Charles Petzold

The Annotated Turing
A Guided Tour through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine

ISBN: 978-0-470-22905-7
Wiley, June 2008, 384 pages

The Annotated Turing book cover

The Turing Machine is an imaginary — not even quite hypothetical — computer invented in 1936 by English mathematician Alan Turing (1912–1954) to help solve a question in mathematical logic. As a byproduct, Turing also founded the field of computability theory: the study of the abilities and limitations of digital computers.

This book presents Turing’s original 36-page paper (and a follow-up 3-page correction) with background chapters and extensive annotations, explaining many of Turing’s statements, clarifying his discussions, and providing numerous examples. Interwoven into the narrative are the highlights of Turing’s own fascinating life.

Mathematician and author Martin Davis has written “Petzold will be a stalwart companion to any reader who undertakes to read Turing's classic with his aid. The Annotated Turing will also be quite enjoyable to a more casual reader who chooses to dip into various parts of the text.”

The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

ISBN: 978-0-7356-1131-3
Microsoft Press, 1999, 393 pages

Code book cover

What do flashlights, the British invasion, black cats, and seesaws have to do with computers? In Code, they show us the ingenious ways we manipulate language and invent new means of communicating with each other. And through Code, we see how this ingenuity and our very human compulsion to communicate have driven the technological innovations of the past two centuries.

Using everyday objects and familiar language systems such as Braille and Morse code, author Charles Petzold weaves an illuminating narrative for anyone who’s ever wondered about the secret inner life of computers and other smart machines.

Scott Hanselman says “This book should really be required reading in any CS101 class. Hell, I'd make it required reading for High School Seniors. It can ‘fill in the gap’ for some many technology questions.... My kids will read this book.”

Jeff Atwood says “It's another love letter to the computer. Instead of a long, rambling love letter, Code is a collection of elegantly written sonnets. It has an austere layout, filled with beautiful diagrams. It gently guides you through the history of the computer, at the lowest and most fundamental levels, from Babbage to modern times.”