RAMs, ROMs, and Robots Critical Essays

Jane Fitz-Randolph


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

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...

(The entire section is 682 words.)