Freshman Seminar 122w, Spring 1998: The World of the Computer
Professor Michael S. Mahoney
Wednesday, 1:30-4:30, Forbes College

Books to be Purchased:
Frederick P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month (20th Anniversary edition; Addison Wesley)
Robert Cringeley, Accidental Empires (Harper Business)
Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine (Basic Books)
Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Highway (Doubleday)
Joseph M. Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (Chicago)
Shoshanna Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine (NY: Basic Books)

Other readings will be handed out in class or will be on reserve at Firestone Library.

Week I (4 February) Getting Started: What do we want to know?
M.S.Mahoney, "The History of Computing in the History of Technology", Annals of the History of Computing 10(1988), 113-125, and "Issues in the History of Computing", in Thomas J. Bergin and Rick G. Gibson (eds.), History of Programming Languages II (NY: ACM Press, 1996), 772-81
George H. Daniels, "The Big Questions in the History of American Technology", Technology and Culture 11,1(1970), 1-21.
Week II (11 February) What is a computer?
Christopher H. Nevison, Turing Machines and What Can Be Computed (copies to be distributed in class). A working Turing machine emulator for DOS goes with the text; download it, run Nevison's examples, then experiment writing your own routines. Also available through the Web is an emulator for Wintel machines
John von Neumann, "First Draft of a Report on the Edvac" (1945) and "General and logical theory of automata" (1954)
Optional and Background
William Aspray (ed.), Computing Before Computers
Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing, The Enigma (visit Hodge's extensive Turing home page, which includes a link to a working Turing Machine applet)
William Aspray, John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing
Week III (18 February) Computers in the Business World
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chaps. 1-6
Martin Greenberger, "The Computers of Tomorrow", Atlantic Monthly, May 1964
Optional and Background
James W. Cortada, The Computer in the United States: From Laboratory to Market, 1930-1960
Katharine Davis Fishman, The Computer Establishment
Emerson W. Pugh, Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and its Technology
John Hendry, Innovating For Failure: Government Policy and the Early British Computer Industry
David E. Lundstrom, A Few Good Men From Univac
For other studies of the industry, check out the Firestone shelves around call number HD9696.
Week IV (25 February) Thinking with Computers
Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think". That online copy has links, which are worth following out. The original article appeared in Atlantic Monthly for July 1945, and the magazine has also posted an online version. You will find a downloadable animation of the Memex at the Dynamic Diagrams Interactive Publications site.
J.C.R. Licklider, "Man-Computer Symbiosis", IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, HFE-1(1960), 4-11, and "The Computer as Communication Device", Science and Technology, April 1968 [reprints by Systems Research Center of DEC, Palo Alto; also available online]
Doug [Douglas C.] Engelbart, "The Augmented Knowledge Workshop", in A History of Personal Workstations (ed. Adele Goldberg; ACM Press, 1988), 185-232; cf. his "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework", prepared for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in 1962
Optional and Background
Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology
James M. Nyce and Paul Kahn, From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine (Boston: Academic Press, 1991)
On J.C.R. Licklider's leadership of DARPA's Information Processing Technology Office, see Arthur L. Norberg and Judy E. O'Neill, Transforming Computer Technology: Information Processing for the Pentagon, 1962-1986 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996)
Week V (4 March) Modeling the World
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chap. 7
Jay W. Forrester, "Managerial Decision Making", in Computers and the World of the Future (MIT, 1962), Chap. 2
Paul N. Edwards, "The World in a Machine: Origins and Impacts of Early Computerized Global Systems Models" (preprint version online )
Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, Chap. 1
Robert Lilienfeld, "Systems Theory as an Ideology", Social Research 42(1975), 637-60.
Optional and Background
Paul N. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America (Mit Press, 1996)
Donella H. Meadows and J.M. Robinson, The Electronic Oracle: Computer Models and Social Decisions (Chichester/New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1985)
Week VI (11 March) Thinking Machines
Alan M. Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", Mind 59(1950)
John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, Claude E. Shannon, A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence (1956)
Marvin Minsky, "Steps Toward Artificial Intelligence", in Edward Feigenbaum and Julian Feldman, Computers and Thought (1963), 406-450.
Allen Newell, "Intellectual Issues in the History of Artificial Intelligence", in Fritz Machlup and Una Mansfeld (eds.), The Study of Information: Interdisciplinary Messages, 187-227
"Artificial Intelligence: A Debate" ( John Searle vs. Paul and Patricia Churchland), Scientific American (January 1990), 25-37
Optional and Background
Hubert L. Dreyfus, What Computers Can't Do (Harper & Row, 1972)
Pamela McCorduck, Machines Who Think (W.H. Freeman, 1979)
Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind (Simon and Schuster, 1986)
Daniel Crevier, AI: The Tumultuous History of the Search for Artificial Intelligence (Basic Books, 1993)
Week VII (25 March) The World of the Programmer
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chap. 8
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr., The Mythical Man-Month
Optional and Background
Gerald M. Weinberg, The Psychology of Computer Programming (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, [1971])
Philip Kraft, Programmers and Managers: The Routinization of Computer Programming in the United States (New York: Springer-Verlag, c1977)
Richard L. Wexelblat, History of Programming Languages (New York: Academic Press, 1981)
Thomas J. Bergin, Jr. and Richard G. Gibson, Jr., History of Programming Languages II, (New York: ACM Press, 1996)
Week VIII (1 April) The World of Unix
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chap. 9
Michael and Rhonda Hauben, "On the Early History and Impact of Unix: Tools to Build the Tools for a New Millenium", in Netizens: An Anthology, Chap. 9
Michael S. Mahoney (ed.), "The Unix Oral History Project: Release.0, The Beginning" (AT&T Bell Laboratories, 1989); see the people mentioned
[Added 01/07/2006] As a final project, the members of the seminar edited the transcripts of the interviews, wrote precis, and collaborated on a joint "Oral History of Unix"; all the material is at the link.
D.M. Ritchie, "Reflections on software research", Communications of the ACM 27,8(1984), 758-60
Ken Thompson, "Reflections on trusting trust", ibid., 761-763
Optional and Background
Check out the Web page for Multics, where you will find online copies of many of the seminal historical sources.
On the origins of time-sharing, see John McCarthy's Memorandum to P.M. Morse Proposing Time Sharing (1959) and his Reminiscences on the History of Time Sharing
Dennis M. Ritchie, "The Development of the C Language"
Brian W. Kernighan and Peter J. Plauger, The Elements of Programming Style (NY: McGraw-Hill, 1974; 2nd ed. 1978) and Software Tools, (Reading, MA: Addison Wesley, 1976)
Week IX (8 April) Microworlds
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chaps. 10, 11
Robert X. Cringely, Accidental Empires
Optional and Background
Ted Nelson, Computer Lib/Dream Machines (Redmond, WA: Tempus Books of Microsoft Press, 1987; original edition, 1974)
Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine, Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer (Berkeley: Osborne/McGraw-Hill, 1984)
Susan Lammers, Programmers at Work (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 1986) [Interviews with many of the people discussed in this week's readings]
Randall E. Stross, Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing (New York: Athenaeum, 1993) [What happened after Jobs resigned from Apple in 1985, or where the machine on my desk came from and why it is obsolescent]
James Chposky and Ted Leonsis, Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer (NY: Facts on File Publications, 1988)
Douglas K. Smith and Robert C. Alexander, Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer (NY: William Morrow & Co., 1988)
Michael A. Cusumano and Richard W. Selby, Microsoft Secrets: How the World's Most Powerful Software Company Creates Technology, Shapes Markets, and Manages People (NY: The Free Press, 1995),
Week X (15 April) - Computers and the World of Work
John Diebold, "Automation - The New Technology", Harvard Business Review [hereafter HBR] 31,6(1953), 63-71
James R. Bright, "How to Evaluate Automation", HBR 33,4(1955), 101-111
Charles R. Walker, "Life in the Automatic Factory", HBR 36,1(1958), 111-119
Shoshanna Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine (NY: Basic Books, 1988), Chaps. 1 (pp. 19-24), 2, 4
Week XI (22 April) - A Man's World?
Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen
Optional and Background
"Women in Computing", Communications of the ACM 38,1(January 1995), 26-82
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 18,3 (Fall 1996) is dedicated to articles on women in computing; see in particular W. Barkley Fritz, "The Women of ENIAC"
Week XII (29 April) The World of the Internet
Campbell-Kelly and Aspray, Computer, Chap. 12; cf. review by MSM
Clifford Stoll, Silicon Snake Oil
Optional and Background
Collection of online articles on the History of the Internet
See also Internet History and WWW History: Internet Resources
Harvard Information Infrastructure Project