A People's History of Computing in the United States

Order it on Amazon; ask for it at your local bookstore. It’s also an audiobook and available on Audible.

Learn more about the book (and me) listening to my interviews with Lady Science, This Is Not a Pipe (TINAPP), or New Books Network. Read reviews in The Nation, Nursing Clio, or Public Books, or watch me give a Google Talk about it.

Silicon Valley gets all the credit for digital creativity, but this account of the pre-PC world, when computing meant more than using mature consumer technology, challenges that triumphalism.


Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code:

“We’re familiar with the story of an American computing culture created by great men—geniuses and mavericks. Very rarely have we heard about exceptional women who made significant contributions to hardware and software development. A People’s History of Computing in the United States subverts that old story and takes us into the homes, classrooms, and offices of ordinary Americans—girls and boys, women and men—who built an extraordinary, vibrant digital culture long before the arrival of the PC in the 1980s. The girls (and boys) who code today are the successors to the democratic computing culture that once thrived in this country.”


“A fascinating story of personal and social computing long before the advent of personal computers, the internet, and social media. A compelling challenge to the traditional male-dominated narrative of the importance of personal computers and ARPANET in laying the groundwork for today’s digital world.”

— Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College


“Digital computers were brought to us by their inventors, a story frequently told. The digital revolution, in contrast, was brought to us by computer users, and that story—as vividly narrated by Joy Rankin in A People’s History of Computing in the United States—deserves to be better known.”

— George Dyson, author of Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe