Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software – Book Review

Has been a while since the first computers of the world have been created, but the systems and knowledge to build them have been invented before them.  

Computers have advanced so much but the components that compose them are in essence the same. 

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software written by Charles Petzold talks about the history, not only of the computers but the essential components that compose them, binary codes and electricity. 

The first binary codes 

The book introduces a little story that is metaphor for the human troubles to stay communicated.  

It introduces some elemental topics, like the Morse code or Braille, and explains all in detail and with easy words that anyone can understand. 

In this way, the book can explain those themes, like how Morse, Braille, and electricity have only 2 states: dot or dash, clear or pointed, on or off. 

Then, it slightly increases the difficulty, showing in chronological order how humans have invented more complex circuits that can do more specific and harder tasks. 

In this ingenious way, the author explains how computers work, even before the creation of the computer, building within the lecture every individual component to get at the end not only the hardware but also the first programming techniques for those computers. 

Getting the machine done 

Unfortunately, after half of the book, when it starts talking about more and more complex topics, part of this kindness explanation goes away. 

It doesn’t make it unreadable, but it was quite difficult to continue with the same rhythm as the first parts and probably you will be in the situation that you have to read again to truly understand what is going on. 

This happened more specifically after the explanation of sums in binary, the explanations, and examples are just not easy to understand. 

This is quite obvious since the book will double or inclusively triple in length if the examples go the same way that the start. 

Final notes 

That all said, at the end “Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software” is a pretty good reading to understand the basics of computational and understand in an easy introduction of how machines work. 

This book covers the basics and some history of the technology that is part of our lives if you don’t already know about those topics, it’s a good option to know about our computers. 

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