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A Biography of the Pixel cover art

A Biography of the Pixel

By: Alvy Ray Smith
Narrated by: Daniel Henning
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Publisher's Summary

The Great Digital Convergence of all media types into one universal digital medium occurred, with little fanfare, at the recent turn of the millennium. The bit became the universal medium, and the pixel conquered the world. Henceforward, nearly every picture in the world would be composed of pixels. In A Biography of the Pixel, Pixar cofounder Alvy Ray Smith argues that the pixel is the organizing principle of most modern media, and he presents a few simple but profound ideas that unify the dazzling varieties of digital image making.

Smith's story of the pixel's development begins with Fourier waves, proceeds through Turing machines, and ends with the first digital movies from Pixar, DreamWorks, and Blue Sky. Today, almost all the pictures we encounter are digital. Smith explains, engagingly and accessibly, how pictures composed of invisible stuff become visible—that is, how digital pixels convert to analog display elements. Taking the special case of digital movies to represent all of Digital Light (his term for pictures constructed of pixels), and drawing on his decades of work in the field, Smith approaches his subject from multiple angles. A Biography of the Pixel is essential for anyone who has watched a video on a cell phone, played a videogame, or seen a movie.

©2021 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (P)2022 Tantor

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Hard to follow without diagrams

As you would expect, a book about computer graphics will be full of graphics, so not having a way to view these images, especially with this book being so diagram heavy to explain concepts, it made some parts hard to follow. Having an accompanying pdf or website to refer to would have been very useful.
Regarding content, the first two sections were a real struggle to get through, but I encourage you to persevere as it gets better. If feel the first two sections were the parts that interested the author the most (considering he was instrumental and lived through the second half of the book), and he went deeper and more detailed than needed. While I was more interested in the second half (the part with actual computers), and especially the moving image section which I felt was rushed. More time here and on PDI and MAGI would have been welcomed.

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