The hidden history of the pocket calculator—a device that ushered in modern mathematics, helped build the atomic bomb, and went with us to the moon—and the mathematicians, designers, and inventors who brought it to life.
Tries to make an arcane subject accessible ... It remains to be seen if Empire of the Sum will turn the history of base-10 numeration into a forbidden pleasure ... Houston’s narrative is full of oddballs, many of them brilliant, some of them brilliant and insufferable ... There are thorny stretches ... I do wish that, once in a while, Houston climbed to a higher altitude, leaving behind the details of computational innovation to ask what all that innovation was for.
In a book that’s long on technical details and short on compelling anecdotes, Mr. Houston’s profile of Herzstark is a notable highlight ... The rest of Mr. Houston’s intermittently fascinating account is a creation story of tech breakthroughs begetting first-of-their-kind digital calculators.