Cristy Burne

Zeroes and Ones: The geeks, heroes and hackers who changed history

2019 Children’s Book Council of Australia – Notable Book

2019 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards – Shortlisted

Fuelled by pizza, late nights and unparalleled geekery, this is the history of some of the world’s most important milestones in the development of technology – from the earliest computers made of light bulbs and an old tin to Wikileaks and smartphones.

  • Packed with weird facts, astonishing tidbits and extraordinary anecdotes.
  • Travel around the world and meet the people who made the world we live in today.
  • Fuelled by creative thinking, persistance, collaboration, passion and curiosity, the people who created today’s technology are just like you. Find out who they were, what they did and how they changed history.

I wrote this book to help prepare young readers for a changing future, where thinking in different ways and being creative is just as vital as cultivating a love for science, technology, engineering and maths.  

3D Zeroes-and-Ones

Zeroes & Ones (2018)
Review in Magpies magazine

Despite its catchy title and attractive cover featuring a squat, colourful, friendly robot, it is the subtitle The geeks, heroes and hackers who changed history that really best sum up this remarkable and timely book.

Within its five detailed chapters, information is fed to the reader in a series of compact, information-rich fact boxes, with the author’s amusing, hip writing style being sure to resonate with young, switched-on readers.

She reminds them that this is their future and encourages and challenges them to decide how they are going to carry on the digital revolution which they will inherit.

It introduces and outlines the motivations of all the major players to date (e.g. Turing, Jobs, Assange, Zuckerberg, etc.) but more importantly explains how and why the inventions and computer advances which have developed in the last few decades have grown into the overarching behemoth of technology which we all share today.

The unusual combination of colours (black writing of difference sizes and fonts presented on alternating white and yellow background) is striking, and the few illustrations of photographs which accompany the text serve mainly to break up the information and occasionally to simply clarify.

Readership? As well as the obvious group—upper primary and lower secondary readers of both sexes—I would recommend this captivating book to everyone who has held a digital device of any kind in the past twenty years!

This intriguingly delightful book is utterly absorbing—and every so slightly scary!

Highly recommended.

Russ Merrin

Purchase here.


They hatched ideas and built prototypes.

They were arrested, went broke, ate pizza and dreamed big.

And their achievements radically changed the way we live.

This book is about the creators of today’s digital technologies. It’s about the coders, the crackpots and the trailblazers.

It’s about their failure and despair, their dedication and daring.

But most of all, it’s about what ordinary people can do with some creativity, determination, and a whole bunch of zeros and ones. People like you.

Buy your copy.
Published by Brio Books

Zeroes and Ones-Cristy Burne

A 4-star (!!! 🙂 ) review from Books + Publishing31 May 2018

Zeroes and Ones (Cristy Burne, Xoum)

Zeroes and Ones is a history of the most exciting milestones in computing, with a focus on individual inventors and innovators. It spans from Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine and Ada Lovelace’s first theoretical computer program in the first half of the 19th century to the baby steps of quantum computing being explored today.

Each chapter ends with a ‘What would you do?’ section, which essentially contains homework activities for the reader. These seem intended to inspire the reader to believe they can make their own important contributions to the future of computing, but they might also have the effect of making the book feel more like school work for some young readers.

The message of inspiration is also a little dampened by some of the later chapters about topical but sobering issues such as mass advertising surveillance through social media, and fake news. But the book is engagingly written and peppered with quirky facts and anecdotes.

While some of the technological advancements are, inevitably, too complex to explain simply, all the ideas are presented in language that makes them feel accessible and exciting. It is suitable for young high-school readers and especially inquisitive upper-primary readers.

Jarrah Moore is a primary literacy editor at Cengage Learning Australia

B+P review.JPG

Murmur Magazine – Winter 2019

“As the subtitle suggests, this is a compendium of the varied geeks and pioneers who have shifted the technological landscape. The book was named a 2019 Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. Author, editor and writer of all things STEM, Cristy Burne (BSc Biotechnology 1998), takes the reader on a world tour that charts the key milestones in the development of technology. From fledgling PCs to WikiLeaks and smartphones, Cristy uses an array of weird facts and engaging anecdotes to chronicle the genesis of life changing gadgets.”

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