[SIGCIS-Members] Importance of history to practitioners

Len Shustek len at shustek.com
Thu Nov 10 19:46:51 PST 2016


At 09:59 AM 11/10/2016, McMillan, William W wrote:
>I thought you might like to hear the following.  In a meeting with a 
>small software company in Ann Arbor that emphasizes user-centered, 
>agile development, a colleague and I asked what subjects should be 
>included in an academic program in interaction design.  The firm's 
>chief designer, who also has a programming background, said that the 
>most important course would be history of computing!


Even better would be to have the history of computing embedded in 
academic computing programs. Physicists learn about Newton, and 
chemists learn about Lavoisier, so why shouldn't computer scientists 
learn about Babbage, Turing, and Von Neumann?

My frustration teaching computer architecture at Stanford in the 
mid-1990s with a required syllabus that avoided history led me to 
start a museum nearby, because I knew I wouldn't be able change the 
curriculum. If you are interested in the story of how that happened, see
http://s3data.computerhistory.org/atchm/documents/Personal_Reflections_on_the_History_of_the_Computer_History_Museum_09-26-14.pdf
which is referenced in my blog article on the Computer History 
Museum's 35th [sic] anniversary.
http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/computer-history-museum-celebrating-35-years/

-- Len 



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