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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 11 Number 2 -- Reviews

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129606D
Original Publication Date: 1988-Mar-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 4 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

WILLIAM ASPRAY: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The Reviews Department features reviews of films, audio and videotapes, exhibits, and publications relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of any technical, economic, business, social, or institutional aspect of the history of computing will be given a complete review. Dissertations, articles, and other studies of interest to Annals readers will be listed in a section on ";Other Literature,"; with full bibliographic citation and notes on its nature and availability. From time to time we will also invite longer essay reviews on important research topics, the published literature on these topics, and further opportunities for research. Most reviews are solicited, but colleagues are encouraged to participate by indicating their wish to review a work or by suggesting titles to the Reviews Editor. NB: Reviews without bylines are by the editor.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 25% of the total text.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1989 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Reviews

WILLIAM ASPRAY, EDITOR

The Reviews Department features reviews of films, audio and videotapes, exhibits, and publications relating to the history of computing. Full-length studies of any technical, economic, business, social, or institutional aspect of the history of computing will be given a complete review. Dissertations, articles, and other studies of interest to Annals readers will be listed in a section on "Other Literature," with full bibliographic citation and notes on its nature and availability. From time to time we will also invite longer essay reviews on important research topics, the published literature on these topics, and further opportunities for research.

Most reviews are solicited, but colleagues are encouraged to participate by indicating their wish to review a work or by suggesting titles to the Reviews Editor.

NB: Reviews without bylines are by the editor.

REVIEWS

Flamm, Kenneth, Creating the Computer: Government, Industry and High Technology. Washington, D.C., The Brookings Institution, 1988, xi + 282 pp.

It is difficult in a short review to encapsulate the contents of Creating the Computer. This is not to say that the book lacks organization -- far from it: the author, Kenneth Flamm, has done an admirable job in bringing to order an exceptionally wide-ranging study in about 250 pages of text. Briefly, the book covers a half-century of the development of the computer taking in its technological basis, the role of the military and government in its development, the evolution of the computer industry, and the international dimension. For the purposes of this review, the book can be considered in two parts: the historical background, and the current environment.

So far as the historical background is concerned, Flamm presents an overview of the technological basis for computing that was largely shaped in the 1940s and 1950s, in terms of electronic components, storage systems, architecture and software. He brings together comprehensive evidence, some of it in the form of case studies and some in the form of detailed tabulations, to show that these developments

(Image Omitted: "were often pioneered in projects that enjoyed government support" (p. 28).)

A full chapter on the "Military Roots" documents the extent to which the early American computer industry was indebted to the U.S. military. Flamm's history strongly confirms the contemporary European belief that the backwardness of its computer technology was due to the absence of government support. In the 1960s, the American domination of the computer and other high-technology industries led to the widespread recognition of "the American challenge" and a rash of government sponsored projects in Britain, France, and Germany. Flamm, most unusually for an American author, devotes a full c...