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But How Do It Know? - The Basic Principles of Computers for Everyone by [Scott, J Clark]
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But How Do It Know? - The Basic Principles of Computers for Everyone Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 213 pages Language: English

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Product Description

Finally, this brand new book exposes the secrets of computers for everyone to see. Its humorous title begins with the punch line of a classic joke about someone who is baffled by technology.

It was written by a 40-year computer veteran who wants to take the mystery out of computers and allow everyone to gain a true understanding of exactly what computers are, and also what they are not.

Years of writing, diagramming, piloting and editing have culminated in one easy to read volume that contains all of the basic principles of computers written so that everyone can understand them.

There used to be only two types of book that delved into the insides of computers. The simple ones point out the major parts and describe their functions in broad general terms. Computer Science textbooks eventually tell the whole story, but along the way, they include every detail that an engineer could conceivably ever need to know.

Like Baby Bear's porridge, But How Do It Know? is just right, but it is much more than just a happy medium. For the first time, this book thoroughly demonstrates each of the basic principles that have been used in every computer ever built, while at the same time showing the integral role that codes play in everything that computers are able to do.

It cuts through all of the electronics and mathematics, and gets right to practical matters. Here is a simple part, see what it does. Connect a few of these together and you get a new part that does another simple thing. After just a few iterations of connecting up simple parts - voilà! - it's a computer. And it is much simpler than anyone ever imagined.

But How Do It Know? really explains how computers work. They are far simpler than anyone has ever permitted you to believe. It contains everything you need to know, and nothing you don't need to know. No technical background of any kind is required.

The basic principles of computers have not changed one iota since they were invented in the mid 20th century. "Since the day I learned how computers work, it always felt like I knew a giant secret, but couldn't tell anyone," says the author. Now he's taken the time to explain it in such a manner that anyone can have that same moment of enlightenment and thereafter see computers in an entirely new light.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1613 KB
  • Print Length: 213 pages
  • Publisher: John C Scott; 1 edition (4 July 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F25LEVC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #134,933 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read about 1/3rd and find it easy to read. The presentation is in a simple narrative style rather than a technical style. explanation of the workings of memory, addresses and registers are built from an initial explanation of a NAND logic gate but use analogies that anyone should be able to understand.

I am a little frustrated reading this book as an ebook on kindle because the diagrams are a little on the small side and don't seem to be expandable. Also the diagrams are not indexed so it is not so easy to quickly go back to refresh your memory.

This book seems suitable to people who don't want to understand the logic underpinning computer processes without reference to electronics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book all the way through. I think Mr Scott explains all the concepts brilliantly. It is one of the most valuable book I have read so far as a programmer. And it was good fun!
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By malith on 6 December 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Simple and easy to understand
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 103 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It really is for Everyone 1 October 2016
By Ryan - Published on
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I am currently a 2nd year Electrical Engineering student and I am enrolled in a Digital Logic course. I found this subject to be very interesting and decided to research further into how computers use simple gates to do such complex functions. That is when I came across this book. Even with the little previous knowledge I had, this book broke everything down - from the simplicity of a register, to the building blocks of the RAM and CPU. It was enlightening to easily read more in depth on an otherwise extremely complex subject and finish the book with the knowledge of how most computers work. I highly recommend this book to my fellow Electrical and Computer engineering colleagues.

But don't think that just because engineering students find use of this book, that it is too complicated for those out of the discipline. The author does a great job of breaking down every little necessary nuance of each building block and thoroughly describes how each block works together to make a computer work; all wrapped up in a short ~200 page book. It is written without complex, technical jargon which avoids confusion wherever possible, and is readable by most who have a strong desire to learn more about how computers work.

This was such an interesting and informative read. Again, I highly recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest curiosity about how a computer works.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 26 July 2013
By Alex - Published on
Verified Purchase
Everything I learned from this book was absolutely necessary for my first steps to learning computers. I have more advanced books that will summarize this entire book within 30 pages- it was overwhelmingly to fast. This book has got me past that chapter and many more. My only complaint about this book was the first couple of chapters - of which were to basic for me, but if I didn't read "code" by Charles Petzold than these chapters would have been less repetitive for me and absolutely necessary. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. If you need help understanding this book, read the green book in the recommended list or code. All three of those books will give you a confident grasp on computers. "But - How do it know" helped me start on my fourth book inside the machine (more advanced; on 16, 32, and 64 bit computers).

If you want to make sure you understand everything, the order I read all four of these books started with the "green one"(Rodger young), "Code" (Charles Petzold), "But How do it know" (Clark Scott), and Inside The Machine (John Stokes)- not entirely finished with this one but is easy now. I understand everything %100 I have read in all of these books- but I believe the order I read the books helped me understand it all within a short amount of time. I am hoping to understand my fifth book "Elements on Computer Systems" (Noam Nissan) which a while back I thought looked like gibberish on paper. lol
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best explanation of a CPU I've ever seen 17 January 2016
By John R. Gregg - Published on
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I had always wanted a book like this. It is short, and explains how to make an admittedly primitive toy CPU out of individual logic gates. By the last page, you have a fully functional 8-bit CPU, and at no point does the prose rise above a level perfectly understandable to an average high schooler.

shameless plug: This would be a super companion to my own book, "Ones And Zeros" by John Gregg: Ones and Zeros: Understanding Boolean Algebra, Digital Circuits, and the Logic of Sets. Both Scott and I seem to be trying to use the same sort of voice, trying to hook the same sort of audience. My book talks more about the history and mathematical logic than Scott's, and thus does not go as far up the complexity ladder as the entire CPU. Read mine first, then Scott's. OK, plug over.

As I said, this book was a revelation. I had never seen a CPU laid out so clearly and simply. I would, however, have liked to have seen more gestures in the direction of how "real" CPUs work, at least a mention here or there. I don't think it would have been too big a digression to give a little more detail about how you might expand the address bus to 16 or 32 bits to make the whole thing actually useful. It might also have been nice to explain, briefly, in general terms, about pipelining, or microcode, or the idea behind finite state machines. I emphasize, I'd like just a hint of things like that, without a full, rigorous exploration, just to let the reader know the sorts of directions the real world takes using Scott's toy CPU as a starting point.

Quibbles though. Buy this book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, Clarity on a Complex Subject 13 July 2012
By Barrett Cunningham - Published on
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I have always been intimidated by computers. They seem ridiculously complex and overwhelming to understand. I wasn't happy having this feeling about something I used every day so I decided to try to learn a little more about them. I didn't realize it at the time, but computers are evidently very difficult to explain. Part of the reason for this I think is that there are so many areas of specialization in computers that no one seems able or willing to sit down and try to give a beginner a good overview of the subject that is simple yet detailed enough to allow them to walk away feeling like they learned what they wanted to know.

I think that may be why Mr Scott wrote this book. He genuinely wants you to understand how a computer works. He evidently spent a LOT of time designing the computer in this book. It is a fully functional computer and, from other research I have done, it actually works a lot like the computers we use every day. That is rare to find. There are many books out there that talk about the grand theories of computing but never get down into the hardware and what the wires and transistors are actually doing to make things work. Other books will try to build a very very basic computer with you but since it is just a teaching tool, you learn a lot of concepts about computing that don't really work well in reality. This book is the happy medium between the two, not too technical to be overwhelming and not so basic that its unhelpful.

If you are looking for a book that will help you understand how your computer works, this is it. There is no other book that I have found that can explain this subject in such a way that you walk away feeling like you finally have clarity on a subject that has been so fuzzy for so long. Its a good feeling, and I highly recommend this book to you if you are looking for that kind of clarity about computers as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it. Anyone who really wants to understand how ... 4 June 2016
By RVJ - Published on
Verified Purchase
I have always been interested in electronics and computers. My father was a old-time main frame COBOL and FORTRAN programmer and he was always very nebulous to me about how a computer actually worked. What I've always wanted to understand is how a computer uses basic physical principles (circuits) to generate logic - I understood Claude Shannon's original thesis on the idea of use simple relays for Boolean logic but I never made the jump to higher order processes. This book is the bridge! The author makes it very simplistic from the start and builds slowly to more complex ideas until - before you know it - you basically understand how the electronic circuits create the abstract ideas of registers/buses/memory address...etc.... Loved it. Anyone who really wants to understand how your program ultimately is broken down into the basics of circuits, this is the book for you.

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