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Why AFIPS Invested in History

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129513D
Original Publication Date: 1986-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 8 page(s) / 35K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

WALTER M. CARLSON: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Answering questions about what AFIPS did or did not do is much easier now than it was when the actions occurred.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 12% of the total text.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1986 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Why AFIPS Invested in History

WALTER M. CARLSON

(Image Omitted: © 1986 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 "History of Computing] -- people; K.7 [The Computing Profession] --AFIPS, organizations. General Terms: Management Author's Address: 216 West Hilton Drive, Boulder Creek, Ca 95006. © 1986

AFIPS 0164-1239/86/030270-274

Why AFIPS Invested in History

WALTER M. CARLSON .00/00)

Answering questions about what AFIPS did or did not do is much easier now than it was when the actions occurred.

The simple answer to the question of why AFIPS invested in history -- given the benefit of today's 20/ 20 hindsight -- is that there is no economic market for the history of contemporary technology. In the special case of information technology, everyone involved is far too busy keeping up with today's events and tomorrow's predictions, and no time is available to be concerned about yesterday.

At the end of this story, however, the diligent reader will see some light at the end of the tunnel. Work on the history of computing has now become recognized as a scholarly discipline worthy of support.

At the outset, though, no market or academic stimulants were available, so action became the responsibility of the nonprofit sector, comprised mainly of academia, government, and the professional societies. When computers and their related information processing technologies burst on the scene, academic and governmental agencies played key roles in creating the fundamental building blocks. The economic driving forces were provided by industry, however, and the scope and health of the information processing profession as we know it today were molded in response to industry's requirements.

The formation of AFIPS in 1961 and its evolution are described elsewhere in this issue of the Annals. What follows is a personal recollection and reflection on how the profession faced up to the specific type of "market forces" that have existed in the case of the history of information processing.

Looking back, I can define four distinct time segments to help show the evolution of research in computer history and the part AFIPS has played. 1961-1967 - Clarification of needs 1967-1973 - Initial investments 1973-1979 - Broadening the base Since 1979 - Finding the market

IEEE Computer Society, Jul 01, 1986 Page 1 I...