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Further Reading

General Accounts

Elting E. Morison's From Know-How to Nowhere: The Development of American Technology (NY, 1974) is a thoughtful and provocative account of engineering from colonial times to the early 20th century, emphasizing the loss of autonomy and accountability that came with modern industrial research. More recent accounts include David Freeman Hawke, Nuts and Bolts of the Past: A History of American Technology (NY, 1988), Thomas P. Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1879-1970 (NY, 1989), and Ruth Schwartz Cowan, A Social History of American Technology (Oxford U.P., 1997). Brooke Hindle and Steven Lubar provide a richly illustrated survey of industrialization in America in their Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution (Washington, 1986).

Mechanization of Spinning and Weaving

Richard L. Hills's Power in the Industrial Revolution is perhaps the most detailed and authoritative account of the mechanization of textile production, with attention to the difficulties involved and to the production of the machines themselves. In addition to Hills's comprehensive and well documented account, Walter English's The Textile Industry: An Account of the Early Inventions of Spinning, Weaving, and Knitting Machines (NY, 1969) contains detailed descriptions, supported by excellent diagrams and illustrations. Also helpful for illustrations are Maurice Daumas (ed.), A History of Technology and Invention (NY, 1978; orig. Histoire générale des techniques, Paris, 1969), vol. III, Part 7, Chaps. 1-2

The Factory System

Jennifer Tann, The Development of the Factory (London, 1970), provides the most useful guide to the subject.

As a social experiment to reconcile industry with democratic values, Lowell has intrigued labor historians almost as much as it did contemporary observers. The most comprehensive account, based on payroll records and tax inventories, is Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation Of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860 (NY, 1979). His Farm to Factory: Women's Letters, 1830-1860 (NY, 1981) transmits the workers' own words about their lives, as does Philip S. Foner's The Factory Girls (Urbana, 1977), meant to counteract the rosy picture painted in the factory-sponsored Lowell Offering, which has recently been reprinted. For a collection of original sources, factory views, and maps, see Gary Kulik, Roger Parks, and Theodore Penn (eds.), The New England Mill Village, 1790-1860 (Documents in American Industrial History, II, Cambridge, MA, 1982).

Ford, the Model T, and the Assembly Line

Allen Nevins tells the story of the Model T, which realized Ford's vision of a cheap, reliable car for the mass market, in Vol.I of his three-volume Ford: The Times, the Man, the Company (NY, 1954). However, the vehicle tells its own story when viewed through photographs of its multifarious uses, diagrams from the user's manual and parts list, advertisements by suppliers of parts and options, and stories about the "Tin Lizzie". Floyd Clymer's Historical Motor Scrapbook: Ford's Model T (Arleta, CA, 1954) offers an assortment of such materials, along with sections of the Operating Manual and Parts List. Reproductions of the manual and parts list are also available at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Several companies produced plastic and metal models of the car in varying detail, though nothing beats seeing the car itself, perhaps in the hands of a local antique car buff.

Ford's Highland Park Plant, built to produce the Model T by his new methods, caught the attention of industrial engineers when it began full assembly-line operation in 1914. As a result, journals of the day offered extensive descriptions and illustrations of the plant. Perhaps the most informative contemporary source, Horace L. Arnold and Fay L. Faurote, Ford Methods and the Ford Shops, began as a series of articles in Engineering Magazine. Faurote, was a member of the Taylor Society and his account looks at Highland Park from the perspective of Scientific Management, especially in its emphasis on the paperwork involved in management of workers and inventory. David Hounshell's account in Chapters 6 and 7 of From the American System to Mass Production (Baltimore, 1984) draws liberally from the photo collection of the Ford Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution has a short film loop depicting the assembly line in action. Lindy Bigg's The Rational Factory: Architecture, Technology, and Work in America's Age of Mass Production (Baltimore, 1996) analyzes the Ford plants as buildings in motion.

The Computer

William Aspray and Martin Campbell-Kelly provide perhaps the best historical account of the computer in Computer: A History of the Information Machine (Cambridge, 19, emphasizing the environments into which it was introduced when it was new and the role they played in shaping its development.Another recent history is Paul Ceruzzi's A History of Modern Computing (Cambridge, MA, 1998), which provides considerable detail about the development of the industry. For the development of the machine itself, Stan Augarten's Bit by Bit: An Illustrated History of Computers is a generally reliable, engagingly written, and richly illustrated survey from early methods of counting to the PC and supercomputer. Michael R. Williams's A History of Computing Technology (Prentice-Hall, 1985) takes a more scholarly approach to the same material but emphasizes developments before the computer itself. In 407 pages of text, the slide rule appears at p.111 and ENIAC at p.271; coverage ends with the IBM/360 series. Although once useful as a general account, Herman Goldstine's still oft-cited The Computer from Pascal to Von Neumann (Princeton, 1973) retains its value primarily for its personal account of the ENIAC project and of the author's subsequent work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Martin Davis' The Universal Computer:  The Road from Leibniz to Turing (New York, 2000) has recently joined Sybille Krämer's Symbolische Maschinen: die Idee der Formalisierung in geschichtlichem Abriss (Darmstadt, 1988) in relating the origins of the computer in the development of mathematical logic. William Aspray's dissertation, "From Mathematical Constructivity to Computer Science: Alan Turing, John von Neumann, and the Origins of Computer Science" (Wisconsin, 1980), covers the period from Hilbert's Program to the design of EDVAC, as does Martin Davis's "Mathematical Logic and the Origin of Modern Computers", in Esther R. Phillips (ed.), Studies in the History of Mathematics (MAA Studies in Mathematics, Vol.26; NY, 1987). The nineteenth-century background belongs to the history of mathematics and of logic proper, but the scholarly literature in those fields is spotty. Andrew Hodges's biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma (NY, 1983), is a splendid account of Turing's work and served as the basis for a compelling stage play, Breaking the Code. Aspray's John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing (MIT, 1990) explores in some detail von Neumann's work both in the design and the application of computers.

Those who want to get right down into the workings of the computer should turn to Charles Petzold, Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Redmond, WA, 1999). Softer introductions may be found in Alan W. Biermann's Great Ideas in Computer Science: A Gentle Introduction (2nd ed., MIT Press, 1997) and Jay David Bolter's Turing's Man: Western Culture in the Computer Age (Chapel Hill, 1984

The development of the computer industry is only now coming under the scrutiny of historians, and most of the current literature stems from journalists. The foremost exceptions are the recent books by Paul Ceruzzi and by William Aspray and Martin Campbell-Kelly, both of which offer a much needed and long awaited survey of the history of the industry from its pre-computer roots to the present. For a review of the state of the field several years ago, see my article, "The History of Computing in the History of Technology", Annals of the History of Computing 10(1988), 113-125 [pdf], updated in "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. The Annals themselves constitute one of the most important sources. Among the most useful accounts are Augarten's Bit by Bit; Kenneth Flamm, Creating the Computer: Government, Industry, and High Technology (Washington, 1988); Katharine Davis Fishman, The Computer Establishment (NY, 1981); Howard Rheingold Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology (NY, 1985), and Pamela McCorduck, Machines Who Think (San Francisco, 1979). David E. Lundstrom's A Few Good Men from Univac (Cambridge, MA, 1987) provides a critical look at the early industry, while the collaborative effort of Charles J. Bashe, Lyle R. Johnson, John H. Palmer, and Emerson W. Pugh on IBM's Early Computers (Cambridge, MA, 1986) provides an exhaustively detailed account, based on company documents, of IBM's entry into the market and the series of machines up to the 360, which is the subject of a second volume now nearing completion. Paul Freiburger and Michael Swaine's Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer (Berkeley, 1984) remains one of the best accounts of the early days of the PC industry.

The history of software remains largely unwritten and must be gleaned from the professional literature.  For overviews see my articles, "The Roots of Software Engineering", CWI Quarterly, 3,4(1990), 325-34 [pdf] and "Software: The Self-Programming Machine", in Atsushi Akera and Frederik Nebeker (eds.), From 0 to 1:  An Authoritative History of Modern Computing (New York: Oxford U.P., to appear 2002), as well as the entry "Software History" in Anthony Ralston et al., Encyclopedia of Computer Science, 4th edition (London, 2000).  For "A Gentle Introduction" to what software is about, see Alan W. Biermann, Great Ideas in Computer Science (Cambridge, MA, 1997).

There is a growing number of personal accounts and reminiscences by computer people.  Among the most thought-provoking and least self-serving are Ellen Ullman, Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents (San Francisco, 1997), Richard P. Gabriel, Patterns of Software:  Tales from the Software Community (New York, 1996), and Robert N. Britcher, The Limits of Software:  People, Projects, and Perspectives (Reading, MA, 1999).

The Politics of Artifacts

Winner's Autonomous Technology: Technics-out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought (Cambridge, MA, 1977) is a fully developed statement of the issues discussed in his article. Literature on the political assumptions underlying technology abound; indeed, some of it provoked this course in the first place. Among the more recent and more interesting are David F. Noble, Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation (NY/Oxford, 1986), Walter A. McDougall, ...The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (NY 1985), Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (NY, 1988),  Paul N. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in the Cold War (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1996), and Gene I. Rochlin, Trapped in the Net : The Unanticipated Consequences of Computerization (Princeton: PU Press, 1997).

Perhaps the most famous example discussed by Winner is the story of Robert Moses and the parkway bridges designed too low to allow access by bus to Jones Beach.  The story, taken from Robert Caro's well known biography of Moses, turns out on close examination to be inaccurate in several details.  For a discussion of the story and its use by Winner, see Bernward Joerges, "Do Politics Have Artefacts?" Social Studies of Science 29,3(1999), 411-31 [JSTOR], Steve Woolgar and Geoff Cooper, "Do Artefacts Have Ambivalence? Moses' Bridges, Winner's Bridges, and Other Urban Legends in S&TS", Ibid., 433-49 [JSTOR], and Joerges, "Scams Cannot Be Busted: Reply to Cooper and Woolgar", Ibid., 45-57 [JSTOR]

As of 1996, the Internet and the World Wide Web, especially when grouped together under the concept of the National Information Superhighway, have become prime subjects for political and cultural analysis along the lines suggested by this week's readings and by the interpretive themes of the course.  For the history of the Internet, see Janet Abbate, Inventing the Internet (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999). An article written twenty five years ago retains its pertinence. In "The Mythos of the Electronic Revolution" (American Scholar 39(1969-70), 219-241, 395-424), James W. Quirk and John J. Carey place the claims of the 1930s for a revolution of electrical power in the framework of Leo Marx's Machine in the Garden and showing how the notions of the "electronic village" or the "technotronic era" fashionable in the last '60s are similarly 20th-century evocations of the middle landscape. Cyberspace would seem to be the latest.

Albert Borgmann's Holding Onto Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium  is one of a spate of recent books attempting to place the "information revolution" into some sort of historical perspective.  Others include: Michael E. Hobart and Zachary S. Schiffman, Information Ages: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Computer Revolution (Baltimore, 1998); James J. O'Donnell, Avatars of the Word:  From Papyrus to Cyberspace (Cambridge, MA, 1998). Less historical but nonetheless suggestive are John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information (Boston, 2000) and Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge, MA, 1999).  Books on the Internet abound; perhaps the most important is Lawrence Lessig's Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (New York, 1999), followed now by his The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (New York, 2001).