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Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. Author Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her social history of the Broad Band, the women who Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. Author Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the internet what it is today. Learn from Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, who wove numbers into the first program for a mechanical computer in 1842. Seek inspiration from Grace Hopper, the tenacious mathematician who democratized computing by leading the charge for machine-independent programming languages after World War II. Meet Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler, the one-woman Google who kept the earliest version of the Internet online, and Stacy Horn, who ran one of the first-ever social networks on a shoestring out of her New York City apartment in the 1980s. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can't imagine life without. Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.


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Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. Author Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her social history of the Broad Band, the women who Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize. Author Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the internet what it is today. Learn from Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, who wove numbers into the first program for a mechanical computer in 1842. Seek inspiration from Grace Hopper, the tenacious mathematician who democratized computing by leading the charge for machine-independent programming languages after World War II. Meet Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler, the one-woman Google who kept the earliest version of the Internet online, and Stacy Horn, who ran one of the first-ever social networks on a shoestring out of her New York City apartment in the 1980s. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can't imagine life without. Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs.

30 review for Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marta

    Women invented computer programming and were instrumental at every turn where the hardware the boys created, but failed to think of its applications, needed to be put to use. After the girls have proven that this was serious science - the boys pushed them out if it.... again and again. Women would take over “fringe” areas (such as hypertext and social networks) but not taken seriously, until the men took over. This book explores the role of women in computing and the Internet. The first half is Women invented computer programming and were instrumental at every turn where the hardware the boys created, but failed to think of its applications, needed to be put to use. After the girls have proven that this was serious science - the boys pushed them out if it.... again and again. Women would take over “fringe” areas (such as hypertext and social networks) but not taken seriously, until the men took over. This book explores the role of women in computing and the Internet. The first half is strong, covering the early programming pioneers like Grace Hopper, the Eniac Six, Radia Pearlman. However, when she switches to online communities, the book becomes bogged down in boring details, repetitive office and dot-com stories. Perhaps the topic itself is boring - social networks are much better experienced than written about - but I suspect the writing style. I was skimming starting halfway through. I was also not happy that she cut off at the dot-com bust. Much development of women online has taken place since. If you are going to have a chapter on girl gamers, do some research now - gamergate, for example, the harrassment of women game programmers, but also the emergence of games that appeal to all sexes should have been covered. Instead Evans chooses to cover Purple Moon, a company who designed games that reinforced gender stereotypes, rather than fighting them. Boring, and a company that went bust for a good reason. Cyberfeminism is another chapter that singles out a short-lived and rather intellectually snobbish phenomenon - whereas the web now is abuzz with feminism of a very different, more real, more inclusive sort. It felt tacked on and weak. I am a programmer, early (1996) adopter of the Internet. I was a game developer in the late 90ies (yes, we also went down with the dot-com bust). I also have experienced the sexism, and the crazy phenomenon that while there were few women when I started, there are even less now. The boys have just gotten nastier - and no matter how good you are at your job, or how much you love it, there is only so much you can take before leaving. “I don’t know what you did but I don’t like it” was something a male collegue told me when he got angry at me for fixing some bugs - for which he should have been appreciative. Or whenever I said something, they would argue with me, then tell me that I had a personality problem of being argumentative. Or if I made an error, it was carelessness, if a man did, it was part of the job. So that sort of shit. Anyway, I am digressing. This book intensely interested me, and it sort of delivered in the first part, but the second part is a failure. I don’t even know what Evans was going for. You could come up with a much more interesting story of women on the internet - but you would have to include now. Also, use some more inventive style. I suggest taking pointers from women on the internet. Include photos, little extras, jokes... fun stuff. This book is just way too dry.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    This is an interesting book about the history of women coders, engineers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs as well as visionaries who helped create and shape the internet. Evans even discusses Ada Lovelace, the mathematician daughter of Lord Byron. The book is well written and researched. Evans is a journalist so the writing style is that of a journalist. Evans reviews the stories of women scientists such as the famous Grace Hopper, who worked on Harvard Mark One, to more recent women such as Stanfo This is an interesting book about the history of women coders, engineers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs as well as visionaries who helped create and shape the internet. Evans even discusses Ada Lovelace, the mathematician daughter of Lord Byron. The book is well written and researched. Evans is a journalist so the writing style is that of a journalist. Evans reviews the stories of women scientists such as the famous Grace Hopper, who worked on Harvard Mark One, to more recent women such as Stanford University scientist Elizabeth Feinler. She also includes programmer Brenda Laurel, a gamer entrepreneur. I found the story about Radia Perlman most interesting. Perlman invented a protocol for moving information to the way computers are networked. I had no idea so many women have achieved so much with so little recognition. I highly recommend this book. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is nine hours. The author narrated the book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    Every so often, you read a non-fiction book that just speaks to you, that sticks with you because it’s not just informative but because it fits your level of background knowledge and expands your understanding of a topic perfectly. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet is such a book for me. Claire L. Evans traces the development of the modern Internet from its precursors, the earliest mechanical and electronic computers, all the way to the present day—all through the l Every so often, you read a non-fiction book that just speaks to you, that sticks with you because it’s not just informative but because it fits your level of background knowledge and expands your understanding of a topic perfectly. Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet is such a book for me. Claire L. Evans traces the development of the modern Internet from its precursors, the earliest mechanical and electronic computers, all the way to the present day—all through the lens of the women who computed, built, designed, programmed, and shepherded us into the Information Age. Evans not only smashes the myth that women don’t like computers or programming; she demolishes the idea that women are a recent addition to the tech world. As Evans demonstrates, women were here first. Broad Band begins at the beginning. Evans goes all the way back to Ada Lovelace (I’m actually writing this review on Ada Lovelace Day—I should have timed this better so I could publish it today). I took the time to annotate and underline my copy of this book, because Evans just keeps saying it so well: Women turn up at the beginning of every important wave in technology. We’re not ancillary; we’re central, often hiding in plain sight. Evans goes on to demonstrate exactly how women were essential with each evolution and revolution of the tech industry. I loved reading about Grace Hopper and other early computer programmers. In particular, Evans notes about Hopper: Years later, when Grace was an established figure in the new field of computer programming, she’d always assign the hardest jobs to the youngest and least experienced members of her team. She figured they didn’t have the sense to know what was impossible. As a teacher, I love this. I love that mindset. But I digress—Hopper and the other early programmers did not have it easy like we do today. They were brilliant mathematicians who were then asked to translate their mathematical understanding into algorithms a computer, mechanical or electronic, might understand. Later, they were working with machine code. When I first started programming, I started with HTML and then interpreted languages like PHP and Python—I had it easy. Plus, because I’m a man, no one gave me a hard time. Tall, white, and nerdy, everyone just assumed I was good with computers. But Evans belies that stereotype: not only have women always been “good with computers” (hell, the first computers were literally women), but they come from all walks of life and have a vast diversity of cultural, political, and social backgrounds. Women are not a monolith. So Evans goes on to name-drop other significant individual women in STEM, even as we see the computer industry emerge from the post-war United States economic boom. She points out how “the professionalization of 'software engineering' marked a sea change in the gender demographics of computing”—i.e., once programming turned into a profession rather than simply a menial job, suddenly it became men’s domain instead of women’s, despite the nature of the task remaining the same. Evans does not limit herself to the discussion of the “hard” aspects of computer science either. She showcases the pioneering efforts of women in building communities online. I was so entranced by the section on Jake Feinler, who ran the NIC in its early days and was essentially the equivalent of WHOIS and Google all rolled into one. This was a part of the history of the Internet I had literally never heard of before, and here it is, laid bare and told clearly and humorously by Evans and the people she interviewed. Similarly, I had never heard of ECHO or women.com or any of these other early ventures. I had never heard of Microcosm or early adventures into hypertext that pre-date the World Wide Web. Seriously, this book is so dense and rich with information yet so easy to read. And it highlights that how a story and history are told really affects the way people conceptualize our understanding of technology. The idea that “Tim Berners-Lee” “invented” the “World Wide Web” is such a gross oversimplification—and you don’t have to read this book to know that, but Evans provides such a rich context into these events, which were all happening when I was a young’un. Also, I really appreciate that Evans highlights how the Internet and the World Wide Web did not become the utopian cyberspace dream that many people (of various genders) hoped it would be. She catalogues the seemingly inevitable decline of the frontier of the Web, pointing out that the Web didn’t fix our problems with community—we just brought those problems online with us. This might seem painfully obvious to those of us who spend too much time on places like Twitter these days, but it was not a foregone conclusion in the early days of the Web—and there are still too many people now who think that just one more brilliant technological solution, one more killer app, might somehow fix what is ultimately a social problem—we just love being jerks towards each other. Similarly, Evans takes some time to acknowledge and include trans women in this discussion. She highlights the difficulties that some trans women encountered: even as the Internet made it possible for them to express their gender identity safely when it might not be possible to do so in their offline lives, if they were out as trans online, they could face exclusion from “women-only” spaces. Evans recounts one particularly difficult moment in the history of ECHO in this record. I wish she had done a little more—she could have mentioned people like Lynn Conway or Danielle Bunten Berry. I realize that perhaps she was limited for space, or perhaps she would prefer to leave that for an #ownvoices author—but trans women are women, and their stories and experiences in the “untold story of the women who made the Internet” are valuable and deserve inclusion. So, kudos to Evans for mentioning this topic, could do better next time. Overall: for young millennials like myself, that generation born in the late 1980s/early 1990s who were old enough to embrace the Web pre–social media but are too young to appreciate its origins, Broad Band is essential reading. I can’t really comment on what people much older than me (people for whom this is contemporaneous history) or younger than me (the so-called “digital native” generation for whom smartphones have always existed) might make of this. For someone my age, someone with a more-than-passing-interest in the history of technology and computers and how this has shaped our society, Broad Band is just phenomenal. I learned so much from this book; it is so well-written; and it is such a great tribute to the plethora of women who have been erased, overlooked, or under-appreciated for far too long.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I enjoyed this historical review of computer technology and the origins of the Internet. You've likely heard of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, but past that was mostly new territory for me. I liked the author's style and depth of research. The author takes things as they come, but women in computer tech have had a tough time from the start: in the pre-electronics days, a "computer" was a person with a mechanical calculator, and the bosses generally hired women because they would work for half th I enjoyed this historical review of computer technology and the origins of the Internet. You've likely heard of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, but past that was mostly new territory for me. I liked the author's style and depth of research. The author takes things as they come, but women in computer tech have had a tough time from the start: in the pre-electronics days, a "computer" was a person with a mechanical calculator, and the bosses generally hired women because they would work for half the pay of men, and were more conscientious and reliable too. The pay is better now, but women still aren't welcomed into most computer-tech jobs. The book avoids histrionics, but my impression is that the men enjoy playing alpha-male games, and the industry is poorer for discouraging almost half of the potential talent pool. And a lot of the problems in (for example) the social-media companies would likely be better handled by smart, savvy, consensus-building technical women. That's what they did, when given the chance. But most of the qualified technical women have decided to do something else because, well, read the book. My favorite story is about Dr. Brenda Laurel, Combat Epistemologist -- a pioneer game designer for teen and preteen girls. Games that were popular, genuinely educational and commercially successful. Sadly, her company didn't survive the dot.com collapse. And no one else seems to be selling such games for girls. Recommended for people in the industry, especially women. The future could be better!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This was a detailed, in-depth look at the contributions of women pioneers in computer science, the internet, and the web. The book is an example of well-done historical storytelling -- lots of interviews, stories, and first-person accounts discussing topics familiar and unfamiliar. Many of the anecdotes were things I'd never known about before, but sounded like something I would have wanted to be a part of. The research was thorough and the featured women were carefully selected to cover an inte This was a detailed, in-depth look at the contributions of women pioneers in computer science, the internet, and the web. The book is an example of well-done historical storytelling -- lots of interviews, stories, and first-person accounts discussing topics familiar and unfamiliar. Many of the anecdotes were things I'd never known about before, but sounded like something I would have wanted to be a part of. The research was thorough and the featured women were carefully selected to cover an interesting mix of topics. I thought the story got more interesting after the now-well-known tales of Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. We ventured into all kinds of interesting territories in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, fascinating stories about early computers and programming, pre-web internet communities, and a much more vibrant Silicon Alley than I had ever known. It made me nostalgic for an internet I'd never known -- and reinforced my belief that those times would never come again. It was an interesting choice to end the narrative at the dot-com bust, but appropriate -- many of the stories of the early 21st century are still in progress, and another book or author will have to do them justice. This was an engaging and quick read. I listened on audio. Broadly recommended for anyone interested in the history of computing, women's history, or great narrative history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    Very interesting, highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Louis

    A book where I had trouble deciding which paragraphs *not* to highlight. Incredible combination of original research, narrative, and politics.

  8. 5 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    Who made the Internet? Popular culture might have you picture a young, white, nerdy man as the architect and designer, the artist and innovator, behind the Internet. Maybe he’s arrogant and standoffish. Maybe he’s shy and brilliant. He probably wears glasses. There are people like him in the story of the Internet, but his story isn't the only one. There are lots of other people who contributed to creating this valuable resource--hundreds of stories behind the making of the Internet. Women also m Who made the Internet? Popular culture might have you picture a young, white, nerdy man as the architect and designer, the artist and innovator, behind the Internet. Maybe he’s arrogant and standoffish. Maybe he’s shy and brilliant. He probably wears glasses. There are people like him in the story of the Internet, but his story isn't the only one. There are lots of other people who contributed to creating this valuable resource--hundreds of stories behind the making of the Internet. Women also made the Internet, and their stories can help us understand their contributions. It is only if we can find those stories to tell others. The Internet is a complicated thing. It was built by people working over several generations, reacting to numerous forces, and working towards different goals. Women were there writing computer languages, programming computers, setting up social service directories, creating methods of navigating ARPANET, creating online communities, and building businesses. They were inventing and innovating, but they were often overlooked, or silenced. For example, when the women who programmed the ENIAC were photographed next to it, the photograph’s caption called them models. These women deserve to have their stories told while they are around to talk about their experiences. Information on the Internet isn’t static and it isn’t permanent. Operating systems and media become obsolete. Old programming languages are superseded by new ones. Links die. A magazine published on a floppy disk in 1992 is virtually unplayable today. Luckily, Claire L. Evans was able to find and interview many of the women in her book, Broad Band: The untold story of the women who made the Internet. With input from the women, from their friends and coworkers, Evans shares their stories. With compassion and a keen eye researching primary sources, she sheds light on how the Internet came to be what it is today. Reviewed by Andrea Borchert, Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Department

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    When the ENIAC was first displayed for the public, its proponents bragged that it could do complex mathematical calculations in seconds which would have taken a skilled man hours upon hours. Well...baloney. The ENIAC was an admirably complex array of metal, but without the human beings who had pored over its every component, turning their brains into maps of circuit boards, creating the very language that was needed to put that array of metal to work -- it was useless. Hours and hours of human e When the ENIAC was first displayed for the public, its proponents bragged that it could do complex mathematical calculations in seconds which would have taken a skilled man hours upon hours. Well...baloney. The ENIAC was an admirably complex array of metal, but without the human beings who had pored over its every component, turning their brains into maps of circuit boards, creating the very language that was needed to put that array of metal to work -- it was useless. Hours and hours of human effort had gone into that little calculation, but they weren't man-hours. The programmers of the ENIAC were six women, descendants of the calculating computer pools of the late 19th century. Broad Band is their story, and the story of other lady pioneers of the computer age. I'll admit that I had no idea any of these women existed. Histories of of early computing and the internet are a favorite of mine, but I usually begin further along in the story, with more user-friendly machines like the PDP-10 and the advent of networks. I was a little leery of the book given the asinine blurb on the back -- "alpha nerds and brogrammers"? Really? Thankfully, the funny title brought me, and glad I am because I never heard of these women...and some of them are really worth knowing. Grace Hopper, for instance, was deeply involved in the Harvard Mark-1 and the UNIVAC, and she pionered the use of subroutines to speed up coding, as well as created the first compilers. COBOL, which at one time was the language of 80% of existing code, was based on her work. A woman once refused admittance to the services during World War 2 because of her age would become a Rear Admiral before her life's computing work was done. Another remarkable subject here is Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler, whose Network Information Office created and maintained a directory of...the internet. Working for the still-nascent ARPANet, Feinler was the master of all information about it. Her team also created many basic protocols, both under-the-hood things most users wouldn't recognize as well as creating the original web extension: ".com". The women who follow were also trail-blazers, experimenting with social networks (New York's "ECHO" bbs, which could boast a 40% female population), as well as digital magazines distributed on floppy disks. Surprisingly, ECHO is still around, though other projects like Word magazine are long gone. Broad Band effectively mixes biography and tech history, and the goal from the start doesn't overshadow the actual content. That is, most of the subjects should be included in histories of web regardless of their sex, given their importance. I say most because I'm not sure about the website creators of the nineties; I don't know enough about the web at that transitional moment to read Broad Band in context. There were some claims that seemed specious, like references to Al Gore being the key player in making the internet a thing known to the public, and there's a huge discrepancy in the estimate given for ECHO membership. Evans says it peaked at 40,000, while The Atlantic marks the peak as...2,000. There's no way of knowing which is more accurate, but given that it was only accessible via a paid membership, I'm tempted to think Evans' is closer -- she interviewed the ECHO host herself. The meat of the book seems to get leaner and leaner as it wears on, until at the end we're reading about how computers are couched in "masculine" language like..."crash" and "execute". Despite the late-game weaknesses, there's a lot of fun information here about how the web as we know it evolved.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pallavi Mohan

    This. This piece of work resonated with me more than most works have, probably because I lived the history Evans talks about in her closing chapters - the dawn of the hypertext, an entire girlhood searching for female role models in computer science, searching for community and kinship within a forest of hyperlinks - and now, the foray into a field in academia that has a glaring dearth of female representation. Evans gives voice to the unacknowledged, and resurrects on paper the long-diminished This. This piece of work resonated with me more than most works have, probably because I lived the history Evans talks about in her closing chapters - the dawn of the hypertext, an entire girlhood searching for female role models in computer science, searching for community and kinship within a forest of hyperlinks - and now, the foray into a field in academia that has a glaring dearth of female representation. Evans gives voice to the unacknowledged, and resurrects on paper the long-diminished achievements of female computer scientists - women who were the actual gamechangers much before men claimed the titles. It is a book that's also immensely relatable for every girl (and boy) growing up in the 80s and 90s when the Internet was spreading its wings at a rate that was at once tentative and explosive. It is as much an ode to the forces behind this phenomenon as it is to the early set of users that contributed to the Internet's wild success. And between the pages of such a book, I found a little bit of my own voice.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Vicky

    I had to take a detour in my mind while reading this book to recall 1998-99—the time when I first connected to the Internet on the boxy Compaq machine that my family had at home, thanks to my older cousin who helped us set up a NetZero account. I remember the year before, when it was my turn to state to my classmates what I wanted to be in the future, I said "computer programmer" without fully knowing what it meant. I was in the middle of the chapter about the Echo community in New York when I g I had to take a detour in my mind while reading this book to recall 1998-99—the time when I first connected to the Internet on the boxy Compaq machine that my family had at home, thanks to my older cousin who helped us set up a NetZero account. I remember the year before, when it was my turn to state to my classmates what I wanted to be in the future, I said "computer programmer" without fully knowing what it meant. I was in the middle of the chapter about the Echo community in New York when I got nostalgic about spending my teen years growing up on Delphi Forums, Xanga, and LiveJournal. I also miss the feeling of anonymity, clicking links without hesitation to explore websites I have not visited before, playing chess with strangers on Yahoo, publishing bad websites using Dreamweaver and GeoCities, the notification sounds of AOL Instant Messenger. . . But I am here at the end of 2018, where I just finished reading "the untold story of the women who made the internet," which was all new information for me and as enjoyable as watching episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess or reading fan fiction that corrects the canonical narrative by adding more back- and side- stories of those who made significant contributions but who were egregiously written out or forgotten in the first place. I also really like Claire Evans's prose style and the seamless way she threads all these moments together. While this book is not going to comprehensively profile everyone ever involved, it was a good introduction for me to meet people like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, the ENIAC 6, Jake Feinler, Jaime Levy and learn about projects like the Social Services Referral Directory, so that I have more tech role models beyond Jenny Calendar. I feel more situated with historical context now to understand details like why computers were beige, how whois registration was developed, the origin of COBOL which I have seen appear in PeopleSoft at work, the appearance of "software engineer" as a title, and how much of ourselves we put into the programs we create for the machine (inspired to visit Mammoth Cave National Park now, too).

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans is fascinating. How is this not more common knowledge? I liked getting to know the historical aspects of Ada Lovelace and her work, but over the course of the book I was hoping for more of a focus on more modern history. Of course, that historical backing gives us a good foundation for what's coming. Overall, the information of the women who worked oftentimes behind the scenes, is presented in an understandable wa Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans is fascinating. How is this not more common knowledge? I liked getting to know the historical aspects of Ada Lovelace and her work, but over the course of the book I was hoping for more of a focus on more modern history. Of course, that historical backing gives us a good foundation for what's coming. Overall, the information of the women who worked oftentimes behind the scenes, is presented in an understandable way, even if you're not much of a computer person. It's odd knowing that so much of the information presented is within my own lifetime and just thinking about how much has changed in the last 30 years. If you enjoyed Hidden Figures, this is a must read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    It was interesting to learn about women's role in the history of computing, hypertext, and the Internet. However, there were two ways this book fell short for me. First, Evans seemed to only focus on one type of woman: the counterculture, feminist, riot grrl. Surely not every woman who contributed to computers and the Web fits into this mold. Second, the author talks way to much about herself. For example, she constantly said things like Nancy told me x, y, and z. The book would have flowed bett It was interesting to learn about women's role in the history of computing, hypertext, and the Internet. However, there were two ways this book fell short for me. First, Evans seemed to only focus on one type of woman: the counterculture, feminist, riot grrl. Surely not every woman who contributed to computers and the Web fits into this mold. Second, the author talks way to much about herself. For example, she constantly said things like Nancy told me x, y, and z. The book would have flowed better if she merely quoted Nancy without bringing herself into the scene. BTW. the author is a counterculture, feminist, riot grrl, something I wouldn't have known if she hadn't constantly told me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I got this out from the library as an ebook and it's fine. I can definitely see the audience for this, but I had a tough time. Every time I went to go read it on the train I wanted to look out the window instead. Each person felt like they were really discussed for so long with the same points over and over - I would have loved a "highlights" or New Yorker review style piece with this same topic. That's not to say it doesn't deserve book-length treatment, just that I personally wasn't that into I got this out from the library as an ebook and it's fine. I can definitely see the audience for this, but I had a tough time. Every time I went to go read it on the train I wanted to look out the window instead. Each person felt like they were really discussed for so long with the same points over and over - I would have loved a "highlights" or New Yorker review style piece with this same topic. That's not to say it doesn't deserve book-length treatment, just that I personally wasn't that into it. It's due back and the library and I'm going to cut my losses.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Very interesting history of women and computers. The chapters on the Internet were especially interesting since I felt like I should know it because I lived through it, but I learned a lot.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Ross

    Where some could read the title of the book, Broad Band, and fear that the book will be a dismantling of the efforts of men (and therefore may approach the book with hesitation) others will approach the book wanting such a dismantling. But the book never comes across as aggressive or anti-male. Rather, it simply corrects the common history. The presence of women in technology have largely been buried and in some cases literally cropped out. Broad Band introduces us to the women behind the variou Where some could read the title of the book, Broad Band, and fear that the book will be a dismantling of the efforts of men (and therefore may approach the book with hesitation) others will approach the book wanting such a dismantling. But the book never comes across as aggressive or anti-male. Rather, it simply corrects the common history. The presence of women in technology have largely been buried and in some cases literally cropped out. Broad Band introduces us to the women behind the various technologies that culminated to what we know as the Internet including their work on the earliest military computers through to the punk culture that seeded the personal-made-public ethos that is the Internet as we know it today. Perhaps most unexpected to me is that Broad Band can be read as a general history of the Internet, and the aim to correct the male-focused history often feels secondary. This just goes to show how integral these women were to the creation of the Internet. Claire L. Evans isn’t stretching to force women into important roles to make a story. The important roles and the story are simply made up of women. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex Johnson

    I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but as someone who is peripherally involved with computer science I was intrigued by this topic. If you are interested in learning more about how the internet came to be and the overall importance of women in computing, this book is a satisfactory introduction. Evans did a nice job throughout the book honing in on specific women and movements and how they helped build technology today. The writing wasn't phemonal, but there were a few lines I enjoyed. The ending w I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but as someone who is peripherally involved with computer science I was intrigued by this topic. If you are interested in learning more about how the internet came to be and the overall importance of women in computing, this book is a satisfactory introduction. Evans did a nice job throughout the book honing in on specific women and movements and how they helped build technology today. The writing wasn't phemonal, but there were a few lines I enjoyed. The ending was not very well done, and I was disappointed that Evans didn't use the momentum she had built up to say something greater about women in computing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

    This. Was. Fascinating. The classic case of society and culture rewriting history. Also, how much does it freaking suck that something is only “legitimate” once men do it? Women have been on the cutting edge of computing since they were the computers themselves. I had only heard of one of these women before, and that’s a damn shame. Definitely recommend!!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    A slow but ultimately rewarding read. I read this just after finishing “Invisible Women” so I was ready to be angry... but instead I was intrigued and saddened. And cheered, paradoxically, by story after story of women just making sh*t happen despite the bro-geek culture. I grew up watching/ on the sidelines of the tech wreck and now working in tech and I feel this is a great book that speaks to my inner voice saying “why are there so few women in my office?” I loved learning so many new things A slow but ultimately rewarding read. I read this just after finishing “Invisible Women” so I was ready to be angry... but instead I was intrigued and saddened. And cheered, paradoxically, by story after story of women just making sh*t happen despite the bro-geek culture. I grew up watching/ on the sidelines of the tech wreck and now working in tech and I feel this is a great book that speaks to my inner voice saying “why are there so few women in my office?” I loved learning so many new things about tech that I’m actually familiar with. I was blown away by the theory in here of when and how, exactly, programming became a male domain. The book is a quite relaxed read after all and not a lot of action points for me, but maybe others can find them there. Meanwhile I’ll go back to work with the brogrammers .... but remind them that at the centre, they’re doing a job originally made by women. Highly recommend to anyone in tech, especially if you were around for the Silicon Valley boom and bust in the late 1990’s.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Fascinating book that works well in audio format. Did leave me wanting to know more, so I would be interested in a part 2 that would continue the history into current times.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

    This is the story of the women who made technological advances that gave us the internet and computers as we know them today. I love stories about women in tech history, so I knew I had to pick it up. The author won me over immediately with her enthusiasm for her own first computer. Then she lost me as she started talking about how the women she interviewed were all people especially good at making computers accessible, although they didn’t create them. Even with her caveats disavowing gender es This is the story of the women who made technological advances that gave us the internet and computers as we know them today. I love stories about women in tech history, so I knew I had to pick it up. The author won me over immediately with her enthusiasm for her own first computer. Then she lost me as she started talking about how the women she interviewed were all people especially good at making computers accessible, although they didn’t create them. Even with her caveats disavowing gender essentialism, this reductionist view of the women in her book was an unfortunate and inaccurate capitulation to sexist stereotypes. Granted, the women she discussed (mostly) didn’t come up with new computer architecture, but some of the software they created was just as fundamental to the technology we have today. For instance, I wouldn’t describe contributions to the development of the internet as simply ‘making computers accessible’, even though that was one result of the technology. The rest of this book was almost exclusively awesome, despite the somewhat bad beginning. I learned about an amazing array of women without whom our world would look very different. Here are a few new-to-me favorites: *the Bettys – Betty Snyder and Betty Jean Jennings, who worked on the Enivac and helped create the Univac (including the hardware!) *Jake Feinler – came up with the domain system for URLs (.com, .org, etc) and the WHOIS look up of domain owners *Radia Perlmen – the ‘mother of the internet’, devised the spanning tree algorithm for directing Ethernet packets (gets data where it needs to go) She also covered women I knew more about – Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace – and made the material feel fresh. I really loved learning about the technical advancements these women made. The author’s focus on women as good at the people side of technology did pop up a few other places. In particular, chapters on an adventure game, a women’s website, and a social services directory felt dry to me and didn’t include any technical developments that interested me. Overall, I definitely think this is worth a read. I’d just take the author’s categorization of these women with a grain of salt, because I found their technical accomplishments spectacular completely independent of their impact on accessibility. This review first published at Doing Dewey.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I really enjoyed this book. I wanted it to be longer and more in depth or maybe several volumes. I feel like I didn't get enough of any one person.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Informative and inspiring. This made me want to dive deeper into the biographies of women like Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace. It also made me nostalgic for the hopeful utopian days of the 90s when there was still so much potential in this new thing called the World Wide Web. Little did we know what a garbage fire the Internet has become.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy Oram

    As the subtitle suggests, this book reveals key contributions--technical and organizational--made by women going back to ENIAC and beyond. One might call this the indispensable missing half to Stephen Levy's famous, hyper-testosterone-driven history Hackers. To illustrate how historians shape perception, consider the famous Berkeley, California project called Community Memory. Levy covers the male inventor of that project in detail, but fails to mention the woman who provided the computer that m As the subtitle suggests, this book reveals key contributions--technical and organizational--made by women going back to ENIAC and beyond. One might call this the indispensable missing half to Stephen Levy's famous, hyper-testosterone-driven history Hackers. To illustrate how historians shape perception, consider the famous Berkeley, California project called Community Memory. Levy covers the male inventor of that project in detail, but fails to mention the woman who provided the computer that made Community Memory possible. Evans fills that gap in her book. In similar ways, women were used (and exploited) and then written out of computer history from the start. Although it would be praiseworthy enough to give us the previously undocumented history of women in computing, Evans does more and provides a fresh look at the history of the field overall, hitting the same highs of inspired wonkiness and lows of cynical hucksterism. I was won over by Evans's claim that when men pushed women out of leadership in computing, they also squashed key insights into human needs that could have prevented various software development catastrophes. I am intrigued, but not entirely persuaded, by other claims. For instance, I'm not sure that the very accomplished women who were profiled were so much different from accomplished men in their insights. I do regret that Evans ended on a depressing note, and did not explore the many initiatives like Girls Who Code and inclusionary policies at major tech conferences, promoting once again the skills of women in software, the Maker movement, and everywhere.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Who would have thought that a non-fiction books would have kept me marching down memory lane for hours of reading? Nor would I have believed that it would incite me to gadabout the Internet for computer history and take the first notes I have taken in 20 years in order to remember something I read. I will be feeding selected parts of this into the memoir that I keep waiting to add some context to. Finding about the secretary type jobs that meshed into being "computers" and programmers for women Who would have thought that a non-fiction books would have kept me marching down memory lane for hours of reading? Nor would I have believed that it would incite me to gadabout the Internet for computer history and take the first notes I have taken in 20 years in order to remember something I read. I will be feeding selected parts of this into the memoir that I keep waiting to add some context to. Finding about the secretary type jobs that meshed into being "computers" and programmers for women paid less than the "take over engineers with higher pay was new to me. On the other hand, immersing the dates given for various historical progress meshed interestingly to me about what I had done. So a little bragging: * I bought an Apple II that I could not afford in 1977 that came with 10 programming lessons for me and each of my 4 children. * By 1978 I had talked 5 towns into sharing a computer to check out books in each of their libraries- perhaps the first such consortium East Coast or Country. * Added catalog service a few years later. * Used to keep my finances in the very early VisiCalc electronic spreadsheet using green on black terminal. * Wrote letters using early word processing programs and saved them to floppy discs. * Have had a Hotmail email count since its beginning in 1996. * Learned and have used Word, Excel, Publisher :Power Point, Project, Outlook, and various photo programs as each became available since 1981. Yes, I know, this was supposed to be a review, but it was a nostalgic reminisce instead. My apologies.  

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maranda Dynda

    This book is easily my favorite book I've read all year, one of my favorite non fiction books ever, and a book I'll never forget. I was so encapsulated in it, I read it all in one day. if you are in any way interested or invested in tech and/or feminism, then I insist you read this book the book walks us all the way from Ada Lovelace to and through the dot com boom/burst. This was my one problem with the book: it ended. I can only hope that there will be a follow up with more on the modern works a This book is easily my favorite book I've read all year, one of my favorite non fiction books ever, and a book I'll never forget. I was so encapsulated in it, I read it all in one day. if you are in any way interested or invested in tech and/or feminism, then I insist you read this book the book walks us all the way from Ada Lovelace to and through the dot com boom/burst. This was my one problem with the book: it ended. I can only hope that there will be a follow up with more on the modern works and woes of women in tech.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Loved this book! First, I felt an affinity with the author, like we probably got computers and got online around the same time. Second, the accounts of these women and their inventions and their motivations were deeply interesting and inspiring to hear, especially the artsy, punk, counter-culture ones. A theme of the book was how women's efforts in computing have been continually erased, but in a kind of hopeful, "let's uncover and celebrate all this great work!" way that didn't leave me feeling Loved this book! First, I felt an affinity with the author, like we probably got computers and got online around the same time. Second, the accounts of these women and their inventions and their motivations were deeply interesting and inspiring to hear, especially the artsy, punk, counter-culture ones. A theme of the book was how women's efforts in computing have been continually erased, but in a kind of hopeful, "let's uncover and celebrate all this great work!" way that didn't leave me feeling bummed out, frustrated and defeated (like Brotopia for example).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rita Ciresi

    Move over, Al Gore! The dozen or so "broads" in Broad Band contributed much more to the formation of the Internet and had the humility and grace not to claim that they had "took the initiative in creating [it]." This is one of a slew of wonderful books that have come out over the past year that teaches us about the hidden women behind the science. A fascinating read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

    A must read for computing history buffs and people in the tech industry. Gets off to a shaky start with a weak opening chapter and occasional lapses in writing style but it is 100% worth pushing through. I learned so much about the early internet, BBS era, and dotcom boom that I'd never heard before. The New York scene and early ARPAnet NoC were particularly interesting to me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    As much about how our internet came to be as it is about the unsung women who shapes it (and the technologies that came before and those sure to come after): wholly fascinating; rigorous, lucid, ambitious, and beautiful. I was cliffhanging on Claire Evan's every page. It's a dazzling masterpiece.

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