[SIGCIS-Members] Annals, issue 2022-4

Pierre Mounier-Kuhn mounier at msh-paris.fr
Fri Dec 9 04:10:26 PST 2022

Dear Richard, dear friends & colleagues, 

Indeed "automation" was a heated debate in the US, Germany and Europe in the 1950s. We have good examples in Britain, with the DSIR's report on " Automation, technical trends and their impact on management and labour " (1956) and in France with the Conseil économique report (1956-1958) on " L’automation et ses conséquences économiques et sociales ". Perhaps not so brief a debate, as it continued under various forms in the following decades – for example in the late 1970s when a French report predicted that computers would entail vast manpower layouts in the banking sector, which would fire workers just like the coal mines recently had. 
Isn't there a misspell when you write that, "in the 1950s, there were perhaps two computers in industry and administration in Germany, and perhaps ten in the United States"?. W 
Finally, whether the computer was really a productivity machine in the 1950s is debatable (cf. the "productivity paradox"), but it was definitely marketed as such, and assessed in the same view by major clients such as banks (banks' expert reports on the acquisition og big computers were quite assertive on this issue, from the archives I've seen at BNP Paribas). 

All the best, 
Pierre Mounier-Kuhn 

De: "members" <members at lists.sigcis.org> 
À: "members" <members at lists.sigcis.org> 
Envoyé: Jeudi 8 Décembre 2022 16:31:44 
Objet: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Annals, issue 2022-4 

Thank you, David Hemmendinger, for drawing attention to the issue 4 of Annals 2022 and making it available to us. I have looked at the review of the book by Corinna Schlombs Productivity Machines: German Appropriations of American Technology from Mass production to Computer Automation, and I am not entirely convinced. Automation was only a brief but heated debate in the US, Germany and Europe in the 1950s. But computer use in industrial production and administration came later. In the 1950s, there were perhaps two computers in industry and administration in Germany, and perhaps ten in the United States. In this respect, it seems exaggerated to speak of the computer as a productivity machine in the 1950s. It is true that productivity was the buzzword in the Americans' Marshall Plan. But Germany did not need any advice on this, since German industry was producing at a very high level as a result of weapons production in WW2. What today is largely redeemed as automatic production with the use of computers in industry was merely a debate in the 1950s. It is typical of Norbert Wiener who took part in it. But he contributed nothing to the development of the computer. The rationalization debate in the 1920s and the automation debate in the 1950s have been addressed in Germany by many publications by historians, as has the Taylorism debate. Where Corinna Schlombs' book perhaps overestimates U.S. leadership is in the office machinery sector. Germany had a quite competitive industry in office machines, as I have shown in my book "The First Informationexplosion". 
All the best Richard 

Prof. Dr. Richard Vahrenkamp 
Logistik Consulting Berlin 
Phone 0177- 628 3325 
E-Mail: Vahrenkamp2 at gmx.de 
Web: www.vahrenkamp.org 
Heubnerweg 11, 14059 Berlin 
Mittwoch, 07 Dezember 2022, 05:31PM +01:00 von Hemmendinger, David via Members [ mailto:members at lists.sigcis.org | members at lists.sigcis.org ] : 

SIGCIS members, 
The special issue of Annals of the History of Computing on information technology and demography is now on line at the CSDL and IEEE Xplore: 
[ http://www.computer.org/csdl/magazine/an/2022/04 | www.computer.org/csdl/magazine/an/2022/04 ] 
[ http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue.jsp?punumber=85 | ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/mostRecentIssue.jsp?punumber=85 ] 


Introduction: The IT of Demography, Emily Klancher Merchant, Myron P. Gutmann 

The Present of the Past: A Sociotechnological Framework for Understanding the Availability of Research Materials, Rebecca Jean Emigh, Johanna Hernández-Pérez 

Computing Counterinsurgency: The Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) and Databasing During the Vietnam War, Moritz J. Feichtinger 

When the New Magic was New: The Claritas Corporation and the Clustering of America, Fenwick McKelvey 

The Missing Link: Data Capture Technology and the Making of a Longitudinal U.S. Census Infrastructure, Katie R. Genadek, J. Trent Alexander 

Anecdotes department: 
The Effects of Increases in Computing Power on Demographic Analysis Over the Last 50 Years, Barbara A. Anderson 

Challenges of Large-Scale Data Processing in the 1990s: The IPUMS Experience, Diana L. Magnuson, Steven Ruggles 

Book review department: 
Review of Corinna Schlombs' Productivity Machines: German Appropriations of American Technology From Mass Production to Computer Automation, Devin Kennedy 

Events & sightings department: 
A New Book About the First Business Computer, Hilary Caminer, Secretary, LEO Computers Society 

David Hemmendinger, EIC 

This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org 
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/attachments/20221209/d6abec4d/attachment.htm>

More information about the Members mailing list