|What's the best book (fiction or otherwise) you've read about 'real' computers and/or computing (including programming, of course)?|
Just to be clear: not sci-fi books about future computers, or computers in outer space, or imagined AI. But books about what it's like to use a computer at some real moment in time. Books that capture the gestalt of living inside of a screen, hacking away. Books about the isolation of computing.
There's probably some similarity to books about artists or writers (the isolation, the focus) but there's also something unique about the split between our physical bodies in meatspace, and our minds in digital space — from punchcards to touch screens. I'm looking for books that capture that dichotomy.
Ellen Ullman is one of the few non-explicitly geek-facing fiction writers that easily comes to mind (Close to the Machine ). As are parts of The Information  (Turing machine construction, for ex ...). Beautiful Code  is yet another, but skewing a bit too technical ...
A friend recommended grabbing computer instruction manuals and looking at the forewords — authors who have spent years writing up technical documentation start to stretch their legs and get a little philosophical there. Has anyone compiled a collection of such forewords?
Anyway — would love to hear your suggestions!
(edit: footnote formatting)