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The ABC's of BBN: from acoustics to behavioral sciences to computers

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1 Author(s)
J. A. Swets ; Harvard Med. Sch., Boston, MA, USA

The discipline of psychology, and specifically the concept of man-machine integration, served to organize computer research and development at BBN. This article gives a unifying perspective on the history of computer research and development at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. (BBN). It suggests that the firm's original focus on A (acoustics) led to its work in B (behavioral sciences, principally psychology), which in turn led to C (its computer activities) $the three areas then coexisting. In particular, this article suggests that psychological concepts have shaped the company's work on computers from the beginning. The BBN principals desired a larger range of psychoacoustics and a contribution from psychologists (behavioral scientists) and to establish an activity in man-machine integration, as a central thrust in the area of human factors of engineering psychology.

Published in:

IEEE Annals of the History of Computing  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 2 )