changed the world once again.--Blake J. Harris, author of The History of the Future and Console Wars
An entertaining, informative story about a technology that defined an era.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Empire of the Sum spans centuries and reaches across the universe, always coming back to humanity's craving for calculating machines in all their diverse forms. I dare you to reach the end of this book and not be irresistibly charmed by both the pocket calculator and Keith Houston's witty, gregarious prose.--Nathalia Holt, New York Times best-selling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls
Houston's narrative is full of oddballs, many of them brilliant...-- "New York Times Book Review"
Walking readers from a 42,000-year-old counting aid to digital spreadsheets, the book provides a breezy mathematical history tour through the development of number systems, slide rules, mechanical calculators and microchips.-- "Nature"
Houston's sprightly history aims to give the calculator the recognition it deserves as a stepping stone to the digital era... He makes a convincing case, in sum, for the significance of the calculator.-- "The Economist"