[SIGCIS-Members] Cybernetics & early computing history

Paul Edwards pne at umich.edu
Wed Nov 18 11:37:10 PST 2009

Pierre, you probably already know Slava Gerovitch's book From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, which partly covers the split between computer science and cybernetics in the USSR in the period you're working on.


On Nov 18, 2009, at 9:32 AM, Pierre Mounier wrote:

> Hello,
> 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  
> example.
> 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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