Image Not Available

Cybernetics. Inscribed to Donald Campbell

Wiener, Norbert

Published by John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1948
From Jeremy Norman's historyofscience (Novato, CA, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since January 9, 1999 Seller Rating 2-star rating

Association Member: ABAA

Quantity Available: 1

Buy Used
Price: US$ 6,500.00 Convert Currency
Shipping: US$ 7.50 Within U.S.A. Destination, rates & speeds
Add to basket

30 Day Return Policy

About this Item

Inscribed to Philosopher and Social Scientist Donald Campbell Wiener, Norbert (1894-1964). Cybernetics or control and communication in the animal and the machine. 8vo. [2], 194pp. New York: John Wiley & Sons; Paris: Hermann et Cie., 1948. 229 x 152 mm. Original red cloth, red and gray printed dust-jacket (a little chipped). Fine. Inscribed by Wiener to Donald Campbell (1916-96) on the front free endpaper: "To Donald Campbell from Norbert Wiener." First American Edition, following shortly after the French edition that appeared in English the same year. We have never seen or heard of a presentation copy of the French edition, and this is the only the second presentation copy of the American edition we know of. Wiener presented this copy to Donald T. Campbell, the highly influential psychologist, social scientist and information philosopher whose investigations of creative thought led him to come up with the concept of "Blind Variation and Selective Retention" (BVSR), a fundamental principle of cybernetics: "Blind variation and selective retention (BVSR) is a phrase introduced by Donald T. Campbell to describe the most fundamental principle underlying cultural evolution. In cybernetics, it is seen as a principle for describing change in evolutionary systems in general, not just in biological organisms. For example, it can also be applied to scientific discovery, memetic evolution [i.e., the evolution of cultural memes] or genetic programming. As such, it forms a foundation for what has later been called Universal Darwinism" (Wikipedia). Cybernetics, Wiener's widely circulated and influential treatise on feedback, applied theories of information and communication to both biological systems and machines. In it were the roots of various elements of computer science, which by the mid-1950s had broken off from cybernetics to form their own specialties. The work influenced a generation of scientists working in a wide range of disciplines, including information theory, computer learning, and artificial intelligence. Cybernetics was the first conventionally published book (as opposed to technical report) to include a serious discussion of electronic digital computing. Wiener, independently of Claude Shannon, conceived of communications engineering as a brand of statistical physics and applied this viewpoint to the concept of information; writing as a mathematician rather than an engineer, his discussion was theoretical rather than specific. Computer-related words beginning with the "cyber-"prefix, including "cyberspace," originate from Wiener's book. The chapter on "Time series, information, and communication" contained the first publication of Wiener's formula describing the probability density of continuous information. This is remarkably close to Shannon's formula dealing with discrete time published in "A mathematical theory of communication" (1948). Cybernetics also contained a chapter on "Computing machines and the nervous system," a theoretical discussion, influenced by McCulloch and Pitts, of differences and similarities between information processing in the electronic computer and the human brain. It contains a discussion of the difference between human memory and the different computer memories then available. Tacked on at the end of Cybernetics were speculations by Wiener about building a chess-playing computer, predating Shannon's first paper on the topic. Wiley had the first edition of Wiener's book typeset and printed by letterpress in France by the French publishers Hermann et Cie, probably because the French firm was a specialist in mathematical publications. The first edition was thus issued in Paris. The first American edition was printed offset from the French sheets and issued by John Wiley in New York, also in 1948. Because the typesetting was done in Europe Wiener likely did not have the opportunity to read proofs carefully, as the first edition contained many typographical errors which were repeated in the American edition. These remained uncorrected through the various printings of the American edition until a second edition was published by John Wiley and MIT Press in 1961. Regarding the notable paucity of books inscribed by Wiener, my colleague Arthur Freeman emailed me this story in October 2012: "Norbert, whom I grew up nearby (he visited our converted barn in Belmont, Mass., constantly to play frantic theoretical blackboard math with my father, an economist/statistician at MIT, which my mother, herself a bit better at pure math, would have to explain to him later), was a notorious cheapskate. His wife once persuaded him to invite some colleagues out for a beer at the Oxford Grill in Harvard Square, which he did, and after a fifteen-minute sipping session, he got up to go, and solemnly collected one dime each from each of his guests. So when Cybernetics appeared on the shelves of the Harvard Coop Bookstore, my father was surprised and flattered that Norbert wanted him to have an inscribed copy, and together they went to Coop, where Norbert duly picked one out, wrote in it, and carried it to the check-out counter-where he ceremoniously handed it over to my father to pay for. This was a great topic of family folklore."Origins of Cyberspace 992. Bookseller Inventory # 43511

Ask Seller a Question

Bibliographic Details

Title: Cybernetics. Inscribed to Donald Campbell

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, New York

Publication Date: 1948

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

Store Description

Visit Seller's Storefront

Association Member Members of these associations are committed to maintaining the highest standards. They vouch for the authenticity of all items offered for sale. They provide expert and detailed descriptions, disclose all significant defects and/or restorations, provide clear and accurate pricing, and operate with fairness and honesty during the purchase experience.
Terms of Sale:

Shipping charges will be applied to all orders. All items are guaranteed as described and all purchases may
be returned for any reason within two weeks of receipt. Please notify us in advance if you are making a
Legal entity: Jeremy Norman & Co., Inc.
Business address: 936-B Seventh St., PMB 238, Novato, CA 94945-3000
Email address:
Phone: 415-892-3181
Federal Tax ID Number:94-2261335
Authorized representative: Jeremy M. Norman

Shipping Terms:

Orders usually ship within 2 business days. Shipping costs are based on books weighing 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy or oversized, we may contact you to let you know extra shipping cost is required.

List this Seller's Books

Payment Methods
accepted by seller

Visa Mastercard American Express

Money Order PayPal Bank Draft Bank/Wire Transfer