Mahoney Fund

The Fund

SIGCIS established the Mahoney Fund in 2008, following a challenge by Ann Johnson to match her pledged giving in honor of historian of computing Michael S. Mahoney. The fund is the main capital reserve for the SIG, intended to provide a long-term income source and support for special projects. Money held in the fund has been growing proportionately with SHOT’s own endowment, which gave us strong returns to reinvest in 2009 and 2010.

The difficult economic climate is making it harder for graduate students to secure institutional funds to present at the annual SHOT meeting. Income from the fund provides ongoing support for the Michael S. Mahoney Graduate Student Travel Awards.

In 2013 we launched Phase II of the Mahoney Fund to create the Mahoney Prize, an annual award for an outstanding article in the history of computing. This will be a very fitting memorial for Mahoney, who made his contribution to our field through a series of expertly crafted articles. The goal is to generate enough investment income to support the new prize without compromising our commitment to graduate students. Update: as of January 2014 we already have $11,250 in new contributions and pledges for Phase II, which is enough to go forward with a formal proposal to SHOT to create the prize. Including money received from both phases and investment income the fund's balance had reached more than $22,200.

Contributing to the Mahoney Fund is a great way to give back to the history of computing community, help young scholars develop, and promote the field’s long-term vitality and excellence. Please take this opportunity to recognize and honor Mike’s exemplary contribution to SIGCIS and his inspiring commitment to the discovery of new scholarship in our field by donating to the Mahoney Fund.

How to Give

SIGCIS funds are held by our parent society SHOT. SHOT has asked us to request that donations for the Mahoney Fund be sent by check if possible. This process is reliable and reduces overhead. Please make your check in US dollars payable to "The Society for the History of Technology" and send it to SHOT SIGCIS, C/O Andrew Russell, College of Arts & Sciences, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Utica, New York, 13502, USA. SHOT is a properly registered charitable organization, so donations are usually tax deductible for those who pay taxes in the U.S. and take itemized deductions. SHOT's policy is to provide a written gift receipt for donations of $250 and over but receipts for smaller amounts can be provided on request.

If you do not have a United States checking account, then donations to the Mahoney Fund can also be made online. On the online form, please make sure to select the "SIGCIS" checkbox and fill in the amount to donate in to us in the corresponding text box. If you donate online please send an email to notify the SIGCIS Chair ( of your donation so we can make sure it is credited correctly. Online donors receive an electronic confirmation for their records.

About Mike Mahoney

Michael Mahoney was a prominent and irreplaceable figure in the history of computing community until his unexpected passing in summer 2008 at the age of sixty nine. That this fund bears Michael Mahoney’s name is fitting, given all that he contributed to the intellectual and institutional development of the history of computing. An historian of science of the old school, Mahoney earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and came to Princeton in 1962 to pursue a Ph.D. in the history of science, working under the direction of Thomas S. Kuhn. He never left Princeton, earning a place on the faculty in 1965 and remaining a core member of the history of science program for more than three decades. His field was the history of mathematics around the scientific revolution, most notably the book The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601-1665.

As a young man, Mahoney worked briefly as a programmer on a Datatron computer, and by the 1980s he had become one of the first trained historians to develop an interest in the history of computing. He developed several courses in the area, from a freshman seminar to demanding graduate level seminars on ‘Computers and Organisms’ and ‘The World of Software.’ Over time his research included software engineering, the history of theoretical computer science, and computer modeling and simulation (he found the concept of artificial life fascinating). Mahoney threw himself, and his students, deep into the technical literature and research culture of the fields he studied. Yet his background and fierce intellect ensured that he always grounded investigation of the recent events in a much longer intellectual history. Whatever the subject of his public lectures they were unlike to pass without reference to Newton, Huygens, or Descartes.

Mahoney helped to pioneer the history of computing and was deeply committed to its evolution as a field with its own scholarly agenda and identity. His much cited 1988 article “The History of Computing in the History of Technology” heralded an attempt to reshape the history of computing from a field dominated by the questions and interests of computer specialists into a mature area of study within the history of science and technology. More recently, his paper “The Histories of Computing(s)” (2005) challenged us to move beyond the machine-based master narrative implicit in existing histories of computing. At the same time, Mahoney put more effort than anyone into working with computer scientists and software engineers to further historical efforts within their communities. He provided excellent historical guidance to the three History of Programming Languages conferences organized by ACM SIGPLAN, collaborated on projects at Bell Labs, was a founding member of the ACM History Committee, and worked with the ACM SIG on Software Engineering in its attempts to determine the real world impact of software engineering research.

As part of his commitment to building the history of computing Mahoney helped to nurture SIGCIS during its formative years, participating in a number of our conference sessions and proposals, auctioning the books donated for our annual meeting, and serving on the committee that created the Computer History Museum Book Prize. A contribution to the Mahoney Fund will help preserve his memory and promote his mission.

Learn more in the book collecting Mahoney's work Histories of Computing (Harvard University Press, 2011) the Princeton University tribute page and on Mahoney’s own website which is full of papers and syllabi.

Mahoney Fund Supporters

Thanks to those who have already made contributions to the Mahoney Fund.

Mainframe Class (individual donations of $500 or more)

  • Ann Johnson (pledged annually 2008-12)
  • Thomas L. Drucker (2011, pledged annually 2013-16)
  • Leonard Shustek (2008 & 2013)
  • Angela Creager (2013 & 2014)
  • Thomas Haigh (2010)*
  • Joseph November (2013)
  • James W. Cortada (2013)
  • Theodore Dolotta (2009 & 2012)

Minicomputer Class (individual donations of $200 - $499)

  • Jonathan Coopersmith (pledged annually 2008-2012, 2013-2016)
  • Joseph November (pledged annually 2014-2016)
  • Richard T. Snodgrass (pledged annually, 2013-2016)
  • Wendy Vogenitz Tinsley (pledged anually 2009-2011, 2013-2016)
  • Thomas J. Misa (2011)
  • Daniel J. Feldman (2011, pledged annually 2013-2016)
  • Angela Creager (2010)
  • School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (2009)

Microcomputer Class (individual donations of $100 - $199)

  • Thomas J. Misa (pledged annually 2013-16)
  • Thomas Haigh (pledged annually 2008-2012, 2013-2016)
  • Andrew Russell (pledged annually 2013-2016)
  • Paul Ceruzzi (2013)
  • Richard T. Snodgrass (2008)
  • Chigusa Kita (2008)

Handheld Class (individual donations of $50-$99)

  • Dag Spicer (pledged annually 2009-2012)
  • Brent Jesiek (2010)
  • Erik P. Rau (2009)
  • Burton Grad (2008 & 2013)

* Haigh donated the honorarium he received for editing the Harvard University Press book Histories of Computing, a collection of Mahoney's work.