Computer History Museum Prize

The Computer History Museum Prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding book in the history of computing broadly conceived, published during the prior three years. The prize of $1,000 is awarded by SIGCIS, the Special Interest Group for Computers, Information and Society. SIGCIS is part of the Society for the History of Technology. 

In 2012 the prize was endowed in perpetuity through a generous bequest from the estate of Paul Baran, a legendary computer innovator and entrepreneur best known for his work to develop and promote the packet switching approach on which modern networks are built. Baran was a longtime supporter of work on the history of information technology and named the prize to celebrate the contributions of the Computer History Museum to that field. 

2023 Nomination instructions coming soon!


2022 Winner

Jacob Gaboury, Image Objects: An Archaeology of Computer Graphics (MIT Press, 2021)


Elegant and thorough, Image Objects was both enjoyable to read and exciting to engage with. The committee was particularly impressed by Jacob Gaboury’s extensive range of methodological tools, each revealing a different aspect of what he astutely describes as a “phenomenal invisibility of computer graphics.” The judges found especially compelling the book’s arguments regarding the materiality of computation—arguments that the author points out are resistant to “revolutionary” narratives of computing history. With its carefully crafted assemblage of chapters, each focusing on a technical artifact of choice—an algorithm, an interface, an object standard, a programming paradigm, and a hardware platform—the book’s intellectual goals embody, and will certainly further catalyze, the interdisciplinary dialogues of the SIGCIS community.

2022 Prize Committee Members

Jean Kumagai (committee chair)
IEEE Spectrum

Ksenia Tatarchenko
School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University

Nathan Ensmenger
Associate Professor, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering

Previous Winners

  • 2009: Christophe Lécuyer, Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970 (MIT Press, 2006)
  • 2010: Atsushi Akera, Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research (MIT Press, 2007)
  • 2011: Paul N. EdwardsA Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2010)
  • 2012: Eden Medina, Cybernetic Revolutionaries:Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile (MIT Press, 2011)
  • 2013: Joseph A. November, Biomedical Computing: Digitizing Life in the United States (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012)
  • 2014: Janet Abbate, Recoding Gender: Women's Changing Participation in Computing (MIT Press, 2012)
  • 2015: Rebecca Slayton, Arguments That Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 (MIT Press, 2013)
  • 2016: Dinesh C. Sharma, The Outsourcer: The Story of India's IT Revolution (MIT Press, 2015)
  • 2017: Elizabeth Petrick, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).
  • 2018: Ben Peters, How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet (MIT Press, 2016).
  • 2019: Jaroslav Švelch, Gaming the Iron Curtain How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games (MIT Press, 2018).
  • 2020: Gerardo Con Diaz, Software Rights: How Patent Law Transformed Software Development in America (New Haven: Yale University Press 2019).
  • 2021: Morgan G. Ames, The Charisma Machine: The Life, Death, and Legacy of One Laptop per Child (MIT Press, 2019).