Mahoney Prize

The Mahoney Prize recognizes an outstanding article in the history of computing and information technology, broadly conceived. The Mahoney Prize commemorates the late Princeton scholar Michael S. Mahoney, whose profound contributions to the history of computing came from his many articles and book chapters. The prize consists of a $500 award and a certificate. For the 2022 prize, articles published in the preceding three years (2019, 2020, and 2021) are eligible for nomination. The Mahoney Prize is awarded by the Special Interest Group in Computers, Information, and Society (SIGCIS) and is presented during the annual meeting of our parent group, the Society for the History of Technology.

2022 Prize Winners:


Theodora Vardouli and David Theodore, “Walking Instead of Working: Space Allocation, Automatic Architecture, and the Abstraction of Hospital Labor,” in IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 6-17, 1 April-June 2021. Prize




The paper which is awarded the Mahoney Prize this year was published in 2021 in IEEE Annals of The History of Computing and co-authored by Theodora Vardouli and David Theodore from McGill University in Montréal. Vardouli is an Assistant Professor and Theodore is the Canada Research Chair in Architecture, Health, and Computation, both at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University, Montreal.


Their article investigates the relationship between computing and architecture by studying an algorithm that was used for floor layout design in postwar British hospitals. The algorithm, by Whitehead and Eldars, relied on string-diagram studies that described the pattern and volume of movement of people in a typical hospital. By studying this algorithm—the debates over, adaptation of, and use of Whitehead and Eldars’ approach—the authors situate the automation of hospital design at the intersection of building science and healthcare management. Of greatinterest is the fact that, through the topic of space allocation, Vardouli and Theodore aim to present “a parallel story in which researchers promoted the adoption of computers to manage hospital labor by intervening on the activities of the laborers through the hospital building itself: not through computer terminals, but through the architecture.” As they conclude, looking at the long-term consequences of computer technology for architecture: “matching activity patterns to spatial patterns as a method of designing architecture with computers persists.” Their historical study, which strongly benefits from their ability to conduct research at the nexus of design and computation, clearly contributes to a better understanding of the operational implications of algorithmic techniques, as well as showing the impact of computer technology on fields not often discussed in computer history.

2022 Mahoney Prize Committee:

Hyungsub Choi
School of Liberal Arts, Seoul National University of Science and Technology

Elizabeth Petrick
Department of History, Rice University

Valérie Schafer
Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg

Kevin Driscoll
Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia

Previous winners:

2021: Colette Perold, “IBM’s World Citizens: Valentim Bouças and the Politics of IT Expansion in Authoritarian Brazil,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 42, no. 3 (July-September 2020): 38-52.

2020: Oliver Belcher. “Sensing, Territory, Population: Computation, Embodied Sensors, and Hamlet Control in the Vietnam War,” Security Dialogue 50.5, (2019) 416-436.

2019: Nikhil Menon. "‘Fancy Calculating Machine’: Computers and planning in independent India." Modern Asian Studies 52, no. 2 (2018): 421-457.

2018: Joanna Radin. “Digital Natives: How Medical and Indigenous Histories Matter for Big Data.” Osiris Vol. 32, No. 1 (2017): 43-64

2017: Erica Robles-Anderson and Patrik Svensson, “’One Damn Slide After Another’: PowerPoint at Every Occasion for Speech.” Computational Culture (January 15, 2016). 

2016: Andrew L. Russell and Valérie Schafer, "In the Shadow of ARPANET and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s," Technology and Culture 55, no. 4 (October 2014): 880-907.

2015: David Nofre, Mark Priestley, and Gerard Alberts, "When Technology Became Language: The Origins of the Linguistic Conception of Computer Programming, 1950-1960," Technology and Culture 55 (January 2014): 40-75.