The Computer and the Brain. 

New Haven, Yale University Press, 1958. 

8vo, pp. xiv, 82, [4]; a good copy in the original grey cloth, spine lettered in black with additional shelfmark penned in black; preserving the original illustrated dustjacket, price-clipped, edges frayed and torn, spine ends chipped; manuscript shelfmark to verso of title and unobtrusive Belfast Public Libraries stamps throughout.


US $580€538

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
The Computer and the Brain. 

Checkout now

First edition of John von Neumann’s pioneering book on the capabilities of machines as compared to human brain.  Originally intended for Yale's Silliman lectures, The Computer and the Brain was left unfinished at the author’s death in early 1957 and was instead first published the following year with a preface by his wife, Klára Dán von Neumann (1911–1963).  Dán was one of the earliest computer programmers; she took active part in von Neumann’s project, was one of the main programmers involved in the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (in the end being responsible for overseeing the final coding) and was instrumental in producing the first successful meteorological forecast on a computer.  Her preface includes a brief biography of the author and details the circumstances of his illness, forced cessation of work, and death. 

The value of this work lies in its being the first systematic comparison between the neural system and the capabilities of the human brain with systems and capabilities of digital and analogue computers of the time.  Concepts such as serial and parallel processing, control by sequence points and memory-stored control are examined, culminating in the remarkably early prediction that machines would surpass the brain in speed and magnitude of calculation.  Von Neumann makes reference to Alan Turing, who in 1947 had introduced the possibility of ‘short codes’ (codes which enable a second machine to imitate the behaviour of a fully coded machine).  Developing this idea, von Neumann was able to articulate that the vast difference between the substance of the computer (hardware) and that of the brain (wetware) can be operatively bridged to an intriguing extent. 

See Jaton, ‘Von Neumann's Draft, Electronic Brains, and Cognition’ in The Constitution of Algorithms: Ground-Truthing, Programming, Formulating (2021), pp. 93-134. 

You may also be interested in...


A collection of seven componimenti sacri per musica for the Oratory of St Philip Neri of Venice.

A collection of seven libretti for sacred oratorios, to be performed in the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Venice.

Read more

CAESAR, Gaius Julius. 

[Opera] quae extant. 

An attractive set of Brindley’s duodecimo Caesar, edited by the Irish classicist Usher Gahagan.  The Caesar is one of several small-format classics published by Brindley in 1744, for which Gahagan was employed as editor.  He subsequently produced versions of Quintus Curtius and Catullus, Propertius, and Tibullus, and translated three of Pope’s works into Latin, but fell into bad company and criminality and was hanged for coin-clipping in February 1749. 

Read more