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History of Computing

History of Computing
Contributors (1)
Apr 02, 2019

History of Computing can be seen as a necessary foundation in order to understand the discipline. Knowing the historical roots helps students make sense of the discourse around current trends and issues. We emphasise the history of thought, as outlined for example in the works of informatics historian Jörg Pflüger (Pflüger 2004a; Pflüger 2004b) over the history of technologies or personalities.

Aspects of the history of computing are introduced into the other chapters whenever it makes sense. When talking about programming, a short detour shows the changes in what kind of work programming was meant to be, and how this idea changed over time; when we discuss intellectual property, an excursion into the history of the open source movement seems appropriate; when talking about ethics, it makes sense to recap the history of moral philosophy. Sometimes, a short historical view helps better understand a best/worst of informatics entry.

Overall, we usually visit around ten different aspects of the history of informatics. While this cross-sectoral topic is not an explicit emphasis of the course, we try to convey the idea that understanding where ideas come from often helps to see why things are what they are and where they could be going.

Calls for discussion

  • Where do you think we could improve this chapter? Are we missing essential bits?

  • Which parts of the history of informatics do you find especially relevant for this lecture?


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