Rare, scarce, unique, interesting, and unusual books for sale, mostly in the history of physics, mathematics, and technology. The bookstore site is part of a larger daily blog for the History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 4 million hits and 4200+ posts over 10 years| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
McCracken, D.D. Digital Computer Programming. John Wiley, 1957. 9x6”, vi, 253pp. Cloth. A FINE copy in a near-fine dust jacket—very uncommon to find this book in such nice condition. $150
“The first general introduction in book form, stressing actual work with computers.”--from dj cover. This was McCracken's first of more than two dozen books.
“Daniel D. McCracken (July 23, 1930 – July 30, 2011) was a computer scientist in the United States. He was a Professor of Computer Sciences at the City College of New York, and the author of over two dozen textbooks on computer programming. His A Guide to Fortran Programming (Wiley, 1961) and its successors were the standard textbooks on that language for over two decades. His books have been translated into fourteen languages.”--Wikipedia
Wolfgang Pauli. Relativitätstheorie. Sonderabdruck aus der Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften. Mit einem Vorwort von A. Sommerfeld. Verlag und Druck von G.B. Teubner, Leipzig & Berlin, 1921. First edition. 9.75”x6.5”, pp iv, (539)-775. Paper covered boards, cloth spine. The printed cover is good and bright; the printing on the spine is mostly dulled to the point where you can barely read the title. A Very Good copy of a not-common and important, rock-solid book. $200
“Felix Klein was then publishing the Encyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften, a monumental compilation that was to examine the current state of science from all sides. Leading scholars—mathematicians and physicists—were contributors. Klein had requested Sommerfeld to write an article on relativity theory for the Encyklopädie. Sommerfeld ventured to entrust the task to Pauli...(Sommerfeld revealed admirable courage and insight in letting a student in his fourth semester write this important article.)”
“Pauli soon completed a monograph of about 250 pages [the book offered here], which critically presented the mathematical foundations of the theory as well as its physical significance. He took thorough account of the already very considerable literature on the subject but at the same time clearly put forth his own interpretation. Despite the necessary brevity of discussion, the monograph is a superior introduction to the special and general theories of relativity; it is in addition a first-rate historical document of science, since, together with H. Weyl’s Raum, Zeit, Materie(“Space, Time, and Matter”), it is the first comprehensive presentation of the mathematical and physical ideas of Einstein, who himself never wrote a large work about his theory.”
“Sommerfeld was elated by this performance and wrote to Einstein that Pauli’s article was “simply masterful”—and so it has remained to the present day. Pauli showed here for the first time his art of presenting science, which marks everything he wrote."
"In Sommerfeld’s institute Pauli also became acquainted with the quantum theory of the atom. He wrote in his Nobel lecture:
While, in school in Vienna, I had already obtained some knowledge of classical physics and the then new Einstein relativity theory, it was at the University of Munich that I was introduced by Sommerfeld to the structure of the atom, somewhat strange from the point of view of classical physicist, accustomed to the classical way of thinking, experienced when he came to know of Bohr’s “basic postulate of quantum theory” for the first time.”
All of the above from the Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography (online).
A.D. & K.H.V. Booth. Automatic Digital Calculators. Butterworth Scientific Publications, 1953. First edition. Viii, 231pp. Text illustrations, 3 plates. Cloth. A fine copy in a near-fine dust jacket. $200
For a 231-page book it is surprisingly thorough, and overall it is an excellent survey of digital computers of the era. There is also a 9-page bibliography which at first I thought was a bit skimpy (even for 1953) but on a closer inspection is rather good—I like it.
I was a little surprised to see three N. Wiener cybernetics books among the 45 books in the biblio section. That said the section includes 45 books, plus 35 “reports of limited circulation” (including three by G.W. Patterson). Also there is an “Individual Computing Machines” section with 87 references for 39 computers). What is most unusual in the bibliography are the last sections, with categorical entries for arithmetic unit logic design, counters and binary elements, function tables, gates, input-output organs, registers, relays, single digit storage, storage, and computer applications.
Oddly—given that these computers were in the bibliography, five of them are listed as “no published data”.
Contents include: the mechanical era,the advent of eletronic techniques, overall design of a computing system, the control, the arithmetic unit, input-output, gates, single digit storage, definition of a code and discussion of its form and contents (!5pp), the technique of coding (7pp), the use of subroutines in coding (12pp), programme design (13pp), some applications of computing machines.
Edmund C. Berkeley and Lawrence Wainwright. Computers, their Operation and Applications. Reinhold Publishing Co., 1956. First edition. (8), 366pp, illustrated. Cloth, with a nice copy of the uncommon dustjacket. About fine. A very solid and useful work. $200
This is a comprehensive, well-documented, and pretty-well referenced early-ish work in the field by one of the busiest men (Berkeley) in the computer field 1948 (when he wrote Giant Brains or Machines that Think) to 1958. (Berkeley in many ways is like Gil Hodges of the Brooklyn Dodgers—one of the most productive participant in his field for a decade but not in the HOF not so greatly acknowledged. even after long periods of major contributions. The difference is that Hodges has his champions; not so much for Berkeley.)
The book's chapters/sections include: Machines that Handle Information; Automatic Digital Computing Machines; Automatic Analog Machines; Other Types of Automatic Computing Machines; Miniature Computers and their Use in Training; Some Large-Scale Automatic Digital Computers; Applications of Automatic Computing Machines, followed by a good 24pp glossary “of terms and expressions”. The digital computer section is pretty nice, and includes at the end a five-page list of 200 or so digital computers; ditto that for a list of automatic computers.
The “Miniature computers” section includes a long (pp 174-210) treatment of the history and main features of Berkeley's own 1950 machine, “Simon”--certainly it is the longest piece I've seen dedicated to this machine outside of Berkeley's series of articles on it in Radio-Electronics magazine in 1951. Some consider Simon to be the first personal computer, but the 39-lb machine had very little functionality outside of a demonstration device. That said, Simon was expanded in the interim, and those modifications are described here. There's also a 15pp section on the Bush Differential Analyzer ("MIT II"), 6pp on the Harmonic Analyzer; 15pp on UNIVAC I, 8pp IBM 700 series, and 6pp ERA 1103.
Claudet, Antoine Francois Jean "Mr. Claudet's Researches on the Theory of the principal Phaenomena of Photography in the Daguerreotype Process”, in The London, Edinburgh and Dublin philosophical magazine and journal of science. Series 3, volume 35, July-December 1849. 8vo, viii, 552pp, with the article on pp 374-385. Bound in half-calf with nicely marbled boards, the boards having the oval gilt stamp of the “Society of Writers to the Signet”. Front hinge cracked. Red and black spine labels; the small oval leather label identifying the volume number is missing. Very Good copy, otherwise. $350
Antoine Francois Jean Claudet, (1797-1867), began experimenting with Daguerreotype in 1840, and soon became photographer in ordinary to the Queen, being among the very first to practice Daguerrian portraiture in London. . He was very innovative and successful, and contributed many inventions and improvements in the cause of early photography, and was one of the first to use the collodion process. “.
"French photographer and scientist, active in England. He became an influential London portrait photographer at his Adelaide Gallery studio, licensed by the inventors to practise both the daguerreotype and the calotype. Claudet's earliest significant technical contribution, in 1841, was in greatly increasing the sensitivity of the daguerreotype plate, thus reducing exposure times and making the process much more suitable for portraiture. In 1851 he moved to Regent Street, where he also began using the wet-plate process. Claudet published prolifically on photography, vision, and the photographic representation of sculpture. He was also one of the foremost early practitioners of stereoscopic photography, inventing a folding stereoscope and other devices. Many of Claudet's impressive photographs survive, but his collection of historical photographic incunabula was destroyed by fire after his death."-- The Oxford Companion to the Photograph
Claudet asks and answers the following important questions:
"Although the Daguerreotype process has during the last ten years been investigated by a great number of philosophers, and brought to a considerable degree of perfection by a still greater number of practitioners, it may appear surprising that the principal phaenomena upon which this new art is founded, are still enveloped in a mysterious darkness.
1. What is the action of light on the sensitive coating? 2. How does the mercurial vapour produce the Daguerreotype image? 3. Which are the particular rays of light that impart to the chemical surface the affinity for mercury? 4. What is the cause of the difference in achromatic lenses between the visual and photogenic foci? why do they constantly vary 2 5. What are the means of measuring the photogenic rays, and of finding the true focus at which they produce the image?
Also (among many other contributions) in the volume are:
Hamilton, William Rowan. “Sir W. R. Hamilton on Quaternions; or on a New System of Imaginaries in Algebra” and “Sir W. R. Hamilton on Quaternions; or on a New System of Imaginaries in Algebra (continued)”;
Hargreaves, C.J. “Mr. C. J. Hargreave's Analytical Researches concerning Numbers”;
Becquerel, Antoine. “M. Becquerel on the Development of Electricity in the Act of Muscular Contraction”
Forbes, James David (pioneer in the study of glaciers). “Prof. J. D. Forbes on an Experiment to determine the Earth's Density”
Grove, William R. “Mr. W. R. Grove on the Effect of surrounding Media on Voltaic Ignition “
“The Rev. B. Bronwin on the Theory of the Tides “ and “Rev. B. Bronwin on the Theory of the Tides (continued)” and “The Rev. B. Bronwin on the Theory of the Tides (concluded)”;
Lubbock, John W. “Sir J. W. Lubbock on Shooting Stars”
(William E. Staite), “Specification of Staite's Patent Electric Light, [Patent dated July 13, 1847—specifications enrolled July 13, 1848.]” in the “Specification of English Patents sections, in Journal of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania, devoted to the Mechanical Arts, Manufactures, General Science, and the Recording of American and other Patented Inventions, printed in Philadelphia at the Franklin, 1849; volume 17, third series, whole no. 47, pp 263-268, with 8 small woodcut figures of the apparatus. Offered in the volume of 498pp. Half-calf and marbled boards, raised bands, gilt dentelles. Good/VG condition, with a ghost-appearance of a spine label at bottom and rubbing along spine edges, ex-library stamps on title page, and a large (and not very attractive) bookplate. Crisp copy. $150
“W.E. Staite (1809-54) and W. Petrie (1821-1904) were pioneers of electric lighting who received little recognition for their work. Although a satisfactory self-regulating arc lamp was developed, commercial success was not achieved owing to their reliance on primary batteries as the only source of power. Numerous demonstrations were given throughout England, and serious interest in their system of electric lighting was shown by railway companies and dock authorities. The death of Staite in 1854 brought to an end these early attempts to use electricity for illumination.” And: “The pioneers...were finally defeated by the limitations and the expense of the primary cells which were their only source of electrical energy. --“Staite and Petrie: pioneers of electric lighting”, G. Woodward, in IEE Proceedings A - Physical Science, Measurement and Instrumentation, Volume: 136 , Issue: 6 , Nov. 1989.
Also in this volume:
Richad Clarke Burleigh, “Specifications...for Certain Improvements in Artificial Light”, pp 98-102;
Robert Bunsen and Lyon Playfair, “Report on the Gases evolved from Iron Furnaces, with reference to the Theory of the Smelting of Iron”, pp 268-279, 338-344,387-393, and concluded in the next volume;
George Buchanan, “On the Strength of Materials as Applicable to the Construction of Wrought Iron Bridges.--On the Traverse or Cross Strain”; 223-230;
J.F.W. Herschel, “Description of a Lunar Rainbow”, p 123;
Thomas Ewbank, “On the Paddles of Steamers...” pp 42-50, 107-114;
and many others on railroads, bridges, steam, and so on.
Richard Trevithick, “For Improvements on the Steam Engine, and its Application of Steam Power to Navigation, and to Locomotion”, in “Journal of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania, devoted to the Mechanical Arts, Manufactures, General Science, and the Recording of American and other Patented Inventions”, edited by Thomas P. Jones, printed in Philadelphia at the Franklin, 1833; volume 16 (New Series vol 12), pp 111-112, in the volume of 438pp. Half-calf and marbled boards, raised bands, gilt dentelles. Very nice condition with a ghost-appearance of a spine label at bottom; ex-library stamps on title page. Very clean and crisp. $150
Includes much else of interest, for example:
A.D. Bache, “Experiments Made on the Navigation of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal by Steam...”, pp 361-373;
Robert Hare, “Apparatus for Transferring a liquid from a carboy, or cask, to bottles especially useful in the case of sulphuric acid...”, pp 226-228 (with two woodcuts of the instruments);
William Scoresby, “On the Deviation of the Compass; with examples of its fatal influence in some melacholy and dreadful shipwrecks”, pp 40-43 and 121-124.
“Undulating Rail-way” and “The Undulating Rail-way”, pp 45-52;
Michael Faraday, “Practical Prevention of Dry Rot in Timber”, pp 346-351;
E. Galloway, “On the Application of Steam, expansively, in Cornish Steam Engines”, pp 273-277 and 337-341;
James Walker and A. Burges, “Report on the Sate of Blackfriars Bridge”, pp 283-286 and 342-346
“Biscuit Making Machinery”,
“Steam Carriages”, “Selections from (David) Brewster's Optics”
Henry Bessemer, “On the Manufacture of Malleable Iron and Steel”, In: Journal of the Franklin Institute, edited by Thomas P. Jones, volume 69, third series, vol 39; 444pp, 4 plates. The Bessemer is on pp 193-198, with two two plates. It further states the case of Bessemer's groundbreaking paper of 1856 of nearly the same name. Half-calf, with attractive marbled boards, raised bands, gitld entelles. Condition: ex-library though faintly, with a ghost of a call slip on the spine bottom, bookplate, and stamps on the title page. The book was very little used. Very solid, crisp, and clean copy. VG $150
Also in this volume:
William Fairbairn, “Experimental Researches to Determine the Density of Steam at All Temperatures”, pp 17-20.
“Locomotives on Common Roads”, pp 370-377. (Interestingly the article ends on the discussion of tolls on such vehicles based on number of wheels, speed, and “general construction”).
Samuel McElroy. “On the Brooklyn Pumping Engine”, pp 361-370;
Alexander Stephen Wilson, “On a System of Moving Bodies”, pp 342-345;
Piarron de Mondesir, “The Sewerage of Algiers”, pp 145-155, 217-226 (with folding plan), and 289-296;
J. Bennett, “Aerometry. Translated from the Hydraulics of D'Aubuisson de Voisins”, pp 124-132, 186-192, 234-241;
Alexander Allen, “An Improved Method of Retarding and Stopping Railway Trains”, pp 78-80, with a small inset woodcut of the braking system).
Azriel Rosenfeld. “Models for the Perception of Visual Texture”, abstract of paper for presentation at the Symposium on Models for the Perception of Speech and Visual Form, Boston, 11-14 November 1964. 11x8.5”, 3 leaves. Offset, gathered by am old paper clip. Scarce item. Very good. $200
“[Rosenfeld's] interests have spanned a wide spectrum in image processing, analysis, and understanding. Especially worth mentioning is his long-standing interest in human perception...his 1967 paper on models for the perception of visual analysis texture very prophetically brought out notions such as multiscale analysis, parallel vision, sequential processing, and the “intent” of the analyzer”--in Foundations of Image Understanding, edited by Larry S. Davis, Springer 2001.
"Azriel Rosenfeld (1931 – 2004) was Director of the Center for Automation Research at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, where he also held affiliate professorships in the Departments of Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Psychology. He held a Ph.D.. in mathematics from Columbia University (1957), rabbinic ordination (1952) and a Doctor of Hebrew Literature degree (1955) from Yeshiva University...”Rosenfeld was a leading researcher in the field of computer image analysis. Over a period of nearly 40 years he made many fundamental and pioneering contributions to nearly every area of that field. He wrote the first textbook in the field (1969); was founding editor of its first journal (1972); and was co-chairman of its first international conference (1987)." --Wikipedia
The U.S.S. San Jacinto--Propeller, Feb 3, 1855. New York, 1855. 20"x16". Manuscript drawing in pen and ink, on thin onion (?) paper, by the engineer John F. Shearman. Fair condition, with substantial chipping in the right corners, though without any loss to the drawing. The paper is fairly fragile and extremely thin. Unique. $1750
This is an extremely early engineering drawing of a modern propeller, executed only a dozen years or so after the creation of the modern screw propeller by John Ericsson. Shearman's creation is devoid of the extra blades that appeared on the edges of the fans of Ericsson's first attempts, and as ultimately adopted as the standard response to this knotty fluid dynamics problem. The propeller pictured here was for the USS San Jacinto, a mail packet that ran along the west coast in the 1850s until it was sunk operating as a blockade runner for the Confederate States in 1864. It was a pretty large propeller--more than 15 feet in diameter--and moved the ship it was attached to more than 22 feet for every revolution of the blade.
The USS San Jacinto was an early screw frigate in the United States Navy, and was named for the San Jacinto River, of importance during the Texas Revolution. She is perhaps best known for her role in the Trent Affair of 1861...see more here from Wiki.
Shearman was an engineer who worked at the Brooklyn Iron Works, Roslyn Navy Yard (New York) and a number of other places, practicing his trade from ca. 1845 through 1888.