[SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer

McMillan, William W william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu
Sat Mar 25 09:47:07 PDT 2017


Mary Shaw of Carnegie Mellon published an article in 1990 in IEEE Software that is an excellent discussion about the development of engineering from craft, production, science, and commerce.

I think it's relevant to this discussion.  Saying that Turing invented the (apparently misnamed) von Neumann architecture is a bit like saying that James Clerk Maxwell invented the telegraph.

Science usually precedes the formal and systematic application of science.  As craft develops in a parallel thread, commercial interests (or military interests?) and production lead to the joining of all these threads to produce true engineering.

There was a lot of craft and production in the development of computing before they merged with formal theory to form computer science.

Shaw's article: "Prospects for an Engineering Discipline of Software"
http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/52.60586

(An argument can be made that the development of Algol and structured programing is an exception.  I presented a paper on this at 4S in 2007.)

- Bill

________________________________________
From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of David Hemmendinger [hemmendd at union.edu]
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2017 3:16 PM
To: dcb at dcbrock.net
Cc: members at lists.sigcis.org
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] The latest inventor of the computer

>Would you (or someone else reading this) happen to have a good
>bibliography on the history of computer science -- such as it exists
>that could be shared with me (this list)?

I can recommend several articles on the (internalist) history
of formal languages, automata theory, and recursive functions. They
have further bibliographies that may be helpful. Parts of the articles
are somewhat technical.
The first three are from the Annals 3:1 (1981), special issue on
the theory of computing:

Sheila Greibach, Formal Languages: Origins and Directions, pp 14-41
Juris Hartmanis, Observations About the Development of Theoretical
Computer Science, pp 42-51
Stephen Kleene, Origins of Recursive Function Theory, pp 52-67.
Lance Fortnow & Steve Homer, A Short History of Computational Complexity,
Bulletin of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science,
2003; https://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~fortnow/papers/history.pdf .


David Hemmendinger hemmendd at union.edu
Professor Emeritus http://athena.union.edu/~hemmendd
Computer Science Dept. +1 518 346 4489
Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308 FAX: +1 518 388 6789
Associate Editor-in-chief, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
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