[SIGCIS-Members] Cybernetics & early computing history

Pierre Mounier mounier at msh-paris.fr
Wed Nov 18 06:32:04 PST 2009


I am doing a limited study on Cybernetics & early computing history,  
within the French context.… In brief, there was a cybernetics craze in  
the late 1940s-early 1950s, then a decided separation beginning in the  
mid-1950s, obvious in the first international conference on Automatic  
Control (CNAM, 1956) and in several books on information processing,  
which clearly excluded "Cybernetics" from the field. The remaining  
interface between them, artificial intelligence, was not well  
considered itself by many computer scientists, particularly within the  
Schützenberger group of theoretical computer science.

The interest for cybernetics culminated with the CNRS international  
conference on "Les Machines à Calculer & la Pensée humaine" in 1951,  
which was organized in three sessions :
- Calculating machines
- Calculating methods
- Analogies with human thought.

Does anyone know if other computing conferences included a similar  
session on typically "cybernetic" topics? To my knowledge, it was not  
the case of the conference organized at Cambridge by M. W. Wilkes, for  

Next question, did anyone of you study the separation process between  
computing and "cybernetics"?

Thanks in advance.

Pierre-E. Mounier-Kuhn
CNRS & Université Paris-Sorbonne
28 rue Serpente, 75006 Paris

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