RAMs, ROMs, and Robots can be read easily by young people. Jespersen and Fitz-Randolph use many analogies to help readers understand complex concepts involving computer language, processes, and uses. For example, the authors explain how a computer stores and controls information by using the analogy of a library. The analogy begins simply by comparing a computer to the card catalog in the library in the way that it keeps track of information. The analogy becomes more complex as the computer is also likened not only to the books in the library but also to an index containing all the words in all the books in the library.
The information that the book provides about the early contributors to computer development is both enlightening and entertaining. Charles Baggage becomes more than a name to remember; the authors portray him as a real person who had both a genius for understanding mathematics and the inability to appreciate the meaning behind Tennyson’s poem because he could see only the inaccuracy of the computation. In the same way, the authors paint a vivid picture of Alan Turing as a small boy, uniquely solving a problem that caused his bicycle chain to slip. These anecdotes help young readers identify with these important people.
In their discussion about the inner workings of the computer and how it interprets data, the authors use uncomplicated language and illustrations to help young people comprehend a sample program. Readers come away with an appreciation for the difficulty in formulating commands for programs without having to be expert in computer languages. The authors give a clear explanation of the problems that can...
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RAMs, ROMs, and Robots, although somewhat dated in its information on the future of computers, is an important book for young readers. Too often, books about computers deal with one specific aspect, launch into details about applications, or use language that the young reader has difficulty understanding. In addition, many computer books omit information concerning the history of computer development.
Young people will have an interest in this book for three main reasons. First, while many of them are familiar with or even expert in using computers to help them calculate difficult problems or write papers and reports, most lack an appreciation for the history behind the development of modern computers, a basic understanding of how a computer processes information or carries out commands, and knowledge about solving simple command errors; James Jespersen and Jane Fitz-Randolph provide overviews of these areas. Second, after reading the book, young readers will be more familiar with why a computer does what it does and how better to utilize it as a tool.
A third reason that young people will want to read RAMs, ROMs, and Robots is that it will encourage them to discover future ways to use computers and robots. The authors give examples of ways in which technology is changing and how that change could affect computers in the future. Some of their examples from the mid-1980’s were already being applied a decade later.