Subscribe: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
http://csdl.computer.org/rss/annals.xml
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade C rated
Language: English
Tags:
article  computer  computers  computing  development  early  history computing  history  information  part  system  technology 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing

IEEE Annals of the History of Computing



From the analytical engine to the supercomputer, from Pascal to von Neumann, from punched cards to CD-ROMs — the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing covers the breadth of computer history. Featuring scholarly articles by leading computer scientists



 



From the Editor's Desk

07/11/2017 2:07 pm PST

A brief overview of the topics covered in this issue by EIC Nathan Ensmenger.



How to Look: Apprehension, Forensic Craft, and the Classification of Child Exploitation Images

07/11/2017 2:06 pm PST

The detection and removal of child pornography online is a vexing process, weighted with moral urgency. In recent years, this process has become increasingly digitally automated. In 2016, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported that they had reviewed over 500,000 image and video files suspected to contain child pornography; and since 2002 they had reviewed an aggregate of 192 million images in order to identify 12,500 child victims. NCMEC is a nonprofit that serves as the United States main clearinghouse for child exploitation content, and works directly with federal and local law enforcement to produce case files in criminal investigations of missing children, child abuse, and child exploitation recorded for the intent of commercial distribution.



Reviews

07/11/2017 2:07 pm PST

Books reviewed: Antonio Garcia Martinez, Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley, HarperCollins Publishers, 2016. Martin Campbell-Kelly and Daniel D. Garcia-Swartz, From Mainframes to Smartphones: A History of the International Computer Industry, Harvard University Press, 2015. Evan Koblentz, Abacus to Smartphone: The Evolution of Mobile and Portable Computers, self-published, 2015.



At the Electronic Crossroads Once Again: The Myth of the Modern Computer Utility in the United States

07/12/2017 2:02 pm PST

The term "computer utility" has been perennially present in the history of computing, though a precise definition of the term has been fleeting, even when it first appeared in the Mid-1960s. The recent resurgence of interest in the remote provision of computing power has brought with it the historical jumble of definitions that make up that term, and "computer utility" is once again being applied to computer architectures though with little justification or exposition given regarding this use. This article attempts to determine whether past and present applications of the term share any commonalities and in doing so questions whether there has ever existed a true "computer utility." To do so, incarnations of the "computer utility" are examined in two time periods--the 1960s and the 1970s--during which time computer time-sharing enjoyed significant prosperity and now as cloud computing has become increasingly popular and prolific.



Computing for Democracy: The Asociación de Técnicos de Informática and the Professionalization of Computing in Spain

07/12/2017 2:02 pm PST

The professionalization of computing in Spain had a key player in the Association of Information Technology Technicians (ATI), that fought for better working conditions, promotion of academic programs in computer science, and lobbying for the regulation of computing.



"The Spitting Image of a Woman Programmer": Changing Portrayals of Women in the American Computing Industry, 1958-1985

07/12/2017 2:01 pm PST

This paper examines the cultural climate faced by women in the American computer industry from the 1960s to the early 1980s, a period in which the percentage of the industry workforce that was female almost tripled. Drawing on a comprehensive study of articles and advertisements in the trade journal Datamation, sources from IBM, Control Data, and the Burroughs Corporation, and the records of the user group SHARE, Inc, the study argues that the cultural climate of the industry shifted radically in the early 1970s, from hostility in the 1960s to a more open one in the late 1970s and early 1980s.



The Experimental Computer Programme: The First Computing Initiative for the National Health Service in England

07/12/2017 2:01 pm PST

The Experimental Computer Programme (1967-1979) was the first central government intervention for hospital computing in the English National Health Service. Influenced by developments in the United States, the UK Department of Health envisioned integrated medical and management information systems, operating in real time. The approach to implementation was experimental and piecemeal. The program was overambitious for the computer technology available, but social, economic, and political barriers were equally significant. Despite positioning as a research program, evaluation was poorly managed. Although the program was judged to be a failure at the time, some projects were partially successful. The history of the program remains relevant to the question of how governments might best support hospital computing initiatives in relatively centralized, publicly funded health systems.



In Search of the Original Fortran Compiler

07/11/2017 2:06 pm PST

In April 2002, Grady Booch sent out an email with the subject "Preserving classic software products." His appeal to provide top 10 lists and to suggest where to look for the source code received an enthusiastic response. Grady and the Computer History Museum organized a workshop in October 2003.1 As a result, a month later, a group of Computer History Museum trustees, staff and volunteers (including me) established the Software Collection Committee2 (SCC) to explore the software side of the museums mission: "To preserve and present for posterity the artifacts and stories of the information age." This article focuses on the collecting of Fortran materials.



CHM Happenings

07/11/2017 2:07 pm PST

Nearly 200,000 people, representing over 140 countries, came to CHM in Mountain View in 2016 to learn and explore our main exhibit on the history of computing, Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computer History, as well our other exhibits on Ada Lovelace, self-driving cars, and the worlds smallest computer.



Dana Ulery: Pioneer of Statistical Computing and Architect of Large, Complex Systems

07/12/2017 2:02 pm PST

Biography of Dana Ulery, the first woman to be hired as an engineer at JPL. She would be the only female engineer hired there for the next seven years. While with JPL, she worked on real-time tracking systems and algorithms for NASAs Deep Space Network. After earning her doctorate, she became a visiting lecturer for Cairo University and later transitioned to a full-time, and very long term, position at DuPont. After that, she held a senior position doing applied research at the United States Army Research Lab.



From the Editor's Desk

05/03/2017 3:03 pm PST

Presents the introductory editorial for this issue of the publication.



Eternal October and the End of Cyberspace

06/12/2017 2:13 pm PST

Reports on the early development, use, and applications supported by the USENET network.



Reviews [Book review]

06/12/2017 2:13 pm PST

The book reviewed is, "A History of Information in the United States Since 1870" (Cortada, J.W.; 2016). While All the Facts does not really offer all the facts, it offers a lot of them. But that’s not the only thing that makes this book so ambitious. Rather, it’s the author's attempt to redirect the historiography of information and computing history. He suggests that what’s important is not the technology of information processing but rather the information being processed: what information, where it comes from, how it’s used, what effects it has. All the Facts outlines a new approach to the history of information, one focused on content and context. It also offers a new approach to the social and cultural history of the United States, one that puts information at its center. All the Facts covers large swaths of the information ecology of American economy and society. The book doesn’t explore the heterogeneity of information in the diversity of American society and culture as much as that area deserves exploration. It’s an area that invites further work. As with Cortada’s previous books, this one is extremely well researched. The footnotes and bibliography are spectacular, some 130 pages spanning primary and secondary sources of every kind. Those references, along with the synthetic treatment of so many aspects of information, will make the book very useful as a jumping-off point for other researchers. That’s Cortada’s goal for the book, and it was accomplished very well.



Screen History: The Haeff Memory and Graphics Tube

06/12/2017 2:12 pm PST

Haeff-type tubes formed the high-speed memory of Whirlwind I but had their greatest impact in graphics and display technology, remaining in widespread use until the 1980s. Haeff seems to have been the first to store and display graphics and text on an electronic screen for an unlimited period, in 1947.



Race and Computing: The Problem of Sources, the Potential of Prosopography, and the Lesson of Ebony Magazine

06/12/2017 2:12 pm PST

Historians recognize the need to examine race and technology, but published scholarship has not kept pace. This has been attributed to the absence of archival source materials. In response, scholars have approached "race" from a broad definition, rather than having sought to place persons of color who contributed to the development and innovative application of computing into the historical record. It remains critical to do so. Archives and libraries should undertake to identify and collect materials from persons of color. Meanwhile, scholars may find material in nontraditional sources, and prosopography may prove useful for examining computer professionals of color. At least 57 African Americans working in computing fields between 1959 and 1996 are listed in Ebony magazine. If computing has had little to say about persons of color, it may be better to examine what communities of color have had to say about computing.



MCM on Personal Software

06/12/2017 2:12 pm PST

Micro Computer Machines was among the earliest companies to embark on the personal microcomputer project. The evolution of the company's views on personal software was emblematic of the personal computing paradigm's transformations, which occurred with some regularity and in several regions of the world throughout the history of personal computing.



Early History of Computing in Switzerland: Discovery of Rare Devices, Unknown Documents, and Scarcely Known Facts

06/12/2017 2:12 pm PST

Some aspects of computing history in Switzerland are well known to computing historians, such as Heinz Rutishauser's early work with automatic programming and Algol, Niklaus Wirth's creation of Pascal, both at ETH Zurich, and developments at IBM's Zurich research laboratory. However, other Swiss contributions to early history of computing are less well known. A good place to research the history of other early achievements is in the archives of the main library of ETH Zurich and its “Sammlung Sternwarte” (collection of astronomical instruments). Another good source is the archive of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, the leading Swiss daily newspaper, founded in 1780. In this note, I relate some of what I have learned about the early history of computing in Switzerland, about rare devices, forgotten documents, and scarcely known facts; and I suggest some of my journey as a computer scientist turned historian.



Events and Sightings

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

This Events & Sightings installment covers a range of recent events focusing on the history of computing.



On the Cruelty of Really Writing a History of Machine Learning

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

The construction, maintenance, and mobilization of data used to both constrain and enable machine learning systems poses profound historiographical questions and offers an intellectual opportunity to engage in fundamental questions about novelty in historical narratives. To effectively explore the intellectual, material, and disciplinary contingencies surrounding both the curation and subsequent distribution of datasets, we need to take seriously the field of machine learning as a worthy subject for historical investigation.



Computer Security, Part 2

05/31/2017 10:42 am PST

This issue is the second of two Annals special issues extending from the National Science Foundation's Computer Security History Workshop, which gathered historians and pioneers at the Charles Babbage Institute in July 2014. It markedly advances scholarship on many different critical aspects of computer security history.



Computer Security Discourse at RAND, SDC, and NSA (1958-1970)

12/15/2016 3:33 pm PST

The 1967 Spring Joint Computer Conference session organized by Willis Ware and the 1970 Ware Report are widely held by computer security practitioners and historians to have defined the field's origin. This article documents, describes, and assesses new evidence about two early multilevel access, time-sharing systems, SDC's Q-32 and NSA's RYE, and outlines its security-related consequences for both the 1967 SJCC session and 1970 Ware Report. Documentation comes from newly conducted Charles Babbage Institute oral histories, technical literature, archival documents, and recently declassified sources on National Security Agency computing. This evidence shows that early computer security emerged from the intersection of material, cultural, political, and social events and forces.



Before It Was a Giant: The Early History of Symantec, 1982-1999

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

Before Symantec became a major supplier of security software, it offered a variety of natural language microcomputer software products. Its growth into a security firm was the result of acquisitions of software enterprises and expanding market conditions in the 1980s and 1990s. This story tells not only about nimbleness in the early software industry, but also about the importance of venture capitalists in the success and failure of early software firms.



The March of IDES: Early History of Intrusion-Detection Expert Systems

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

As part of a broader prehistory and history of early intrusion-detection systems (IDSs), this article focuses on the first such system, Intrusion Detection Expert System (IDES), which was developed in the second half of the 1980s at SRI International (and SRI's follow-on Next Generation Intrusion Detection Expert System, or NIDES, in the early-to-mid 1990s). It also briefly recounts other early IDSs and the National Security Agency's Computer Misuse and Anomaly Detection (CMAD) Program, and it analyzes the disproportionately high contributions of women scientists to leadership in IDS research and development relative to other computer security specialties.



Edge Cryptography and the Codevelopment of Computer Networks and Cybersecurity

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

Developed around 1973 by BBN under contract from DARPA, the private line interface (PLI), a cryptographic cybersecurity device used on the Arpanet, operated with minimal modification of the existing network infrastructure, sitting at the "edge" of the network between the network switches and the connected host computers. As a result of the developmental and infrastructural trajectory set in motion by the PLI, significant cryptographic resources remain at the edges (or ends) of the networks that constitute the Internet today. This study of the PLI is an entry into the historical relationship between cryptography and packet-switched computer networks.



The Dawn of Digital Light

12/15/2016 3:33 pm PST

Digital pictures and computers are now inseparable, so it's surprising how generally unremarked their association was in the beginning. Records reveal that the first digital pictures--the first still pictures, videogames, and computer animations--were made on the earliest computers. Historians have noted this before, but individually without a unifying context. This article shows that the original digital pictures were associated with the original computers in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This fresh perspective on digital pictures establishes a different take on the history of early computers and unifies the history of digital light itself.



Before Torchi and Schwilgué, There Was White

12/15/2016 3:32 pm PST

This brief note pushes further back the invention of key-driven calculating machines. Until recently, it was thought that the first such machine was Du Bois D. Parmelee's in 1850. Then, notice was made of Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué's machine (1844), then of Luigi Torchi's (1834), and now of James White's (1822).



Reviews [Book review and Play review]

12/15/2016 3:33 pm PST

The following book is reviewed: A Truck Full of Money (Kidder, T.; 2016). The following play is reviewed: Privacy (written by James Graham and directed by Josie Rourke). Many historians of computing will know Tracy Kidder’s name from his second book, The Soul of a New Machine (Little Brown,1981), which featured engineer Tom West managing a small group working on a tight deadline within a substantially antithetical Data General corporate culture. In this ,the author's 11th book, Kidder returns to the world of computing. Kidder’s featured character is Paul English, who is most known for cofounding the Kayak travel website, which was sold in 2012 to Priceline for $1.8 billion. Anyone interested in the worlds of computer programming, technical leadership and product development, venture capital and entrepreneurship, and philanthropy circa 1990–2015 (the Web era to date) should find the book interesting. It is an easy read about a guy with a good number of eccentricities, so the book will also be fun for general readers who enjoy accounts of interesting personalities. The play, Privacy, premiered at London’s DonmarWarehouse in 2014 and transferred to New York’s Public Theater in 2016. Privacy starred Daniel Radcliffe is a writer and pursues his boyfriend to New York City. But that thin plotline is almost beside the point. What actually occurs is that Radcliffe’s character takes a journey through the Internet and comes to an understanding of how pervasive and powerful the tools of surveillance are. The five remaining members of the cast take on approximately 60 different roles. Some are simply the Writer’s parents and psychiatrist, but most are journalists, activists, intellectuals, and academics who are on the front lines of the public conversation about surveillance.



From the Editor's Desk

05/31/2017 10:43 am PST

This issue features articles on history of the computer networks and networking. David Hemmendinger uncovers two early and previously undocumented computer networks that predated the Arpanet by as much as a half-decade, and participant-historians John Day and Craig Partridge masterfully demonstrate just how important it is that we unpack intimidating sets of acronyms (both technical and organizational) to reveal the people, practices, and politics that lie behind them. Lastly, in the second of their two-part series on visual representations of the Arpanet, Bradley Fidler and Marie Currie explore the ways in which the original Arpanet maps are anything but straightforward depictions of the physical or spatial "reality" of the network.



Meaning and Persuasion: The Personal Computer and Economic Education

08/25/2016 2:34 pm PST

In late 1982, the corporate-funded business education nonprofit Junior Achievement (JA) distributed 121 donated personal computers to classrooms across the United States as part of its new high school course, Applied Economics. Studying JA's use of computers in Applied Economics reveals how a corporate-sponsored nonprofit group used personal computers to engage students, adapt its traditional outreach methods to the classroom, and bolster an appreciation of private enterprise in American economic life. Mapping the history of how business advocacy and education groups came to adopt software as a means of representing work and commerce offers a new perspective on how systems of cultural meaning have been attached to, and expressed through, computers and computing.



Reviews

08/25/2016 2:34 pm PST

This Reviews department article covers Hacking Europe: From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes edited by Gerard Alberts and Ruth Oldenziel (Springer, 2014).



Two Early Interactive Computer Network Experiments

08/25/2016 2:35 pm PST

Two early networking experiments joined a time-sharing computer at the System Development Corporation with systems at the Stanford Research Institute briefly in 1963 and at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in 1966-1967. Both were influenced by J.C.R. Licklider's interest in resource sharing and included experiments with the interactive use of remote programs.



The Restructuring of Internet Standards Governance: 1987-1992

08/25/2016 2:34 pm PST

In June 1992, the Internet Activities Board sought to push the Internet Engineering Task Force into a solution for the Internet's address depletion problem. Its actions provoked a management crisis that forced a restructuring of the Internet standards governance process. Although the events have been characterized as a revolt by the Internet Engineering Task Force, this article revisits the preceding five years to show that the IETF, at least initially, sought to avoid the crisis.



Infrastructure, Representation, and Historiography in BBN's Arpanet Maps

08/25/2016 2:34 pm PST

The earliest and most widespread representation of the Arpanet were network graphs or maps that, arguably, remain its most prominent artifact. In an earlier article, the authors analyzed how the maps were created, what they represented, and how histories of the network parallel their emphases and omissions. Here, the authors begin a retooling of the maps to highlight further what is missing from them: communication flows, gateways to other networks, and hierarchies between its nodes.



The Clamor Outside as INWG Debated: Economic War Comes to Networking

08/25/2016 2:35 pm PST

In a 2011 Anecdote department article in the Annals, Alex McKenzie provided an excellent account of the events between 1974 and 1976 leading up to INWG 96, a proposed internetwork transport protocol. McKenzie's anecdote focused on the events in INWG (International Network Working Group), which this article shows were a small part of a much larger debate that was going on outside. The author places the INWG discussions in this wider context to better understand the technical points and implications, their ultimate impact, and the paradigm shift that threatened established business models.



Raymond Tomlinson: Email Pioneer, Part 2

08/25/2016 2:34 pm PST

Raymond (Ray) Tomlinson was a computer engineer best known for developing the TENEX operating system and implemented the first email program on the Arpanet system in 1971. In its official biography, the Internet Hall of Fame states that "Tomlinson's email program brought about a complete revolution, fundamentally changing the way people communicate." This interview is the second in a two-part Annals series based on an oral history conducted by Marc Weber and Gardner Hendrie for the Computer History Museum (CHM) in June 2009.



Notes on the History of Fork and Join

01/18/2017 11:33 am PST

The fork call allows a process (or running program) to create new processes. On multiprocessor systems, these processes can run concurrently in parallel. Since its birth 50 years ago, the fork has remained a central element of modern computing, both with regard to software development principles and, by extension, to hardware design, which increasingly accommodates parallelism in process execution. This article looks back at the birth of the fork system call to share, as remembered by its pioneers.



Events and Sightings

08/25/2016 2:35 pm PST

This Events & Sightings installment covers the release of the Itihaasa app chronicling the history of Indian IT.



Calle for Nominations Education Awards Nominations

09/08/2016 2:33 pm PST

Calle for Nominations: Education Awards nominations.



Postcolonial Histories of Computing

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

Postcolonial studies of science and technology seek to reevaluate our theories and systems of society and technology in light of the ways that they are influenced by the long history of colonialism. This article explores what postcolonial science and technology studies mean for historians of computing.



Events and Sightings

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

This Events & Sightings installment covers a range of recent events focusing on the history of computing.



History of Computing in East Asia

05/31/2017 10:44 am PST

All four articles in this special issue cover stories of real-world implementations or applications of computing technology in East Asia. Each article adopts a unique approach and historiographical strategy, which demonstrates the diversity of this scholarly community.



History of COMTRAC: Development of the Innovative Traffic-Control System for Shinkansen

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

First introduced together with the extension of Tokaido-Shinkansen railway in 1972, the COMTRAC large-scale command-and-control system efficiently controls the train's high-speed, high-frequency, high-diversity operations. This article introduces COMTRAC's technological features and gives an overview of its 50-year history, including the early days of R&D and the subsequent system development and improvements.



Design Engineering or Factory Capability? Building Laptop Contract Manufacturing in Taiwan

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

This article explores how Taiwanese laptop contract manufacturers established the foundation of their businesses between the late 1980s and mid-1990s. It casts doubt on the traditional view of a linear progression from manufacturing to design capability in Asia. By examining the three earliest laptop projects in Taiwan, however, this author shows that manufacturing was not necessarily simpler than design and how important these producers' design engineering capabilities were to attracting customers and establishing a solid foundation for their future development.



The Korean Character Code: A National Controversy, 1987-1995

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

Adequately representing the Korean language has been a challenge since the earliest introduction of digital computing and computer-mediated communication. As a local solution to the more general problem of the internationalization of computer languages, the Korean government introduced a new standard character code known as KSC-5601 in 1987. This article traces the history of the Korean character code, from the introduction of the KSC-5601:1987 standard (which stirred up a decade of controversy that was as much political, economic, and cultural as it was technological) to the adoption of the Unicode system.



The Industrial Organization of Hong Kong's Progression Toward a Cashless Economy (1960s-2000s)

06/02/2016 2:31 pm PST

A dramatic change occurred in retail banking technology in Hong Kong between 1960 and 2000. Initially, the relevant technologies were installed and managed within the boundaries of large banks, such as HSBC. Over the course of this period, however, the industrial organization of the relevant technologies transformed to include provisions outsourced to nonbank institutions. This article seeks to account for this shift in the organization of computer technology. Specifically, the authors compare the adoption of computers at HSBC in the 1960s and 1970s with the Octopus micropayment system, which was developed in the 1990s by a consortium that excluded financial firms, thanks to the development (both in terms of depth and breadth) of an epistemic community of computer professionals and computer-literate managers in Hong Kong.



Retrospective Computing and Consumer-Led Development

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

Amiga technology came into being decades ago. The concepts (and some of the actual system components) had staying power despite the failure of the original manufacturer. Developers and users around the world continue to push and use Amiga derived and expanded technology. This is more than retrocomputing as a desire to simply reclaim past computing technology. This is an example of continued technology development by a community of invested users, a sort of consumer-led development.



Raymond Tomlinson: Email Pioneer, Part 1

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

Raymond (Ray) Tomlinson was a computer engineer best known for developing the TENEX operating system and implemented the first email program on the Arpanet system in 1971. In its official biography, the Internet Hall of Fame states that "Tomlinson's email program brought about a complete revolution, fundamentally changing the way people communicate." This interview is the first in a two-part Annals series based on an oral history conducted by Marc Weber and Gardner Hendrie for the Computer History Museum (CHM) in June 2009.



Reviews

06/02/2016 2:30 pm PST

This Reviews department article covers Dependable and Historic Computing: Essays Dedicated to Brian Randell on the Occasion of His 75th Birthday edited by Cliff B. Jones and John L. Lloyd (Springer, 2011), Inside the Machine: Art and Invention in the Electronic Age by Megan Prelinger (W.W. Norton & Company, 2015), and The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0 by Payal Arora (Routledge, 2014).



From the Editor's Desk

05/31/2017 10:45 am PST

This issue features articles on history of the American Minitel network and the reasons for its failure by Julien Mailland, a glimpse through the Iron Curtain at the history of Soviet-era computing as seen through the eyes of Western experts by Nicholas Lewis, a history of the US Supreme Court decision Gottschalk v. Benson and how it shaped our understanding of software, a look at the IBM Advanced Computer System (ACS) and Project Y, and the second in a two-part series on the challenge of writing contemporary history by James Cortada.



Ask Your Doctor... About Computers

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

How did we wind up with computers in most doctors' offices but little communication between these computers? This article briefly surveys efforts to introduce computerized, centralized, and portable electronic health records in the United States and why they have been largely unsuccessful. Historians of computing have the resources not only to help the general public think more constructively about the roles of computers in medicine, but also to see how what is happening in medicine lays bare the great and small changes the use of information technology has brought to everyday life.



101 Online: American Minitel Network and Lessons from Its Failure

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

In 1981, videotex and virtual circuits were the hot computer network technologies and promised to bring the world to the masses. Amid a worldwide battle over standards, France started Minitel, which quickly became the first successful mass-market digital information-distribution ecosystem. In 1991, France Telecom launched the American version of Minitel, 101 Online, in San Francisco. 101 Online was as massive a failure as Minitel had been a success. This article reveals the previously undocumented history of the 101 Online ecosystem, suggests reasons why it failed where Minitel had succeeded, and draws lessons for the current policy debate on what information-network architecture and implementation best fosters digital innovation.



Contested Ontologies of Software: The Story of Gottschalk v. Benson, 1963-1972

03/01/2016 1:38 pm PST

In 1972, the US Supreme Court issued Gottschalk v. Benson, one of the most prominent decisions in the history of software patenting. It ruled that a computer program developed at Bell Laboratories by Gary Benson and Arthur Tabbot was ineligible for patent protection. This article argues that the journey of Benson and Tabbot's program through the patent system from 1963 to 1972 consists of a series of "ontological contests"--that is, clashes between attorneys and federal agents who proposed mutually incompatible conceptions of the nature of software, each one designed to serve as a philosophical underpinning for patent law. This argument invites a new historical approach to the study of the history of software patenting, one that reveals how the nature of computer programs as technologies and inventions was shaped by public administrators, judges, corporate attorneys, and trade associations.



Peering through the Curtain: Soviet Computing through the Eyes of Western Experts

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

During its initial decades, computing emerged as a key technology of the Cold War. Due to a largely unidirectional flow of information into, but not out of, the Soviet Union, Western policy analysts who were wary of the growing Soviet computing prowess sought intelligence from numerous sources. Based on an examination of trip reports from Western computer experts who had visited the Soviet Union, this article looks at the interaction between Western computer specialists and their Soviet counterparts during the height of the Cold War. It describes how these interactions helped to shape and confront American perceptions of Soviet computing and the threats it posed to the West. The previously unexplored first-hand perspectives offered in these largely forgotten trip reports help to illuminate the West's fascination and fear of computer technology behind the Iron Curtain.



Studying History as It Unfolds, Part 2: Tooling Up the Historians

03/01/2016 1:38 pm PST

This article is the second in a two-part series exploring the development of the early history of information technologies, from the 1940s to the present. This article describes the evolving information infrastructure used by historians in support of their research on the history of computing and of the role of IT practitioners, computer executives, scientists, and universities in creating that support since the 1970s.



The IBM ACS Project

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

The Advanced Computer Systems (ACS) project was one of two major IBM supercomputer efforts in the second half of the 1960s. ACS had significantly more ambitious performance goals than the earlier project that developed the IBM System/360 Model 91, and the ACS-1 instruction set and processor design pioneered many features that became common some two or three decades later, such as multiple condition codes and aggressive out-of-order execution. ACS also pioneered high-speed integrated circuitry that required immersive cooling in liquid fluorocarbon. Although the project was canceled, it brought many talented engineers to California and contributed to several later developments at IBM and beyond, including the Amdahl line of System/370-compatible processors in the 1970s and the IBM 801 and POWER processors in the 1980s.



Fernando Corbató: Time-Sharing Pioneer, Part 2

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

Fernando Corbató is best known for his work developing time-sharing operating systems. Early in his career, Corbató had a key role in the development of both the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) and Multics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. This interview is the second in a two-part Annals series based on an oral history conducted by Steven Webber for the Computer History Museum in February 2006.



A Mechanical Calculator for Arithmetic Sequences (1844-1852): Part 2,Working Details

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

This article gives, for the first time, a complete description of the machine developed around 1850 by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué (1776-1856) for the mechanical computation of arithmetic sequences, of particular use in setting gear-cutting machines. The second part in a two-part series, this article presents the details behind the machine's basic operations.



Events and Sightings

03/01/2016 1:38 pm PST

This Events & Sightings installment covers a range of recent events focusing on the history of computing.



The innovators: how a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution (Isaacson, W.; 2014) [book review]

03/01/2016 1:37 pm PST

When chroniclers of technological change in the 20th century worship innovation as if it were a god, they often feel freed of the obligation to define the object of their worship. So it is with Walter Isaacson and his popular 2014 book, The Innovators, which begins with a beguiling confession by the author that innovation is “a buzzword, drained of clear meaning.” Rather than address the implications of the elusiveness of the innovation concept or set down the terms of his engagement with the history of computing, which is more closely the subject of his book, the authod does neither, thus squandering a chance to present himself as what he probably aspires to be: a bridge builder between the two mighty rivers of innovation studies. On the one hand, the author recounts the birth, life, and death of digital artifacts; on the other hand, he highlights the people and subcultures that shape digital innovations. But without a framework for understanding innovation, as activity and aspiration, the author squanders an opportunity to clarify the relationship between the imperatives of digital electronics and the various ways in which cultures and personalities construct and reconstruct their computers and computer networks in pursuit of human aims.



Historicizing Internet Use in China and the Problem of the User Figure

12/10/2015 5:24 pm PST

To those writing user-centric histories, China provides an opportunity to look at the profound implications of the underlying conceptions of the user figure and thus highlights the importance of the historian's critical awareness. Although rigorous scholarly histories on the subject are still in their infancy, historical narratives about the Chinese Internet prevail in popular media, institutional reports, and scholarly works. However, these narratives are generally organized around two visions of the Chinese Internet and its users. In this article, the author digs deeper into these preestablished conceptions and illustrates how they do not account for historical understandings of Internet use and sociocultural changes.



Fernando Corbató: Time-Sharing Pioneer, Part 1

12/10/2015 5:24 pm PST

Fernando Corbató is best known for his work developing time-sharing operating systems. Early in his career, Corbató had a key role in the development of both the Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) and Multics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1960s. In 1990, Corbató received the Turing Award "for his pioneering work in organizing the concepts and leading the development of the general-purpose, large-scale, time-sharing and resource-sharing computer systems," and he was made a fellow of the Computer History Museum (CHM) in 2012. This interview is the first in a two-part Annals series based on an oral history conducted by Steven Webber for the CHM in February 2006.



History of Computing in Latin America [Guest editors' introduction]

12/10/2015 5:24 pm PST

The collection of articles on the history of computing in Latin America reflects a growing body of work looking at the influences and effects of computer technology in the region. The articles here cover a broad range of topics, including the degree of dissemination of computer machinery, the availability of local expertise, the regulation of the computer markets, the quantity and quality of local activities involving computers, the role played by the state, and the relations between the computer and telecommunication sectors.



Small Step for Machines, Giant Leap for Mexico: A Local History of Computing

12/10/2015 5:23 pm PST

This article presents a brief history of how computing started and evolved in Mexico. From the first computer installed in 1958 to the present day, the authors analyze the role computer science has played in Mexico, looking at its limitations, opportunities, academic programs, government, and related industries as the motor of computer science development. They describe how research has gone from an approach centered only on applications development to the creation of research institutions granting advanced degrees and a growing community of researchers.



Between Matilde and the Internet: Computerizing the University of Costa Rica (1968-1993)

12/10/2015 5:23 pm PST

This article analyzes the process of development of a scientific community of computer experts at the University of Costa Rica (UCR), emphasizing the historical interactions among scientists, students, and institutions, while showing the main debates and features of a specific technological project. The analysis centers on the period from UCR's acquisition of Matilde, the first mainframe for numerical data processing (1968), to its final connection to the Internet (1993).



The Beginning of Computer Science in Argentina and the Calculus Institute, 1957-1970

12/10/2015 5:24 pm PST

At the end of 1960, Argentina began to incorporate its first computers and develop computing research projects and training programs. This early period overlapped with an renovation movement, and the most notable efforts to appropriate the new technology were initiated at the universities. Led by mathematician Manuel Sadosky, the most relevant contribution came from the Calculus Institute (Instituto de Cálculo, IC) at the University of Buenos Aires. From 1961 to 1966, equipped with a Ferranti Mercury computer, the IC went through a period of rapid growth, and it was fundamental to creating the first computer science degree program in Latin America. After the country's coup d'état in 1966, approximately 90 percent of IC's personnel resigned. Afterward, no institution could match its scientific and professional expertise nor equal its authority and leadership in the field, despite the modernizing rhetoric of the new authorities.