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"Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it": or, Why I study the history of computing

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1 Author(s)
Lee, J.A.N. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Virginia Polytech. Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA, USA

The year 1996 marks the 50th anniversary of the public revelation of the ENIAC, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Large Scale Computing Subcommittee of the AIEE under the chairmanship of Charles Concordia, and the beginning of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the IEEE Computer Society and the ACM. Within those years, the computer field has not only developed but has had added to it new concepts and ideas that have transmogrified it into an almost unrecognizable entity. We are reaching the stage of development where each new generation of participants is unaware both of their overall technological ancestry and the history of the development of their specialty, and have no past to build upon. In this article, we look at the study of the history of computing and its applicability to today's technological challenges, and conclude with the recommendation that we need to know enough about our history to protect ourselves from it and not be condemned to repeat it, but also to use it to our advantage.

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:18 ,  Issue: 2 )