The Digital Hand: How Computers Changed the Work of American Manufacturing, Transportation, and Retail Industries

The Digital Hand: How Computers Changed the Work of American Manufacturing, Transportation, and Retail Industries
By James W. Cortada

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Product Description

In The Digital Hand, James W. Cortada combines detailed analysis with narrative history to provide a broad overview of computing's role in sixteen industries, accounting for nearly half of the U.S. economy. Beginning in 1950, when commercial applications of digital technology began to appear, Cortada examines the ways different industries adopted new technologies, as well as the ways their innovative applications influenced other industries and the U.S economy. In addition, to this account of computers' impact on industry, Cortada also demonstrates how industries themselves influenced the nature of digital technology. Managers, economists, and anyone interested in the history of modern business will appreciate this historical analysis of digital technology's many roles and its future possibilities in a wide array of industries. A detailed picture of what the infrastructure of the Information Age really looks like and how we got there, The Digital Hand is a sweeping survey of how computers transformed the American economy.

Product Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #472278 in Books
  • Published on: 2003-12-04
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 6.30" h x 1.20" w x 9.30" l, 1.91 pounds
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 512 pages

Editorial Reviews


"This book is by any standard an outstanding contribution to the field. . . there is a huge value in his richly detailed narrative. This set of books will be the standard source on demand-side computing for perhaps a generation. --Martin Campbell-Kelly, Business History Review

"Cortada has perhaps the deepest understandind of the growing and changing impact of computers in society--this series is off to a strong start as a definitive treatment of their roles in specific economic sectors."--Communication Booknotes Quarterly

About the Author
James W. Cortada is a Senior Consultant at IBM Consulting Group and the author of nearly two dozen books on information technology, business transformation, and knowledge management.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful.
2Hard to read, lack of storyline
By Amazon Customer
Having a great interest in the history of technology i am an avid reader of books on technology development. As such, I was looking forward for this book, since i am also very interested in industry and computers.

Unfortunately, it was a major disappointment. The writing style was very difficult to read, with the author having a strong preference for long, complex and unusual sentence structures. I had to focus on every sentence to follow his train of thought. Without strong focus i often found myself at the end of a page wondering what I just read. Granted, this happens every now and then with every text, but in this book it was the norm and not the exception. After reading 1/3rd of the book i started skipping pages - something i usually never do. After half of the book I stopped altogether, simply because the text was so hard to read.

Content-wise (based on the first half of the book only) he provides lots of details, but I am missing the red thread. The author aims to cover all topics and industries, but gets lost while doing so. This makes it even more surprising that he almost completely skips one of the most significant topics in computers and manufacturing: Industrial Robots. On this topic he writes less than two pages, including unrelated filler content as the Sony Aibo robotic dog. I am definitely not going to touch the two additional volumes where he goes into even more detail for different industries (the book is only the first of a series of three).

On the plus side he does provide lots of details and references, hence two stars out of five.

Overall the book is very hard to read, both due to the writing style and the fuzzy storyline. For me, it was a major disappointment on a topic i was really looking forward to.

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