[SIGCIS-Members] Active institutional or individual oral history efforts in history of computing *outside* US

mariann unterluggauer mariann at nomatic.org
Wed Feb 7 09:20:39 PST 2018

as far as i am concerned, the situation at continental europe is scattered.

tech history classes as a central point of entry at the universities were shut down mostly in the 1990s.
for cybernetics, i am lucky to have the archive here in austria ie at the institute of contemporary history, who holds wonderful collections: heinz von foerster, gordon pask, glasersfeld, …including oral history.)

for informatics you need to dig more, also due to the fact that most european countries don't have a publication (who pays for articles) who accept tech history as a topic.

sure there are museums (mundaneum, computer museum paderborn, science museums everywhere, art institutes, ... yet there is seldom a oral history session done.
at universities it depends on students, do cover a specific topic, which ends mostly when the students leave university or finish a course, their master or phd. there is hardly a longterm interest or central collection point to be found. (i also recall that it wasn't that easy to keep the zemanek collection alive.)

there are a handful journalists who have been around long enough  that their coverage of computing becomes an historic source, but their work only can be found in private archives, sometimes it ends partly in printed publications or on radio, and: we don't follow academic rules.
(andreu vea btw did that.)

some work is done due to anniversaries, by interest groups, providers and companies, each covering history only within their own border.  (nation or company)

in kiev you can find a group of mathematicians, they worked hard over a year or so, including a lot of interviews to cover their history, but  - as it was a google project, five minutes survived in the end, and "nobody knows" about the whereabouts of the rest of the material. (maybe worth to dig)

do be honest, i am already glad do find conference proceedings from the early days (iiasa ifip, …), gain a glimpse about policy discussions in the history archives of the european union, for all the rest it simply means travelling and be lucky that the old chaps are still around - or their survivors can tell me where the material went …

btw. it was interesting some times to have the chance to confront people within europe with oral history quotes. that simple re-check gave me a different picture - and dare i say it - some where shocked who has told what about them. personally that made me wondering what we really know.

all the best,

On 06 Feb 2018, at 16:58, David C. Brock <dbrock at computerhistory.org> wrote:

> I would like to get a better sense of which institutions or individuals are actively creating oral histories in the history of computing, broadly conceived, *outside* of the US.
> I’m posting the question here because I’d bet others would like to know as well.
> Thanks in advance for your help.
> Best wishes,
> David
> ..............
> David C. Brock
> Director
> Center for Software History [http://www.computerhistory.org/softwarehistory/]
> Computer History Museum [http://www.computerhistory.org/]
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