[SIGCIS-Members] Postwar radar operators, electronic screens, and gender

Bernard Geoghegan bernardgeoghegan2010 at u.northwestern.edu
Thu Apr 5 06:25:38 PDT 2018


Dear Members,

 

Does anyone happen to have any primary or secondary source references on the role of gender in defining the radar operator and other users of electronic interfaces/screens of the 1950s and 1960s? At first I thought that these devices and this work were conceived with male users in mind. Photographs and films of operators of SAGE-type systems mostly depict male soldiers. However, I’ve run across two popular articles from the mid 50s that seem to show women-identifying users working as radar operators. I wonder if they’re typical, if they reflect a broader diversity of “operators” of the emerging electronic interfaces of the period:

 

https://books.google.se/books?id=oN0DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=volscan+radar&source=bl&ots=VCDYA-8THX&sig=tTkxbof6EM5YSrARAEIJ-dnWMy4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiw9cy3m6PaAhXQZpoKHXsmAz4Q6AEILzAB#v=onepage&q=volscan%20radar&f=false

 

http://www.rfcafe.com/references/popular-electronics/radar-tames-wild-blue-yonder-popular-electronics-november-1956.htm

 

This being a key site where early theories of HCI and “man-computer symbiosis” are worked out, I’m trying to figure out what role gender—marked or unmarked—played in the design of particular kinds of interfaces, conceptions of certain kind of users. Thanks for any feedback you can offer.

 

Best, b

 

-- 

Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan

Senior Lecturer in the History and Theory of Digital Media

www.bernardg.com

 

Department of Digital Humanities

King's College London 

The Strand Building

Room S3.08

WC2R 2LS

 

Office: +44 (0)20 7848 4750

Cell:  +44 (0)75 7713 9098

 

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