Starring the Computer

Starring the Computer

"Starring the Computer is a website dedicated to the use of computers in film and television. Each appearance is catalogued and rated on its importance (ie. how important it is to the plot), realism (how close its appearance and capabilities are to the real thing) and visibility (how good a look does one get of it). Fictional computers don't count (unless they are built out of bits of real computer), so no HAL9000 - sorry."

Who Invented E-mail?


Our esteemed chair, Tom Haigh, noticed a rather shocking set of stories in the mainstream press today that claimed that a man previously unknown to the computer history community was, in fact, the inventor of e-mail:

Obituaries in the History of Computing, 2011

The Board of Digital Equipment (Ken Thompson is at center)

Last year, around this time, I submitted a blog post summarizing the obituaries of a number of major figures in the history of computing who died in 2010. Given the worldwide headlines in response to the death of Steve Jobs two months ago, I think it makes sense to turn that post into a yearly tradition, reminding us of the less-recognized contributors to the history of computing who we have lost.   I was, in fact, rather stunned at the number of names turned up by a simple search for stories containing "obituary" and "computer"  in the last twelve months in the New York Times.  The computing of the 1960s and 70s is now rapidly passing out of the realm contemporary and oral history.Here's what I turned up:

Thanks to all for another successful SIGCIS workshop

Cleveland Public Art 2011

This year's workshop has now come and gone successfully and thanks are in order for all of the speakers and attendees who made it a success. Tom Misa has offered slides from his keynote talk to be posted here.

This year, we had (fittingly, I think) more content from the SHOT conference as a whole showing up in posts on Twitter and other social networking sites like Google+. You can read the Twitter coverage of the events at #SHOT2011, as well as #HSS2011 and #4S2011. Significantly, the Robinson prize winner's paper not only got tweeted about and reddited, but also written up in The Atlantic.

This seems like an exciting time for our community as a whole to be able to reach new audiences. I heartily encourage everyone to think about how they might integrate these new technologies for public discourse into their next trip to SHOT and the SIGCIS workshop, and let us know if you come up with any brilliant ideas on how to do so! I hope to tweet the next meeting again from @histoftech, and I'll also be tweeting history of technology tidbits in the interim.

And, don't forget to send in your syllabi for our syllabus repository when you get a chance: there are plans in the works to link this repository and other SIGCIS resources with the main SHOT website, gradually building out a more robust set of history of technology resources offered by SHOT online.

Attached to this post are a few pictures from the event. For more, see Tom Haigh's photos on the SIGCIS facebook page.

SHOT 2011 Syllabi Session

Workshop 2011

After today's syllabus session at SHOT it seems like an ideal time to remind folks that we have a great repository of syllabi in the history of computing, information, and technology here on the site. Go to or navigate down to "syllabi" in the bar on the left hand side.

It is also an opportune time to ask for more contributions. If you have a syllabus that you'd like to share that deals with history of computing, history of technology, history of communication, or anything else that fits with the SIGCIS's mission and interests, please post a link in the comments section on the syllabus page, and I'll add your syllabus to the list. Or, you can email your syllabus to me at in a PDF file.

We're also making efforts to link up our syllabus resources with the main SHOT website, potentially in a way that creates new searching and sorting capabilities, so keep an eye out for that!

Backstage at the Creation of the iPod


Apropos of my post a while back on the hidden engineers behind Steve Jobs' recent triumph, video-game historian Benj Edwards has posted an article on MacWorld that provides a nice synthetic account of the origins of the iPod.  

Syndicate content