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I’m reading the opening chapter to Lev Manovich’s “The Language of New Media”, and I’m learning some stuff I never knew about the origins of the computer and the amazingly close links with cinema and the “old media”. The thing that I wanted to share in this post is about the first ever digital computer. Not the first computer – that was invented by Charles Babbage, or arguably J.M.Jacquard. The first ever digital computer – processing binary inputs and outputs – was created by a German engineer called Konrad Zuse. He created it in his parents living room, and used punch tape to provide the input mechanism. The tape that he used was old abandoned 35mm film. Manovich writes about this in such a way as to show the amazing metaphor of cinema becoming a slave to the computer, in the way that Zuse’s computer wrote over the film for it’s own purposes. The computer engulfs cinema, digitizing it, and so bringing it from the world of old media to the domain of the new.

I’ve had the Language of New Media on my desk for some time now (in more than one way – since my computer could be seen to also contain the language of new media), and I’ve dipped into it at various points, and I’m always amazed at how clearly Manovich writes about the subject, in such a way that gives me renewed interest and motivation to investigate the field more.


One Comment

  1. Thanks for reminding me to get ahold of that book! (And if you have any further insights about what you thought of the book do post…)

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