[SIGCIS-Members] history of history of computing courses

McMillan, William W william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu
Mon Jan 29 11:03:51 PST 2018


About the mid-1990s, we put a course in the history of computing into the catalog at Eastern Michigan University.  It was defined as a regular course, not special topics or the like (though it was deleted in later years).

This might have been somewhat unusual since we were a computer science department, not history, STS, or similar.  It was taught perhaps a couple times.

The course was proposed and taught by our department head George Haynam (who as a grad student was asked to introduce a sharp young fellow named Don Knuth to the IBM 650 at Case Tech).

I remember the course as innovator-centric rather than technology-centric.  I'll see if I have any relevant files squirreled away on dusty disks.

- Bill

________________________________________
From: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] on behalf of John Impagliazzo [John.Impagliazzo at Hofstra.edu]
Sent: Monday, January 29, 2018 12:30 PM
To: members at sigcis.org
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] history of history of computing courses

I am not sure whether Brian Randell is on this listserv, but he has been involved with computing history since the early 1970s.
See http://homepages.cs.ncl.ac.uk/brian.randell/History/
My guess is that Brian has likely taught a history course or history seminars at Newcastle back then. Perhaps someone would like to reach out to him. <brian.randell at ncl.ac.uk>

John Impagliazzo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Hofstra University
IEEE Fellow and Life Member
ACM Distinguished Educator


-----Original Message-----
From: Members [mailto:members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] On Behalf Of Brian L. Stuart
Sent: Monday, 29 January, 2018 12:14
To: members at sigcis.org; Janet Abbate <abbate at vt.edu>
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] history of history of computing courses

I can speak to the Rhodes College course since that one was mine.  We only ran it once, but I thought it was a lot of fun.
I can probably find my old syllabus if it would help, but there wasn't a huge amount of detail in it.  Like the Purdue course I mentioned in another message, I used Williams book as my primary text.

More recently, I've run a similar course here at Drexel University.
I'm hoping to eventually make that one a regular offering.

In both cases, the the primary focus was on the hardware, architecture, and similar technical factors.  Software got about 10-20% of the time, and a similar amount of time was devoted to the development of theory.  The cultural/ societal aspects only really appeared in the context of my lectures as background to the technical developments.  For the more recent version, the assignments that I found the most fun to assign were writing a little bit of PDP-8 machine code (and I let them run it on an 8/M I've restored), "writing"
a simple task on the ENIAC which they ran on my simulator, and writing a simulator for some early machine, with the Manchester Baby probably being the most popular choice.

BLS


--------------------------------------------
On Mon, 1/29/18, Janet Abbate <abbate at vt.edu> wrote:

 Also, he has a website last updated in 1998 (https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http:%2F%2Fei.cs.vt.edu%2F~history%2Fcourses.html&data=02%7C01%7Cjohn.impagliazzo%40hofstra.edu%7C175d0175705849678c9008d5673bb65d%7Ce32fc43d7c6246d9b49fcd53ba8d9424%7C0%7C1%7C636528428515677129&sdata=ywE8IyxnqptwwlR6tAA5wNRkCzv2Mkdn8CKcOH8uuoE%3D&reserved=0)
 that lists these courses at various universities:
 - University of Warwick CS330: History of Computing
 - University of Calgary, CPSC 509
 - American University, CSIS 64.550 History of Computing
 - Stanford University STS 161 -- History of Computers.
 - Virginia Tech, CS 3604 Professionalism in Computing (contains a  section on history).  [J.A.N.’s own course]
- Rhodes  College, CS 465: Topics in Computer Science Computer  History _______________________________________________
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