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On Governors" in Proceedings of the Royal Society 16, 1868, pp. 270-283
- FIRST EDITION OF "THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT PAPER ON FEED-BACK MECHANISMS," ONE "USUALLY QUOTED AS THE FOUNDING PAPER OF THE SUBJECT OF CYBERNETICS" (Flood, James Clerk Maxwell, 56). In an experiment "to establish a standard for electrical resistance, James had used a governor to keep the coil spinning at a constant rate. This had turned his thoughts to the way governors worked. In a steam engine governor, weights on a driven shaft are linked to a valve controlling the steam input. The further the weights fly out under centrifugal force, the smaller the valve opening becomes. If the engine starts to speed up the steam input is reduced, causing it to slow again; so the engine settles down to a controlled steady speed. James saw that the same principle could be applied to give precise and stable control of any kind of machine" (ibid). "The key idea was negative feedback. To control the machine's output to a desired value (which may vary over time), you continuously compare the actual output against the required output, and feed the difference back to the input in such a way as to make the output converge on the wanted value. James worked out the conditions for stability under various feedback arrangements, and examined the effects of damping and of changes in the driven load. He wrote up the results [in this paper]. It was the first mathematical analysis of control systems and became the foundation of modern control theory" (ibid). "In coining the term "cybernetics" to describe the field of control and communication/information theory, Wiener was paying homage toMaxwell's paper, as the English word "governor" -- the familiar term for the first popular feedback device -- derives from the Latin corruption of the Greek kubernetes. The word means "steersman"; the steering engines of a ship are among the earliest and best developed forms of feedback mechanism" (Christies, Origins of Cyberspace Auction, 2005). CONDITION & DETAILS: Complete. Ex-libris bearing no exterior markings whatsoever; 4 discreet interior stamps (one on title page, one on the table of contents, one on the subscriber's index, one on the last page of the index). 4to (Quarto). 10 x 7 inches (250 x 175mm). [x], 2, [lxxxi], 534, [4]. Beautifully rebound in half calf over aged marbled paper boards. 5 gilt-ruled, raised bands at the spine. Gilt devices in the compartments; gilt lettered at the spine. New endpapers. Minor age toning throughout. Very good condition.
      [Bookseller: Atticus Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2015-02-22           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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