[SIGCIS-Members] Request for biographies

Deborah Douglas ddouglas at mit.edu
Fri Sep 4 06:19:54 PDT 2020


I don’t want to pester other list members with non-computer work:

James Hansen did a collaborative project with Allan McDonald, Truth, Lies, and O-Rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster” that you should take a look at.  Hansen’s work is definitely worth looking at.  Early in his career, along with his history of NASA Langely, he wrote a biography of Fred Weick, inventor of the tricycle landing gear (From the Ground Up), that more than anything else is the reason Neil Armstrong agreed to Hansen being his biographer.  He has written shorter monographs on other engineers such as John Houbolt and his chapter on Richard Whitcomb in Engineer in Charge offer some really good examples of introducing technical subjects to a lay audience.  Some of these books (eg: Engineer in Charge) are available for free online through the NASA History Office.


Debbie Douglas

On Sep 4, 2020, at 9:06 AM, Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk<mailto:Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>> wrote:

Dear all,

Very many thanks to everyone who has sent suggestions, I’ve got a great reading list! I’ve already had a look at a few of them, and there’s some high quality work indeed. The only further question I would have is whether there are biographies with a higher technical content? Perhaps that just isn’t common in biographies?


Troy Astarte

School of Computing
Newcastle University

On 3 Sep 2020, at 12:31, Troy Astarte <Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk<mailto:Troy.Astarte at newcastle.ac.uk>> wrote:


What is your favourite biography of a scientist or mathematician? I’m particularly interested in modern subjects and those who worked in computing/computer science. Ideally the book would cover the subject’s work in a reasonable level of technical detail as well as their life and the broader context in which they lived and worked.

I ask because I am considering applying for funding for an essentially biographical project on a computer scientist and I would like to read some (more) biographies first.


Troy Astarte

School of Computing
Newcastle University

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Deborah G. Douglas, PhD • Director of Collections and Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum; Research Associate, Program in Science, Technology, and Society • Room N51-209 • 265 Massachusetts Avenue • Cambridge, MA 02139-4307 • ddouglas at mit.edu<mailto:ddouglas at mit.edu> • 617-253-1766 telephone • 617-253-8994 facsimile • http://mitmuseum.mit.edu • she/her/hers

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