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Broad Band

The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
Narrated by: Claire L. Evans
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The history of technology you probably know is one of men and machines, garages and riches, alpha nerds and brogrammers. But the little-known fact is that female visionaries have always been at the vanguard of technology and innovation - they've just been erased from the story. Until now.

Women are not ancillary to the history of technology; they turn up at the very beginning of every important wave. But they've often been hidden in plain sight, their inventions and contributions touching our lives in ways we don't even realize.

VICE reporter and YACHT lead singer Claire L. Evans finally gives these unsung female heroes their due with her insightful social history of the Broad Band, the women who made the Internet what it is today. Learn from Ada Lovelace, the tortured, imaginative daughter of Lord Byron, who wove numbers into the first program for a mechanical computer in 1842. Seek inspiration from Grace Hopper, the tenacious mathematician who democratized computing by leading the charge for machine-independent programming languages after World War II. Meet Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler, the one-woman Google who kept the earliest version of the Internet online, and Stacy Horn, who ran one of the first-ever social networks on a shoestring out of her New York City apartment in the 1980s. Evans shows us how these women built and colored the technologies we can't imagine life without.

Join the ranks of the pioneers who defied social convention and the longest odds to become database poets, information-wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling-shattering dot com-era entrepreneurs. This inspiring call to action is a revelation: women have embraced technology from the start. It shines a light on the bright minds whom history forgot, and shows us how they will continue to shape our world in ways we can no longer ignore.

Welcome to the Broad Band. You're next.

©2018 Claire L. Evans (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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amazing insight into the women who shaped today

This book sheds much needed light on the womwn behind one of the most used forms of communication and self expression. Amazingly inspirational and well researched

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  • Jean
  • 29-03-2018

Inspiring

This is an interesting book about the history of women coders, engineers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs as well as visionaries who helped create and shape the internet. Evans even discusses Ada Lovelace, the mathematician daughter of Lord Byron.

The book is well written and researched. Evans is a journalist so the writing style is that of a journalist. Evans reviews the stories of women scientists such as the famous Grace Hopper, who worked on Harvard Mark One, to more recent women such as Stanford University scientist Elizabeth Feinler. She also includes programmer Brenda Laurel, a gamer entrepreneur. I found the story about Radia Perlman most interesting. Perlman invented a protocol for moving information to the way computers are networked. I had no idea so many women have achieved so much with so little recognition. I highly recommend this book.

The book is nine hours. The author narrated the book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jb
  • 12-03-2018

Great book, though not as good as author thinks

If you could sum up Broad Band in three words, what would they be?

Good historical review

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Great to hear all the stories of how things started.

Any additional comments?

My only issue with this book is that it sounded like the author thought she was a great writer, and the wording and tonality detracted sometimes from the story/history. Given that, it was a fabulous book, and since I am 68 and a child of Silicon Valley history, it was wonderful to hear the women's side of the story. I heard an interview with her on NPR and bought the book, and it seemed like it was going to be another Hidden Figures movie, which I would have liked. But it is stories about the incredible women who did various parts of computer and Internet discovery over the last 50 years, which I did like! But, as I say, sometimes the author gets too involved in how well she thinks she can elocute.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Quella
  • 28-12-2018

A decent primer of women in computer history

If you were like me, you grew up in a very wonderful and exciting world of computers and innovation. It was the golden age when people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were building computers in their garages before Apple became a trillion-dollar brand. Even before this, we had computers that filled entire rooms, used vacuum tubes and punch cards for programming and they often broke down after only a few minutes of operation. These early computers were used by the government mostly to compute weapons trajectories during the war. Often, we remember or have read in history books of the men who were paramount in making computers what they are today. But, have ever wondered what role, if any, women played in this information revolution? If so, “Broad Band” which is subtitled “The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet” may be just the book you are looking for. The book covers a swath of computing history from the time of Babbage to the mid-90s when the Internet really began to take off. The book is both written and narrated by Claire L. Evans and she packs a bunch of information into just over nine hours of audio. Although it is not a deep historic dive, the book does a good job of giving the listener a primer where they can do additional research if they desire.

Many of the people the author covers in this book may sound like familiar names to those growing up during this period, but we often cannot connect their roles or efforts to a given technology or innovation. These spots of prominence were often reserved in historic records for their male counterparts. In this book, the author does a good job of showing the many women who impacted the industry. People like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hooper, Elizabeth Feinler and Stacy Horn to name a few. The author does a fine job of showing how the efforts of these women changed history and made the Internet what it is today. What would I have liked to see included in this book? First off, I would have like to have had a deeper dive into the efforts of the female staff working on the bombe computer system used to crack the German Enigma cypher. The author did a better job covering the Manhattan project and the role of women, but I would have enjoyed more depth and detail as this was a very pivotal time in history. A little less on the female specific chat groups and forms, yet I did like her focus on the role of early day BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems) which were pre-Internet communication systems. I liked the detailed section around networking standards (RFCs) and the role women had in creating and maintaining WHOIS, Hypertext, and the ability to link to other files or locations; which we all take for granted today. Each of these were revolutionary and innovative and women had a key role in their development.

I will say that at times, the book’s underlying agenda is pealed back and revealed. It is not always in your face, but this is very clearly seen in the last chapter where the author speaks of cyber feminist. I know the book is about the role of women in the industry, but at times I felt that the author had to dig deep to find a gem she could use in this book. I grew up during this golden age and I can admit that men were the ones we often read about in books and magazines when females often had a superior role in some way. I was looking for something that would educate me without feeling that I needed to be converted to a given worldview. Teach and educate me but let the facts of history speck for themselves. In full disclosure, I may see things quite differently if I were a female writing this review.

The book’s narration was performed by the author herself. In most cases, I do not think an author is a good fit to read their own work; and I can say this is the case with this book as well. I would have liked to have had a more experienced author narrate the book. At times I felt emphasis was placed at points it was not necessary or clearly pressed the author’s agenda where she felt a point needed to be made. This is not to say that the book’s narration was bad; it was not. Overall it was professionally produced, and the audio quality was good. It was more that the author seemed too close to her material to read it in a way that felt natural.

For parents and younger readers, note that the book does contain some subject matter that may not be appropriate for younger readers. There are places where vulgar language is used; mostly when quoting others. There are also a few topics which discuss or are associated with sex or sexuality. If any of this is offensive to you, I would recommend you skip this one.

In summary, the audiobook did a decent job of showing where, how, and why women were instrumental to building and maintaining computers and the Internet. I would have liked to have had more history and even how many of these females functioned alongside their male counterparts to achieve success. It is a good primer and for someone who wants to study the subject in more depth, the author provides some good steeping stones to start form. To me, it did not feel it was as much a historic piece, but a work that was written towards a specific agenda. Would I read it again? Was it worth my time? Yes, and yes. It was a well thought out work and apart for a few areas covered, I enjoyed it very much.

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  • Kamran
  • 11-09-2018

On the shoulders of Computers

Claire skillfully brought to light fascinating stories of truly revolutionary thinkers and experimentalists who, without me knowing it, improved my life and inspired my own cyber-creative journey. Listening was a joy and if you’re got to the point if reading this review, I know you will feel the same.

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  • Titan_Dawg
  • 21-08-2018

Wonderful history full of surprises

Poetic language and well-told stories yield numerous affecting and interesting insights about how the history of computers and the internet shapes our world today. Wonderful work of history accessibly preserving important stories about the women who led the exploration of the tech that dominates our lives today.

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  • 匿名
  • 06-08-2018

Loved This Book

This is a fantastic survey of computing history. If you have any interest in the internet, where it came from and why it matters you won’t be sorry you listened to this book.

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  • Teri G.
  • 02-07-2018

Should be required reading

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So many rich stories of the women pioneers of Tech.