[SIGCIS-Members] figures hidden in a new book on Dutch pioneers
G.Alberts at uva.nl
Tue Feb 28 17:54:55 PST 2017
my new book, co-authored with Bas van Vlijmen, is in Dutch: Computerpioniers. Het begin van het computertijdperk in Nederland.
An issue which easily crosses the language barrier, however, is portraying Dutch "hidden figures". The local women computers called themselves "Van Wijngaarden's girls" as they had been recruited and taught to become expert computers by Aad van Wijngaarden, head of the Mathematical Center's computing department from 1947. The nickname sounds just as ill-placed in Dutch as in English, politically incorrect if you want, but was explained to me when I heard it first-hand in the 1980s, i.e. 30 years after date, as an expression of mutual pride.
We are offering the first copy of the book to the lady who was in the newspaper with the ARRA computer 1952 and who is again on the cover of our book.
An other key figure is Willem van der Poel, known for his microprogramming and "simple" computers like the ZEBRA.
Here is the announcement in English
and in Dutch
The book covers the 1950s in The Netherlands. It follows the style of culturally contextualised histories of computers, automation and their users. For example, we make an issue of what it implies that these early actors were considered "pioneers". On the other hand we follow the example of Haigh, Priestley and Rope in sorting out how such early automatic calculators were handled and -in as far as that word is appropriate- programmed.
Kind regards, Gerard Alberts
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