We are reading “Turing’s Cathedral” which is about the development of digital computing. The NY TImes’ review is here – https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/books/review/turings-cathedral-by-george-dyson.html.
From the review – “Unlike many historians, Dyson has no need to reach for contemporary relevance. He quotes Julian Bigelow, the Maniac’s chief engineer, in a passage that could serve as the book’s précis: “What von Neumann contributed” was “this unshakable confidence that said: ‘Go ahead, nothing else matters, get it running at this speed and this capability, and the rest of it is just a lot of nonsense.’ . . . People ordinarily of modest aspirations, we all worked so hard and selflessly because we believed — we knew — it was happening here and at a few other places right then, and we were lucky to be in on it. . . . A tidal wave of computational power was about to break and inundate everything in science and much elsewhere, and things would never be the same.””
Turing’s paper on the subject, “ON COMPUTABLE NUMBERS, WITH AN APPLICATION TO THE ENTSCHEIDUNGS PROBLEM” can be found here – https://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/Turing_Paper_1936.pdf.
The intro to the paper is as follows:
By A. M. TURING.
[Received 28 May, 1936.—Read 12 November, 1936.]
The “computable” numbers may be described briefly as the real numbers whose expressions as a decimal are calculable by finite means. Although the subject of this paper is ostensibly the computable numbers. it is almost equally easy to define and investigate computable functions of an integral variable or a real or computable variable, computable predicates, and so forth. The fundamental problems involved are, however, the same in each case, and I have chosen the computable numbers for explicit treatment as involving the least cumbrous technique. I hope shortly to give an account of the relations of the computable numbers, functions, and so forth to one another. This will include a development of the theory of functions of a real variable expressed in terms of computable numbers. According to my definition, a number is computable if its decimal can be written down by a machine.