We live in a digital age, within a digital economy, continuously engaged with digital media. Digital encoding lies at the heart of our contemporary mobile-obsessed, information-heavy, media-saturated world, but it is usually regarded - if it is thought of at all - as something inaccessible, virtual or ephemeral, hidden deep within the workings of our computers, tablets and smartphones. It is surprising that, despite the profusion of books on the history of computers and computing, little has been written about what makes them possible. So what exactly is 'the digital'? Where did it come from? What do we actually know about it? Robin Boast tackles these fundamental questions in The Machine in the Ghost - and uncovers some very surprising answers. The book navigates the history of digitality, from the earliest use of digital encoding in a French telegraph invented in 1874, to the first electronic computers; the earliest uses within graphics and infor-mation systems in the 1950s; our interactions with computers through punch cards and program-ming languages; and the rise of digital media in the 1970s.
Via these various, sometimes unanticipated historical routes, Boast reveals the foundations of digitality, our contemporary digital media, as something very real - the digital Machine in the virtual Ghost.