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The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129335D
Original Publication Date: 1980-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 6 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

PAMELA GULLARD: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Firsthand accounts of the development of a human activity are perhaps the historian's most valuable resource. The quality of the history written depends greatly on the availability of those primary sources. Yet often by the time some aspect of human endeavor is recognized as an object worthy of study, the pioneers of that endeavor are long gone and firsthand information gone with them. Fortunately, this is not true in the field of information processing. The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing (CBI), with AFIPS as a major supporter and participant, has undertaken to continue the task of conducting and otherwise promoting historical research in the field of data processing. And many pioneers in this young field are not only still alive, but are participating in the development of the institute and its programs.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1980 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc., Volume 2, Number 1, January 1980. Used with permission.

The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing

PAMELA GULLARD

(Image Omitted: Author's address: Pamela Gullard, Staff Editor, The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing, Suite 224, 701 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304. Keywords and phrases: Babbage, history of computing, CBI; CR category: 1.2.)

Firsthand accounts of the development of a human activity are perhaps the historian's most valuable resource. The quality of the history written depends greatly on the availability of those primary sources. Yet often by the time some aspect of human endeavor is recognized as an object worthy of study, the pioneers of that endeavor are long gone and firsthand information gone with them. Fortunately, this is not true in the field of information processing. The Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing (CBI), with AFIPS as a major supporter and participant, has undertaken to continue the task of conducting and otherwise promoting historical research in the field of data processing. And many pioneers in this young field are not only still alive, but are participating in the development of the institute and its programs.

CBI was founded in late 1977 by Erwin Tomash, who has been in the mainstream of the industry for many years. Trained as an engineer, in 1946 he joined one of the first firms to be involved in computer work, Engineering Research Associates.11 In 1962, he founded Dataproducts Corporation, which has become one of the world's largest manufacturers of printers. Tomash says:

  (Image Omitted: What those of us in the field have seen through the years is not only a rapid succession of inventions and improvements, but also a remarkably rapid rate of adoption of those innovations by society. Moreover, the data processing industry has itself rapidly become a major economic force and the technology has had a profound effect on the way all enterprises function. The impact of the information revolution on the modern organization and the contemporary individual can hardly be understated. It is time that we make a comprehensive study of that revolution.)

CBI was incorporated November 28, 1977. Soon thereafter Tomash met with Paul Armer, a well-known pioneer in the field, to ask his advice about the effort. Armer became so intrigued with the idea that in the spring of 1978 he accepted the position of Executive Secretary of CBI. Armer spent most of his career at the RAND Corporation where he was head of the Computer Sciences Department. He was also involved in the formation of AFIPS and is a past president of that organization. Shortly after becoming Executive Secretary, Armer opened an office at CBI's present location in Palo Alto, California.

As a first step, Armer...