Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chasser Le Papier - Part 3

The paper chase is in the code.  (dot dot dot)

I know that I am taking the long way around to discuss why I got into the digital book business, but I want to layout my understanding of technology cycles and their resulting disruptions before discussing all of our current day considerations. My belief is that technology cycles are all the same. It doesn’t matter what technology. The patterns of disruption and adoption are the consistent. The tradition publishing model is about to be wiped out by a wave of disruption. A little history now might help avoid hysteria later.

Some of my own history goes like this.
When I was in high school, I worked at a disk drive company called Data Systems Design. It was a very small floppy disk manufacturer located in Sunnyvale CA. My friend’s father invented a key component of the disk drive system, the bi compliant head assembly. I worked with my friend after school at the factory. I started on the assembly line and worked my way into the quality assurance department. I built and then tested large disk drive systems. That is how I learned the basics of computer systems. Everything in my career has been based on those early experiences.

You can think of a computer as having two basic components, hardware and software. It’s the soft part of the ware, I want to dive into today. Software is built on programming languages.
Programming languages strive to do two things, ease of use and efficiencies in operations.

In 1863 Sam “The Man” Morse and his crew developed an electrical telegraph system. The “system” sent pulses of electric current through wires which controlled an electromagnet that was located at the receiving end of the telegraph system. Telegraphic communications were measured in WPM, words per minute. Morse’s code was the most efficient. The most used characters required the least amount of taps. To state it correctly, "The length of each character is approximately inversely proportional to its frequency of concurrence within the English Language. Thus  the most common letter in English, the letter "E" , has the shortest code, a single dot.
Sounds like a compression algorithm.

Take that jpeg!


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