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The iPad, the Kindle, and the Immutable Laws of the Marketplace

A culling of the herd of book e-readers is already under way, as prices plummet

7 min read
The iPad, the Kindle, and the Immutable Laws of the Marketplace

This article was modified on 1 October 2010.

If you've considered buying an e-reader but haven't yet taken the plunge, there's no longer a need to wait. It's only been three years since Amazon jump-started the market with its Kindle [above], but the technology has improved greatly since then. And as this summer's price wars in the United States carry over to the holiday season and the rest of the world, e-readers are finally ready for a mainstream audience.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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