Empire of the Sum: The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator

Written by:
Keith Houston
Narrated by:
Elliot Fitzpatrick

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
October 2023
9 hours 7 minutes
The hidden history of the pocket calculator-a device that ushered in modern mathematics, helped build the atomic bomb, and went with us to the moon-and the mathematicians, designers, and inventors who brought it to life.

Starting with hands, abacus, and slide rule, humans have always reached for tools to simplify math. Pocket-sized calculators ushered in modern mathematics, helped build the atomic bomb, took us to the bottom of the ocean, and accompanied us to the moon. The pocket calculator changed our world, until it was supplanted by more modern devices that, in a cruel twist of irony, it helped to create. The calculator is dead; long live the calculator.

In this witty mathematic and social history, Keith Houston transports listeners from the nascent economies of the ancient world to World War II, where a Jewish engineer calculated for his life at Buchenwald, and into the technological arms race that led to the first affordable electronic pocket calculators. At every turn, Houston is a scholarly, affable guide to this global history of invention. Empire of the Sum will appeal to math lovers, history buffs, and anyone seeking to understand our trajectory to the computer age.
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