Thomas Haigh on "The Other Women of ENIAC: Rethinking IT Innovation"

On March 20, 2017, Thomas Haigh, PhD engaged in conversation with Alan J Weissberger, ScD at an IEEE Silicon Valley History meeting in Santa Clara, CA. Tom talked about his education, industrail and academic career, upcoming book projects and the evolution of computing.  Of particular interest was his remark that "you don't learn about history of computing in a university computer science program.  

IEEE Milestone Dedication for SHAKEY: The First Robot With Artificial Intelligence

When I came to Santa Clara, CA in the Spring of 1970 the hottest topics were artificial intelligence and its manifestation in Shakey the robot. There were several IEEE talks per quarter on that topic at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park.

SHAKEY has had a huge impact on artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous vehicles. Technology used by the Mars rovers and in Google Maps is based on the Shortest Path Algorithm devised at SRI during SHAKEY's 1966-72 development period. This video is fun to watch.

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email?

Did V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai Invent Email? A Computer Historian Responds

Now includes both the original 2012 article comissioned by the Washington Post, a lengthy extension covering Ayyadurai's susequent claims added in August 2012, a second update focused on Ayyadurai's new book The Email Revolution: Unleashing the Power to Connect (Allworth, 2013), and a third update covering the evolution of Ayyadurai's public relations campaign over the next two years.

This page has become rather long, so here is the one paragraph version, focused on some inaccuracies in recent press reports (added September 2014):  V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai is not a member of the MIT faculty and did not invent email. In 1980 he created a small-scale electronic mail system used within University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, but this could not send messages outside the university and included no important features missing from earlier systems. The details of Ayyadurai’s program were never published, it was never commercialized, and it had no apparent influence on any further work in the field. He does not “hold the patent for email” or have a copyright on the word email, though in 1982 he did register a copyright claim covering the exact text of a program called "EMAIL."  The U.S. Government has not recognized him as the inventor of email and he did not win the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for his program. Electronic mail services were widely used in the 1960s and 1970s and were commercially available long before 1980. To substantiate his claim to be the "inventor of email" Ayyadurai would have to show that no electronic mail system was produced prior to 1980, and so he has recently created an absurdly specific and historically inaccurate definition of electronic mail designed to exclude earlier systems.  Ayyadurai has not even been able to show that he was the first to contract “electronic mail” to “email” or “e-mail” – his first documented use is in 1981 whereas the Oxford English Dictionary shows a newspaper usage in 1979. Despite Ayyadurai’s energetic public relations campaign, which presents him as the victim of a racist conspiracy financed by corporate interests, he has not received support from any credible experts in email technology or the history of information technology. His claims have been widely debunked by technology bloggers and articles based on them have been retracted by the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

History Session @ Flash Memory Summit, Aug 7th, Santa Clara, CA

Session 302-C: An Interview with Simon Sze, Co-Inventor of the Floating Gate (History Track)
Organizer: Brian A. Berg, President, Berg Software Design


Simon Sze, Professor, National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan)

Session Description:

What was the origin of the “floating gate” transistor, the foundation for all of today’s nonvolatile memory? Believe it or not, it arose out of a lunchtime conversation at Bell Labs about replacing core memory and layered chocolate or cheesecake! Come hear Simon Sze, father of the floating gate, share details of this and many other interesting stories about how storage technology has progressed, including work by Intel, Toshiba, and many now-forgotten companies.

Intended Audience:

Learning about Infrastructure, and Infrastructures for Learning: Insights on Pedagogy from the SIGCIS

Infrastructure on IIT's campus

As I mentioned recently on the listserve, this year there will be a panel on the main SHOT program discussing how SIG concerns are integrated into teaching. As part of SHOT's new website launch, comments from this panel (and several other roundtables) are being made available in advance. I'll be representing the SIGCIS at this teaching panel, and below I've posted a draft of my comments.

Please come to the panel if you are at the conference--the full title of the panel is "Integrating SHOT SIG Concerns into the Teaching of History of Technology: Rethinking Modes of Instruction in a Diverse Communities" and it takes place on Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is part of the President's Roundtable program.

Learning about Infrastructure, and Infrastructures for Learning: Insights on Pedagogy from the SIGCIS

Our SIG is sometimes viewed as the “computer history SIG” and while that forms an important part of what we do, I would like to start by emphasizing that it is only one part of what we do. Members of our SIG work on topics ranging from telegraphy to labor history, and from voice recognition to video games. Collectively, we are interested in much more than a narrowly-defined computing history: our mandate is to study how computers, information, and society interact, shaping the human experience in the process. As a result, one of the main teaching goals of the SIGCIS is to help students learn how to contend with technologies of infrastructure that creep into all aspects of our lives, from the broadest to the most personal level.

The Betrayal of the Internet Imaginaire

In a recent blog post, The Betrayel of the Internet Imaginaire, SIGCIS Chair Elect Andy Russell offers a fresh perspective on Snowden, the NSA, and Internet politics. Drawing insight from historical and social studies of technology, he especially focuses on whether the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) might serve as a mechanism for enabling a more open Internet - a highly germane topic given recent revelations about the extent to which our technologies and networks are riddled with backdoors and actively surveilled.

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