Researching the History
of Software: Mining Internet Resources in the Old World,
New World, and the Wild West
University of Minnesota
Philip L. Frana
Charles Babbage Institute
13 September 2002
II. Old World and New
III. The Wild West
IV. Treasures and Tribulations
is a madness put to good uses.
So wrote the
great philosopher and poet Jorge Augustín Nicolás
Ruiz de Santayana in his essay "The Elements and Function
Without doubt, the advent of the early Web unleashed a mania,
an unreasonable recklessness that to this day resists being
swept back under the rug. How can we tease "sanity"
out of the Web? Can the historian put this madness to good use?
When the World Wide Web made its debut in the early 1990s,
it resembled a pageant that only a parent could love. The
Internet Movie Database, the WebCrawler search engine, the
Web cam of an isolated unbent spoon and its associated challenge
to the telekinetic Uri Gellerthose were "reliable"
sites. Indeed, the most useful sites looked suspiciously like
they had been ripped from Internet Gopher menus. Even Jerry's
Guide to the World Wide Web (later rechristened "Yahoo!")
could not be judged an entirely trustworthy directory in those
days. [end of page 1]
Already it is difficult to remember a time when banner advertising
could be used as a legitimate navigational tool, when sessions
running a Mosaic browser with its (usually slowly) pulsing upper
right-hand image of Earth and two orbiting planetoids seemed
interminable, and where alternatives to the hand-coding of new
Web pages did not exist.
The Web is still widely criticized as an unreliable source
of information, but epithets like "Weird Wide Web"
and "Cyberia" are hurled at it with much less frequency
today. We manage our (dwindling) portfolios online today, stock
our libraries with the help of Amazon, and download crucial
virus updates to keep the whole system working properly. The
Web today gives as good as it takes with its skewering online
parodies of presidential aspirations, ICANN battles, and Microsoft
heavies. In part, this change of heart reflects the increasing
acceptability of the Internet as a communications medium. In
equal measure, the thawing of opinion precipitates from our
reevaluation of the Web as a promising marketing tool. After
all, people get serious where money is at stake.
Even the scholarly community has reevaluated the Web's potential.
Professors distribute course assignments and drafts of their
latest papers and presentations from personal home pages. Online
editions of The New York Times, The Washington Post,
and the OED have wormed their way into the daily ritual alongside
the morning cup of coffee and the afternoon walk to seminar.
Email is checked with more regularity than the mailbox down
Today, an array of online bibliographic databases like RLG-Eureka's
History of Science and Technology, OCLC-FirstSearch's EconLit,
America: History and Life and others have supplanted traditional
journal indices. Catalogs such as OCLC-FirstSearch's WorldCat
and Chadwyck-Healey Inc.'s ArchivesUSA allow researchers more
options in accessing resources in libraries and archives.
While sources like these have long been available "pre-Web,"
the Web has made them much easier to use. Recently the bibliographic
power of the Web has increased immeasurably with the growth
in "full-text" databases, which reproduce articles
from many journals, and university faculty and staff rave
about the speedy new services for electronic document delivery
of their interlibrary loan requests. Certainly, the Web has
become more than a matter of convenience for scholarsit
is an indispensable tool for teaching and research.
But the Web is becoming even more than a tool for finding book
and article citations and tracking down archival collectionsit
is also becoming a source for digitized versions of a wide
array of materials valuable to historians. In this review
we explore the New World of sources in the history of software
available on the Web, and attempt to provide a map, or at
least a series of guideposts, for this digital landscape.
In the first part we will look at sources that parallel or
bear a strong resemblance to the kinds of sources traditionally
available in the "Old World" of archives and libraries.
In the second part we will discuss sources from the more obscure
corners of the Web, with little resemblance to traditional
sources, and no traditional mechanisms for use by historians.
[end of page 2] All of the sources cited here are freely available
on the Web, with the exception of some important resources
available at the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM)
World and New
Archives, libraries, and many other institutions are readily
finding a place on the Internet, publishing a cornucopia of
documents on the Web, and providing easy access for researchers.
The Library of Congress provides a model for other institutions
to emulate with its American Memory Web site, which makes
available online over seven million printed texts, manuscripts,
maps, moving and still images, and sound recordings from its
historical collections. Other institutions are following suit,
and researchers willing to blaze a path through the digital
world in search of source material will find a wealth of company
profiles, oral histories interviews, archival material,
computer- and computer-related institutions, computer science
history conferences, and various other important documents.
For historians, this is familiar territorymost of these
documents parallel the kinds of sources found in the old "Paper
World," the traditional realm for historical research.
Corporate Web sites
Corporate reports are an easy-to-find resource on the Web.
The Yahoo Finance Research Center includes links to a number
of companies' annual reports, financial statements, historical
stock prices, and corporate profiles.
Many companies include corporate reports and financial information
on their Web sites, but often such material covers only the
past few years. Corporate sites are worth a check, though, because
they sometimes contain useful information. For example, Computer
Associates International has included a financial history page
with information on stock splits, dividend payout and financial
performance since the inception of the company. Perhaps, with
their historic record of financial success,
CAI's decision-makers are more comfortable making the company's long-term
financial track record easily accessible to all who might be
Company profiles should be approached with the most incredulity,
as professional standards for objectivity do not usually apply.
Corporate sites often include company histories or timelines,
and while they may be helpful, they are often directed at
potential shareholders or school-children, and not professional
historians. The Adobe Corporate Backgrounder is typical of
the kind of company history available from software firms.
The site craftily makes mention of current revenues
("exceeding $1 billion") and its NASDAQ ticker symbol
(ADBE) in nearly the same breath. But the site is more interesting
in its presentation of corporate "mission, values, and
beliefs." From the promotional copy it is clear that
Adobe is interested in maximizing earnings per share, thrives
on cost-effectiveness, treats its employees well and pampers
the best of them, and flourishes under the banner of truth
because "life is too short to be ashamed of anything
we do." [end of page 3] No doubt there is subtext to
be mined here.
One of the most unabashed company history sites is the so-called
"Microsoft Museum." This Museum is dedicated to promoting
and extending the unwritten Microsoft myth: "We are the
software industry." Microsoft marked its twenty-fifth anniversary
in 2000, and the Museum site still includes information regarding
that event. The site includes a multimedia Microsoft timeline,
access to the PressPass portal for Microsoft news releases,
and teaser copy from Inside Out: MicrosoftIn Our Own
It also includes a downloadable "student packet."
Perhaps the most heartfelt memento here is Bill Gates' admonition
to students to stay in school, even though he himself left prematurely:
It's true that I dropped out of college to
start Microsoft, but I was at Harvard for three years before
dropping outand I'd love to have the time to go back.
. . . Nobody should drop out of college unless they believe
they face the opportunity of a lifetime. And even then they
One valuable collection is the online cache of archival materials
supplied by the IBM Archives.
While the proportion of available documents and multimedia files
to extant material in the private IBM vaults is extraordinarily
small, the collection is growing quickly. IBM has done a great
service to historians by making these primary documents easily
available, allowing scholars to penetrate beyond the PR façade
that most corporate histories present.
A few high-tech companies, including the microprocessor manufacturer
Intel, have seen value in carefully recording the experiences
of their prized employees, both past and present. In software
history, Sun Microsystems has collected the reminiscences of
critical employees who helped develop Java.
The finished product, an early history by freelance writer Jon
Byous, recounts the false start of the top-secret "Green
Team," the prototype "WebRunner" browser competitor
to NCSA Mosaic, as well as early Java code development. The
most amusing aspect of this site is that Java's history is handled
with more retrospection on its third anniversary than most technologies
get on their thirtieth. It is impossible to miss just how transfixed
society and business were by the software business revolution
when this site appeared. But then, measured in Internet time,
three years is a veritable geological epoch.
For some time Evans & Sutherland, a pioneering computer
graphics firm, hosted an extensive company history site that
challenged the traditional one-page plus timeline model. This
site ran to fifteen single-spaced pages and included discussion
and streaming video presentations of the professional lives
of the cofounders David Evans and Ivan Sutherland, product development,
marketing, collaborations, and reorganizations. It was a surprisingly
frank, open accounting of a private, then public, firm. But
it is gone now. The original text is not difficult to find on
unauthorized sites elsewhere. We recovered the page complete
with original HTML formatting from a university site in the
People's Republic of China. [end of page 4]
Online Archives and Libraries
A number of professionally administered oral histories are
available on the Web. Several software specific oral historieswith
Edward Feigenbaum, Donald Chamberlin, and Fernando Corbató,
for examplemay be found on the Charles Babbage Institute's
CBI holds one of the world's largest collections of research-grade
oral history interviews relating to the history of computers,
software, and networking. Most of the 300-plus oral histories
have been developed in conjunction with grant-funded research
projects on topics such as the development of software and
the software industry, Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) funded computer research, and the early history
of computer science departments. Approximately 270 of the
total CBI oral history collection housed at the Institute
are available in full-text form online. Finding aids to many
more oral histories are found on a Smithsonian site: The Jerome
and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and
Innovation hosts the complete finding aid to its Computer
Oral History Collection in the National Museum of American
A number of transcribed interviews conducted with software's
pioneers form a subset of these public efforts to enrich our
understanding of American acumen and ingenuity in the computer
A number of less formal "interview" sites may also
be accessed. ACM's relatively new online magazine Ubiquity
houses interviews with Peter Denning, Gordon Bell, Bill Joy,
and William Wulf.
Wired also archives its collection of stories and interviews
with the so-called "Wired 52."
Marc Andreessen, member of the Wired 52, is honored with "The
Marc Andreessen Interview Page" which includes the transcript
of a session with independent journalist Thom Stark.
More traditional oral history accounts supplemented by streaming
video are available at Silicon Genesis, part of the Stanford
Silicon Valley project directed by Henry Lowood, curator of
History of Science and Technology Collections at Stanford.
Most of the oral histories are with early semiconductor developers,
but the site also hosts an oral history taken with Shawn and
Kim Hailey of Meta Software.
Traditional archival material relevant to the study of software's
past is also available online. Here, the bounty is truly astonishing.
Several caches of papers relate to the lives of individual computer
scientists. The Allen Newell and Herbert Simon collections found
at the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries Web site include
thousands of digitized pages drawn from the papers of these
two artificial intelligence pioneers.
(A review by Corinna Schlombs of the Allen Newell archive site
is found in this issue of Iterations.) The EWD Archive
accompanies a Festschrift site dedicated to Edsger W. Dijkstra
of the University of Texas, Austin, and contains digitized versions
of over one thousand manuscripts written by this programmer
and software engineer.
[end of page 5] The Joshua Lederberg Papers online repository
at the National Library of Medicine contains work done not only
in molecular biology, but also in service to his interest in
The Turing Digital Archive maintained by King's College Cambridge
is likewise of research value.
A number of more specialized archival collections are also
available to software history researchers. The Computer Security
Resource Center at the National Institute of Standards and Technology
hosts an extensive archive of early computer security papers,
which may be read as portable document files (pdf).
Perhaps no archival site, however, is as quirky as the video
game documentation in the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in
the History of Microcomputing at Stanford University.
Where else can you read the complete text of the documentation
accompanying the Alien videogame for the Commodore computer?
Other documents from the Cabrinety collection, along with student
papers on gaming history, are available through the How They
Got Game Web site, a project led by Henry Lowood and funded
by the Stanford Humanities Laboratory.
A phenomenon made possible by the Web is the creation of "virtual
archives"digitized collections bringing together
documents from archival repositories throughout the world.
One such archive is the Turing Archive for the History of
Computing, maintained by two philosophy professors at the
University of Canterbury, New Zealand.
The site includes a catalogued collection of documents related
to Turing and his work and a number of reference articles
by one of the site's proprietors, Jack Copland. This collection
makes clear both the promise and the problems inherent with
this kind of venue. Creators of virtual archives have the
freedom to create handpicked online collections that focus
on any topic, though in principle they should select only
items that are free of copyright or for which proper permission
has been obtained from the archives holding the original items.
Freeing scholars from the need to travel hundreds or thousands
of miles only to deal with limited hours and gaps in materials,
the potential rewards to be derived from these virtual archives
is an exciting development indeed. But the very personal and
selective nature of these collections is a drawback. Researchers
have always needed a certain amount of trust in archivists'
familiarity with their collections, but the virtual archive
raises this to a new level: without having on hand an entire
box of correspondence available to sift, for example, a researcher
has no way of knowing whether all relevant items from a collection
have been included at the virtual archive site. At this point
in their development, "virtual archives" might be
more appropriately used by students learning to work with archival
materials or by professional historians as a supplement to work
in traditional archives. They may also prove useful by providing
access to materials from institutions or companies with only
a small collection of documents, or for those without the resources
or facilities to make them easily available to historians in
their original format. [end of page 6]
Digitized libraries of published material are also finding
their way onto the Web. No search for relevant Internet sources
would be complete without a search of past and present Association
of Computing Machinery publications in the ACM Digital Library.
The online Library by its own reckoning contains 54,000 articles
from thirty journals and nine hundred separate proceedings of
the Association for Computing Machinery. The Digital Library,
which entered service during the summer of 1997, is meant to
substitute for subscriptions to online ACM publications. ACM,
along with NCSTRL (the Networked Computer Science Technical
Reference Library), the AAAI (American Association for Artificial
Intelligence), and the arXiv.org e-Print archive sponsors the
Computing Research Repository (CoRR).
CoRR is one of several "automated archives for electronic
communication of research information" that has derived
considerable support from the Los Alamos National Laboratory,
Cornell University, and National Science Foundation grants.
Many more computer science papers distributed across the Internet
are found on the main NCSTRAL (pronounced "ancestral")
Researchers should not discount the potential of the Web as
a continuous document delivery service. A large number of documents
relevant to an understanding of the software industry are now
finding their way online. Documents of interest to the enterprising
historian include 1963 memos concerning TJ-2, an early word
processing program (born on a Digital PDP-1 at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology);
the original proposal for the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee,
then of CERN;
and the IIT Research Institute's Draft Report of the Carnivore
System presented to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A number of computer-related institutions are also building
resources for historical study. These may be roughly divided
into two groups: institutions primarily motivated to service
the computer science and computer business communities, and
those with a direct interest in preserving and extending the
history of those communities. Of the former are the ACM special
interest groups (SIGs), which have many features that are of
value to historians, including bibliographic search tools. Among
SIGs of particular interest in studying the history of software
are SIGACT (algorithms and computation theory), SIGGRAPH (computer
graphics and interactive techniques), SIGMOD (management of
data), SIGOPS (operating systems), and SIGPLAN (programming
One bibliography that deserves special acknowledgement is SIGGRAPH's
Computer Science (formerly DBLP, for Database Systems and Logic
Programming) Bibliography maintained by Michael Ley at the University
The presentation of references in reverse chronological order,
divided by author is useful. Also helpful is the utility that
collects and presents current information on the whereabouts
of the home pages of 38,000 computer scientists. [end of page
Many other special interest groups engage specifically in the
history of software and networking. For example the Unix Heritage
Society archives many documents related to the development and
use of this operating system.
Here one can link to varying interpretations of Dennis Ritchie's
famous comment nestled within the Unix source code:
* Switch to stack of the new process and set up
* his segmentation registers.
* If the new process paused because it was
* swapped out, set the stack level to the last call
* to savu(u_ssav). This means that the return
* which is executed immediately after the call to aretu
* actually returns from the last routine which did
* the savu.
* You are not expected to understand this.
The Society also provides access to the old versions of Unix
code through the Unix Tree and maintains a Unix Heritage Society
mailing list. The Internet Society (ISOC), by contrast, is a
hybrid concerned with both the past and future of the Internet.
ISOC supports some of the most detailed timelines of the history
of computer networking, and presents several narratives on the
birth of the Internet from the perspective of Vinton Cerf, Robert
Kahn, Jon Postel, Lawrence Roberts, and Tim Berners-Lee.
Computer science history conferences give insights into the
kinds and currency of papers presented by historians and computer
scientists. Several online conference sites are still available
for viewing, even many years after the meetings convened. The
Dagstuhl Conference on the History of Software Engineering is
one such example.
In August 1996 historians and computer scientists met at Schloß
Dagstuhl, Germany, to examine the history of software engineering,
structured analysis, structured programming, and systems analysis.
The outcome remains available as a set of twenty-two papers
relevant to the history of this important movement by scholars
such as William Aspray, Tim Bergin, Martin Campbell-Kelly, Paul
Ceruzzi, Donald Mackenzie, Michael Mahoney, David Parnas, Mary
Shaw, and James Tomayko. Other conferences of interest include
the Vannevar Bush Symposium sponsored by the MIT Department
of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in October 1995,
and From Sumer to Spreadsheets held by the British Society for
the History of Mathematics at Kellogg College Oxford, in September
Computer science departments themselves are making concerted
efforts to record their history. One of the most extensive such
efforts is being taken by the MIT Laboratory of Computer Science
(formerly Project MAC). [end of page 8] The history of the department
is admirably documented in a linked timeline of milestones with
references to important papers on CTSS, Eliza, Logo, Macsyma,
RSA, and several computer graphics projects. The site also includes
the complete copy from chapter one of Simson Garfinkel's Architects
of the Information Society: Thirty-Five Years of the Laboratory
for Computer Science at MIT (MIT Press, 1999).
Another fine site documents the history of scientific computing
at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Most compelling are
the oral histories collected by insider George A. Michael and
others documenting the development of the Computation Department
at LLNL between 1950 and 1975.
No less than forty histories are available at Michael's site.
A different but no less gainful approach to collecting an institutional
history of computer science is taken by the National Science
Foundation. The NSF has established a site devoted to documenting
projects it supported in the past. The site takes the form of
a searchable database of ten thousand descriptions of projects
that relied at least in part on NSF supercomputing center resources.
The reports themselves, notes the introductory copy, "range
from astronomy to zoology, and include scientific breakthroughs
on black holes, how the heart works, pollution control, and
modeling the oceans."
Bibliographies and Reference Works
One Old World transplant spreading rapidly in the New World
of cyberspace that was not disseminated as widely as it should
have been in the Old World is the syllabus. Traditionally,
teachers (and administrators) have thought of syllabi as proprietary
tools. Students got the syllabus only after they had enrolled
in the class. While students may focus primarily on the grading
section, syllabi represent an extraordinary amount of work
on the part of the instructor, and ideally reflect acquired
skills and deep education costing tens-of-thousands of dollars
and countless hours of study and practice.
In this context, the decision by MIT last year to make freely
available all course syllabi under the OpenCourseWare project
may be interpreted as a remarkable sea-change in attitude towards
the dissemination of education resources. MIT expects no less
a goal than to "provide the content that supports an MIT
But well before this decision was rendered, the Web had become
an easy medium for the surprisingly free exchange of syllabi.
Perhaps in part this reflects a new attitude toward syllabi
as a negotiation between mentors and students rather than as
a script writ in stone.
In the history of software, a number of syllabi are available
online. Princeton University historian of science Michael Mahoney,
for instance, makes available his syllabi on the university
Web site, including lists of course readings, short synopses
of lectures, and descriptions of purposes and goals. One graduate
course of especial interest available on Mahoney' site is "The
Sciences of the Artificial," which includes many topics
of interest to students of software, including cybernetics,
information theory, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence. [end of page 9]
Ohio State University computer scientist Wayne Carlson has made
available the syllabus for his course, "A Critical History
of Computer Graphics and Animation."
This syllabus includes links to a timeline of Computer Graphics
and a "CGI Family Tree," which shows the relationships
among the individuals and institutions involved in the development
of computer generated images.
University of Wisconsin, Madison, computer science doctoral
student Jim Gast in his course "Introduction to Artificial
Intelligence" includes a slide show presentation on the
History of AI.
Economic and social historian Richard Griffiths' course site
"History of the Internet, Internet for Historians"
at the University of Leyden surveys the history of ARPANET and
the World Wide Web, the history of electronic mail, and Veronica
and search engine technology.
Rob Latham's University of Iowa honors proseminar "Postmodern
Technocultures" moves the debate over software's past
from the scientific to the cultural implications of cybernetics
and simulation, and explores the manifestation of a cyberpunk
Computer science professor Jim Mooney's "Advanced Operating
Systems" syllabus at West Virginia University offers
not only a course overview and assigned readings, but also
a classified list of computer operating systems and extensive
bibliography of operating systems literature.
Perhaps the best starting place is the Web site of University
of Warwick computer historian Martin Campbell-Kelly. Campbell-Kelly
has compiled a list of courses on the history of computing
taught at more than two-dozen institutions around the world.
Reference works are one type of Paper World resource that
may soon migrate entirely to the Internet. Already numerous
reference resources abound on the Web, allowing historians
to obtain a quick overview of an unfamiliar subject or to
check some of the more mundane details of research without
leaving the computer for a dash to the library. Of course,
most historians are familiar with the professionally-run general
reference sites, perhaps the most widely used of which is
Britannica. Many such sites require a fee for use, and most
universities have subscriptions that provide access for faculty,
staff and students. A for-profit service such as Britannica
has an obligation to provide accurate information to its subscribers,
allowing the researcher to place reasonable trust in the source.
Xrefer, another general reference site, draws its content
from published reference sources and sells subscriptions to
Xreferplus, its full-service reference resource. But the site
also contains a free reference library with access to information
from 43 of the 101 reference works available with the subscription,
the most relevant of which are The Compact American Dictionary
of Computer Words, A Dictionary of Science, and The
New Penguin Dictionary of Science.
General reference sources such as Britannica and xrefer typically
do not supply the kind of specialty information sought after
by the software historian. [end of page 10] A number of free dictionaries, timelines,
and glossaries focused on computer-related topics have been
placed on the Web by both individuals and institutions. Even
if a site is free to use, the institution that supports it has
a reputation to maintain, and thus, a stake in supplying accurate
information to its visitors. Sites that are free to use but
supported through advertising need to develop a reputation for
easy-to-find, sound information to increase traffic, and thus
advertising revenue. For those who do not mind pages flashing
ads for nanotechnology and computer conferences, Webopedia has
an extensive dictionary of computer-related terms.
Definitions are brief and the historical scope is thin, though,
making it of limited use for the historian.
Scholars researching software history will find the Web abounds
with online bibliographies, and the potential consequence
of erroneous information in these works is smallan incorrect
citation will likely only lead to a frustrating or fruitless
trip to the library. Historians looking for a primer in computer
history might look to the bibliography maintained by the IEEE
History Center, which includes most of the significant secondary
sources in the history of computing.
Currently the bibliography covers works published through
early 2000, but the site's proprietors indicate it is a work
in progress. The Software History Bibliography, maintained
by CBI, contains approximately 1,500 references to primary
and secondary sources in software history.
The Web is also rich in bibliographies aimed primarily at
computer scientists rather than historians. While a number
of excellent bibliographies exist, only one will be mentioned
here because of its scope, The Collection of Computer Science
Bibliographies. This ambitious site includes over 1,400 bibliographies
encompassing over 1.2 million individual references.
Although many of the bibliographies address recent topics
in computer science, some focus on long-standing subjects,
while others explicitly focus on historical events. The site
continues to grow as Alf-Christian Achilles, the developer
of the site, maintains it in his spare time, and the site
receives almost 10,000 requests per day. According to Achilles,
plans are in place to acquire funding that would allow the
site to become more than a spare-time project.
If cyberspace can be called the New World for historical research,
the online libraries, archives and corporate Web sites discussed
in the first part of this review are akin to the mid-19th century
New England of this New World. Venturing beyond these staid
pages into the farther reaches of cyberspace, intrepid software
history researchers can find a vast number of eclectic sites
and other online resources produced by a mixed bag of software
insiders and enthusiasts. The quality of this material and its
value to researchers varies immensely from site to site. But
with many of the significant figures in software history feeling
at home in cyberspace, some of these sources might be available
only on the Web, with no paper versions in existence. These
sites are a virtually untapped resource awaiting exploration. [end of page 11]
Some sites maintained by individuals contain resources that
appear similar in kind to those in the "Old World"
of libraries and archives, and the people who maintain these
sites are quite serious about the resources they have collected
or the articles they have written and published on their sites.
These sites have been categorized within the realm of the Wild
West, however, because these resources are not assembled and
maintained by the traditional institutional purveyors of research
sources. Examples of this nature include otherwise-unpublished
articles placed on personal Web sites, such as the history of
LISP Web site
written and maintained by Dr. Herbert Stoyan (Chair
of Artificial Intelligence at the Institute of Computer Science
of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) or the history
of Prolog, written by a computer scientist as part of his degree
program at the Technischen Universität Berlin.
While these two sites contain unpublished secondary sources,
the REXX History archive is representative of the kinds of valuable
primary sources that may be found in obscure corners of the
Web. This site, compiled by an IBM UK Fellow, contains links
to a number of documents related to IBM's development of the
REXX language and associated programs.
Many "players" in the history of computing maintain
Web sites where they present their own take on historical events.
A number of these sites tell the story of the development of
technologies in which the authors were involved, and may also
include links to relevant primary sources. Some also serve as
platforms for the promotion of site creators' views on the future
of software. With oral historians unable to interview more than
a fraction of the thousands of computer and software practitioners
alive today, the personal reflections of a number of early leaders
in software might only be found in these self-published Web
Advocates of the Free Software movement have established two
sites which tell of the history and philosophy behind the
development of GNU, an operating system planned as a free
replacement for UNIX.
Eric Raymond, author of the New Hacker's Dictionary (MIT
Press, 1996 3rd ed.) and a strong proponent of open source
software development, has placed several articles on his homepage,
including a "Brief History of Hackerdom," and "The
Cathedral and the Bazaar," an essay on the development
Not all personal sites have been established as an exercise
in advocacysome sites appear to be less a soapbox than
a memoir. Such sites may contain quirky remembrances of software
history, but they often go beyond the anecdotal to record
an insider's view of events. These narratives, which abound
on personal Web sites and elsewhere, need to be greeted with
some degree of skepticism. Of course, using "personal
history" represents a new take on the problem of sources
long faced by historiansreading a history of a failed
operating system written by its inventor, for instance, takes
us into problematic territory different from the traditional
"history written by the victor" quandary.
Still, many are surprisingly forthright. In addition to personal
history, these sites may also contain non-historical writings,
published and unpublished, that may be of interest as primary
sources, and other documents, graphics, links and files that
represent the site's proprietor. [end of page 12] Bob Bemer,
"grandfather" of COBOL and father of ASCII, has
created a chatty and eclectic site that includes, among other
things, copies of some of his published papers and a link
to "Interesting Computer History as seen (and sometimes
made) by" Bob Bemer himself.
One pioneer who has taken a great deal of interest in disseminating
material about his own early work is Dennis Ritchie of Bell
Laboratories. Ritchie, co-inventor of the Unix time-sharing
system, has posted a number of accounts of his work, as well
as primary material, to his public Web site.
The collection includes published reminiscences, a limited amount
of scanned material, and a salvaged 1976 memo on the potential
for porting Unix to new machines.
This memo and some other documents on Ritchie's site are transcribed
rather than scanned. Historians, however, appreciate working
with original documents or at least scans of materials for the
sensory experience, and in some cases the senses may uncover
information not contained by the words on the page.
Using originals or images of originals also ensures researchers
are using an accurate rendition of the text.
The creators of VisiCalc, an early and successful spreadsheet
program, have also established a Web site dedicated to the history
of this program, a forerunner of today's commercial spreadsheet
The site, hosted by co-inventor Dan Bricklin with the assistance
of business partner Bob Frankston, includes photos, Dan Bricklin's
personal narrative on the development of VisiCalc, screenshots,
software for the original IBM PC version of the spreadsheet
utility, a retrospective on why VisiCalc was not patented, and
a transcript of a Software Arts (creators of VisiCalc) meeting
on August 12, 1981, documenting the staff's reaction to the
formal announcement of the IBM Personal Computer.
Bricklin is also a dedicated "blogger" (web-logger)
who has taken up the task of publicly chronicling his daily
activities, mostly in computer industry circles, in an online
diary or "blog." Blogs from individuals and groups
are potentially rich and valuable resources for historians
and will be readily accessible beyond the walls of jealous
archivesas long as you have the right plug-ins. A brief
history of blogs may be found at Rebecca's Pocket, a site
maintained by Rebecca Blood.
Blood notes that blogs have changed over the last five or
six years from commentaries on interesting Web links (the
obscure, the overlooked, the important, the weird) to short
entries on "something noticed on the way to work, notes
about the weekend, a quick reflection on some subject or another."
How historians will bring order to this cacophony is an enticing
question. [end of page 13]
An example of blogging demonstrating the potential of the
medium for research in software history is "Joel on Software,"
a site by developer Joel Spolsky. The intimate view afforded
by this blog is breathtaking. On February 8, 2002, for example,
Spolsky informs us that "Now that ArsDigita is gone,
I think we can officially declare the Internet Exuberance
era, which opened with Travels with Samantha, officially closed.
Even though the tendency is to blame it on the VCs, who replaced
an exciting, charismatic and visionary founder with grey,
grey, grey, the truth is that the Internet consulting market
was totally wiped out more than a year ago and there's no
reason for AD to have been exempted." These two sentences
alone are hyperlinked to material in five other blogs or Web
Other notable blogs issue from Wired Magazine's senior
editor Paul Boutin
and Linux kernel designer Alan Cox
(as well as "the other side of the story" presented
by his wife, Telsa).
Personal pages also may not contain the self-conscious reflection
of "personal history" or create the diary-like intimacy
of the weblog, but they can still provide incidental material
to enrich the portrait of a subject, and they can provide
access to unpublished papers, informal musings, and unedited
ideas available nowhere else. Donald Knuth, author of the
canonical series in computer science, The Art of Computer
Programming, maintains a site which includes news about
his family alongside previews of parts of volume four of this
Visitors can also check out lists of errata in his publications
and pictures of the impressive pipe organ installed in his
home. Any historian writing about John McCarthy would do well
to visit McCarthy's personal site, which includes numerous
papers from the past four decades of his career. He also posts
occasional comments on an array of issues in science and public
affairs, several of which address what appear to be two of
his pet peeves, the anti-genetic engineering movement and
Whether they have an intentional focus on historical events
or not, these sites allow the historian a new kind of access
to his or her subjectone that is unparalleled in the
Paper World. The creator of a personal Web page is creating
a public image of himself, in a medium that allows for play
and experimentation. The gravity of print is not herethe
ease and low cost of Web publishing allows for spontaneity
and capriciousness on the part of the publisher. If the site
proprietor has an idea, it can be easily announced on the
Web; it can just as easily be removed on a whim. By exploring
the small part of cyberspace shaped by his or her subjects,
the historian can discover what is important to them. And
although the representation provided by a personal page might
not be unguarded, it is often far less formal and much more
quirky than other presentations of the selfit is a lot
like meeting the person. And it is new territory for the historian
Web publishing also provides an inexpensive forum for enthusiasts
of all kinds, and those with a passion for anything computer-related
are naturally inclined to pay tribute to the objects of their
zeal on the Web. [end of page 14] Like personal pages, enthusiasts'
sites cover a wide array of subjects, use the unique properties
of the Web with differing degrees of success, and vary in the
quality and extent of their information. Some are produced by
ambitious individuals, while others are the products of real-world
organizations or Web-based collectives.
A prime example of the individually-maintained page is the
Alan Turing Homepage, an enormous Web site created by Andrew
Hodges, author of the well-received biography, Alan Turing:
and a British mathematician self-described as having an "academic
Hodges has created a kind of advanced academic blog with his
impressive Alan Turing Scrapbook, which contains an assortment
of writings, photos, notes, and links on topics relevant to
Turing's life and work. Also included is a short biography and
complete bibliography of Turing's writings, and notes on archival
holdings of Alan Turing's papers and photographs.
Devotees of the mainframe timesharing operating system (OS)
Multics (1965-2000) have maintained their connections with one
another through the development of a site with an extensive
record of the history and features of this OS, the Multiplexed
Information and Computing Service.
The site includes a list of almost 1,500 people who have contributed
to Multics, with some mail and email addresses, a history and
bibliography, and a selection of technical papers and other
documents. Like the primary resources at Dennis Ritchie's site
(mentioned above) these documents were transcribed, and are
not available as images replicating their (original) paper forms.
The site also includes a page with links to personal stories
and pictures from engineers who worked on the development of
Multics. (This installment of Iterations includes an
in-depth review of the site by Thomas Haigh.)
Friends and colleagues of the late John W. Tukey have developed
a site devoted to collecting memories of him.
Tukey, a pioneering Princeton statistician who, among other
accomplishments, co-authored (with J.W. Cooley) the first paper
on the fast Fourier transform algorithm. Tukey is credited with
coining the term "software," a discovery made through
the use of the online journal collection J-STOR. (Atsushi Akera
reviews the "Memories of John W. Tukey" Web site in
this installment of Iterations.)
Despite the popular image of the Web as the territory of the
future, it has also been settled by enthusiasts devoted to resurrecting
the past. The Software History Center, a project run by software
industry pioneers Luanne Johnson and Burt Grad, sponsors events
like the 2002 ADAPSO reunion, collects anecdotes from software's
past, and serves as a conduit for the preservation of records.
Members of the "retrocomputing" movement have established
a number of sites devoted to the preservation and dissemination
of old programs and operating systems. At Martin Campbell-Kelly's
sitededicated to one of the first stored-program computers,
the EDSAC (1949)the technically-oriented scholar can
download a simulation of this computer in versions ready for
Windows or a Mac.
[end of page 15] The Computer History Simulation Project,
led by Bob Supnik, allows visitors to download a package of
OS simulators and software kits that emulate a variety of
early computers, including the pervasive DEC PDP series (1960-late1970s),
the early small-business computer IBM 1401 (1960), and the
MITS Altair 8800 (1975), originally sold as a $397 computer
The Online Software Museum maintains historical sketches on
several systems and anyone with a VT-100 terminal emulator
can log on and try their hand at Altair BASIC, CP/M or RDOS.
Such simulators may be a fun and challenging diversion for
the software historian, but they also provide historians with
first-hand experience with the tools and technologies addressed
by their work. But can "preserved" software find
a critical place as part of serious historical research? With
historians of technology generally concerned with social and
institutional history and less with narratives focused primarily
on technical development, the place for this material in the
scholarly research of the history of software remains to be
One area of software that is primarily in the hands of amateur
enthusiasts is gaming history. The history of software should
extend beyond the merely trivial, but it is hard to classify
computer and video gamingwhich has carved out a formidable
niche in Western and Eastern cultureas trivial. Computer
and video gaming today is a six-billion-dollar industry in
America alone, and the shock wave accompanying the advertising
blitz it generates elicits significant reactions from educators,
parents, and the cultural elite, as well as the target audience.
The history of gaming is rich terrain for the study of software
communities. The subgenre of interactive fiction, for instance,
is one area where historians of computing might find opportunities
to fashion more humanistic studies of technology.
The Colossal Cave Adventure game, produced in the 1970s, is
usually credited as the first interactive fiction game to depict
a virtual world which could be navigated with pidginized English.
The game was based on the dimensions of a real cave in the Mammoth
Cave complex in Kentucky, and is filled with real caver ("spelunker")
jargon. The history of MUD, the Multi-User Dungeon or Multi-User
Dimension, a form of interactive fiction that includes the Colossal
Cave Adventure game,
is documented in many places including the personal page of
Richard Bartle, who co-wrote the first MUD for the DEC-10 in
A more general resource is The GameArchive. The GameArchive
is a volunteer site managed by a group of video game and pinball
The site includes everything from blueprints for Bally pinball
machines to collections of Atari lapel pins, press photos, and
an archive of articles about the genre. Unfortunately, gaming
history sites are often awash with nostalgia, a form of homesickness
for the past that often overemphasizes the novelty of the past
while denigrating the present. The How They Got Game Site discussed
in the first part of this essay is a notable exception. [end of page 16]
Some developers have taken advantage of the unique capabilities
of Web publishing, intentionally or unintentionally tailoring
their material to this format to present information in a way
no other media can. Many of these "indigenous" sites
defy categorization, even in a discussion that takes as its
starting point the idiosyncratic nature of much Web-based material.
A good example of such a site is CyberGeography Research. Martin
Dodge, proprietor of the site, defines the scope of it in this
CyberGeography is the study of the spatial
nature of computer communications networks, particularly the
Internet, the World-Wide Web and other electronic "places"
that exist behind our computer screens, popularly referred
to as cyberspace. Cybergeography encompasses a wide
range of geographical phenomena from the study of the physical
infrastructure, traffic flows, the demographics of the new
cyberspace communities, to the perception and visualisation
of these new digital spaces.
Dodge, a researcher with the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
at University College, London, has included an "Atlas of
Cyberspaces," with a number of maps and other graphic representations
that he calls "cybermaps." Among the collection is
a set of historical maps drawn by the creators of the ARPANET,
Usenet, and the Internet in the course of their development.
Although this set is far from complete, a perusal of the collection
may inspire historians to reconceptualize their own work by
encouraging them to think about software development as a map
or image rather than as a narrative.
As the number of Web-indigenous documents grows, forward
(and backward) thinking Netizens are collecting and maintaining
them in archives, one of which, the Google (formerly Usenet)
Groups Archive of newsgroup posts, is of ready value. Here,
historians of computing can find messages posted to online
discussion groups over the past twenty years.
A whopping 700 million messages are archived at this site.
Google administrators/archaeologists have already combed through
this material and uncovered the first notices about the "Y2K
problem" (January 18, 1985), "search engines"
(March 10, 1988), and "Internet Gopher" (September
10, 1991). First-person narratives and other memoranda concerning
the early years of Usenet are being collected through the
ECHO (Exploring and Collecting History Online) Science &
Technology Memory Bank project funded by the Alfred P. Sloan
Other "born digital" archives include collections
of streaming video, anecdotes, and "frequently asked
questions" or FAQs. Streaming media sites are among the
most novel approaches to software's history to be found on
the Web today. Video and audio interviews with software pioneers
can be found as occasional segments at Dr. Dobb's TechNet-Cast.
Footage and sound archived here includes an interview with
Peter Salus on the history of Unix recorded at the 2001 Usenix
Technical Conference, Danny Hillis' keynote address at the
2000 Game Developer Conference on the "magic of software"
as storytelling and play, and Dick Shoup and Alvy Ray Smith's
path-breaking work on the computer graphics paint programs
SuperPaint and BigPaint. [end of page 17]
The "frequently asked question" sheet, or FAQ, is
a curious mechanism for transmitting information in the form
of an "orientation guide" or "noise-reduction
tool" for users of online resources. Many FAQs were born
out of the frustrations of Usenet discussion groups. Established
members of these groups disliked imparting basic instructions
and repeating tired conversations with "newbies."
FAQs became a mechanism for educating and informing new users
before they hopped onto discussion threads. As such, they may
be of especial interest to historians interested in online social
networks or communities. An exhaustive archive of Usenet FAQs
is found in the searchable Internet FAQ Archives, which periodically
catalogues nearly 4,000 individual FAQ pages authored by approximately
Other born-digital archives of note include the collection of
and a collection of ARPANET manuscript material placed on the
Web by journalist Katie Hafner, located at the Internet Archive.
A number of other electronic resources are intended to keep
historians of software apprised of their own community's efforts
and the latest news in computer science and software business
generally. A good example of this is the newsgroup list. One
such list, operated by Internet pioneer Dave Farber, professor
of telecommunication systems and business and public policy
at the University of Pennsylvania, is called the Interesting
The archive of this list is updated in real-time as new messages
arrive from list memberswhich include journalists, computer
scientists, industry leaders, and usersand catalogues
a remarkable array of opinions stretching back to April 1993.
For the computer historian two lists are available. Paul Ceruzzi,
Curator of Aerospace Electronics and Computing at the Smithsonian's
National Air and Space Museum, personally maintains a list inaugurated
last year that is only beginning in its service as a useful
tool for computer historians.
Another is the Red Rock Eater News Service hosted by Philip
Agre of the Department of Information Studies at UCLA.
The names comes from the Book of Riddles by Bennett Cerf:
Q: What is big and red and eats rocks?
A: A big red rock eater.
Neither Ceruzzi's nor Agre's list is designed for direct discussion
activity. Instead, both serve as information clearinghouses.
Many humanists have been reluctant to embrace the Web as
a research source, and for good reason.
Godwin's Law ("As an online discussion grows longer,
the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler
and the easy descent into impassioned silliness it lampoons
characterize huge swaths of cyberspace. [end of page 18] Although
mere fear or loathing may keep some historians from employing
the Web in their work, there are also substantial barriers
to carrying out solid historical research using Internet-based
Many of the sites discussed in this reviewthe first
part in particularare sponsored by well-known institutions,
and many of the materials they make available on the Web are
the kinds of sources recognized and typically used by historians.
But today, more than ever, large parts of the Web remain a
crying wilderness of bewildering sights, sounds, and thoughts.
How can we know we are looking at high quality material when
the usual flags of quality are not there? No librarian has
sifted through the Web, selecting only the best for a library
collection; no archivist chose to collect these materials,
believing they should be preserved for future generations.
Sites generally are not reviewed in our professional journals.
We know the good publishers, and if a book came from a university
press we can assume it went through peer review. The mere
fact that a book or article has been publishedan expensive
endeavorusually suggests someone believed the author's
work worthy of substantial investment. That we may lose our
bearings on the Web is a common concern. But we are
equipped to evaluate Web-based sources, even without the usual
filters. After all, we can distinguish the New Yorker
from People even when the two lie side by side at the
dentist's office. Many of the Web sites discussed in this
review are maintained by people widely known in the fields
of computing or history of technology. And perhaps the more
unusual sitesthose representing what historian Roy Rosenzweig
calls "grass-roots history," with their quirky quality
that would be red-flagged by a professional publication or
archivemight become the basis for interesting and innovative
But even if we can conquer our fear of accidentally relying
on poor-quality source material, how do we find relevant sources
on the Web? No one knows just how vast the Web is, and no search
engine has indexed all of its corners. Google, the search engine
with the highest number of indexed sites, claims to have roughly
1.5 billion fully-indexed pages in its database.
Some organizations have tried to tame the Web and make it useful
for academic researchers by developing subject-specific "portals"
that collect and organize content, providing links to relevant
sites. (An up-and-coming portal of portals is the InvisibleWeb).
Portals may also include a search engine whose search domain
is preset, limiting a search to relevant sites. But for those
who wish to find material not indexed by portals, no real solution
yet exists. Sifting through the results of any Web search performed
with one of the general search engines such as Altavista or
Infoseek can quickly turn into an exercise in futility, or at
least seem like a terribly inefficient way to spend research
time. The search engine Google, which has a built-in bias for
selecting sites in the .edu and .gov domains, might be a scholar's
best bet (or at least first resort) when searching the Web.
A final problem of note is that which Jeffrey Barlow calls
the "volatility of the Web."
If scholars employ Web-based sources in their work, how can
they cite them with confidence, knowing that individual Web
pages and even whole sites can quickly disappear? [end of
page 19] One solution for the time being is the Internet Archive
Wayback Machine, which holds "snapshots" of the
Web that extend back to 1996.
As of October, 2001, this non-profit site included 10 billion
pages, and a copy of the entire Web is added to the collection
every two months. However, because the site essentially republishes
Web pages, it poses a challenge to copyright law, and Internet
Archive representatives have submitted an amicus brief to
the Supreme Court regarding Eldred v. Ashcroft, a case
that challenges the 1998 law extending copyright terms for
twenty more years. While the legal status of the Wayback Machine
remains in question, Web developers can thwart the archiving
of their sites by the Internet Archive by requiring a password
to view pages or by excluding the robots that index Web pages.
Even with the potential problems noted here, the Web houses
a vast and ever-growing pool of material, and sooner or later
historians will have to grapple with it. And who better to
test the potential of the Web as a source for scholarly research
than historians of software? The Internet is a natural forum
for those engaged in inventing, developing, marketing and
working with softwarethis is their "home turf,"
so to speak. If the world of bits and silicon is the computer
scientist's laboratory, then the Internet is their break room,
and historians who take the opportunity to visit will have
the chance to act as ethnographers, participating in their
subjects' culture as they observe it. [end of page 20]
Juliet Burba and Philip L. Frana, "Researching
the History of Software: Mining Internet Resources in the 'Old
World,' 'New World,' and 'Wild West,'" Iterations: An
Interdisciplinary Journal of Software History 1 (September
13, 2002): 1-35.
Santayana on America: Essays, Notes, and Letters on American
Life, Literature, and Philosophy, ed. Richard Colton Lyon
(New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968).
Michael O'Malley and Roy Rosenzweig, "Brave New World
or Blind Alley?: American History on the World Wide Web,"
Journal of American History (June 1997): 132-155. Republished
Because the sources maintained by the ACM are indispensable
to the software historian and are available to all ACM member-subscribers,
they have been included in this review.
Link to document available as "My Advice to Students"
(Available only by written request.)
present Evans & Sutherland history page is available at
For a cached version of the earlier and much more extensive
E & S history see http://ai.zju.edu.cn/~yzhuang/cad/Evans.htm
http://heinz1.library.cmu.edu/Newell/ and http://heinz1.library.cmu.edu/Simon/
parent site at http://poweredge.stanford.edu/videogames/main.swf
D. Long, "OpenCourseWare: Simple Idea, Profound Implications,"
Syllabus Magazine, January 2002. On the OpenCourseWare
project see http://web.mit.edu/ocw/
The Compact American Dictionary of Computer Words,
ed. American Heritage Dictionaries (Houghton Mifflin Company,
1998); A Dictionary of Science, eds. Alan Isaacs, John
Daintith and Elizabeth Martin (Oxford University Press, 1999);
and The New Penguin Dictionary of Science, ed. Michael
J. Clugston (Penguin, 1998).
many years an apocryphal story has circulated among historians
about an unnamed European historian who had been tracking
the spread of cholera in the eighteenth century by smelling
the envelopes of old letters. Letters mailed from cholera-infested
regions were sometimes sprinkled with vinegar, which was believed
to be a disinfectant. With no original letters, the historian
would have had no way to track the cholera, and thus no research
study. Paul Duguid, according to his testimony on National
Public Radio and elsewhere, witnessed the vinegar-sniffing
firsthand. The story is retold in The Social Life of Information
(2000) by Duguid and coauthor John Seely Brown.
refers to on-demand, online personal weblogging or journaling.
According to the Jargon File, the Bloggs Family is "an
imaginary family consisting of Fred and Mary Bloggs and their
children. Used as a standard example in knowledge representation
to show the difference between extensional and intensional
objects. For example, every occurrence of 'Fred Bloggs' is
the same unique person, whereas occurrences of 'person' may
refer to different people." However, in most cases "blog"
is simply an abbreviation of "weblog."
Rebecca Blood is author of The Weblog Handbook: Practical
Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog (Perseus
Publishing, 2002). See also We've Got Blog: How Weblogs
are Changing Our Culture, with an introduction by Rebecca
Blood (Perseus Publishing, 2002).
Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma (New York: Simon and
the Interactive Fiction Page http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/wsr/Web/
IF/homepage.html and the Interactive Fiction Archive http://www.ifarchive.org/
See also the piece "30 Years of RFCs" (RFC #2555)
by Robert Braden, et al. at http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc2555.html
Graham, "Historians and Electronic Resources: A Second
Citation Analysis," Journal of the Association for
History and Computing 4 (August 2001). At http://mcel.pacificu.edu/JAHC/
jahcindex.htm the author performs a citation analysis on articles
published by members of randomly selected history departments.
She found that only five percent of these historians cited
online documents in their articles and concluded that "historians
have yet to apply electronic resources as evidence in a significant
Mike Godwin, "Meme, Countermeme," at http:// www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if.html
Barlow remarks on the irrational fear of the Web that keeps
some scholars away and the stodgy contempt for the ease of
Internet research that stops others ("real historians
don't read bytes") he also discusses the substantial
reasons why the web is mistrusted as a source. See "Historical
Research and Electronic Evidence: Problems and Promises,"
by Jeffrey G. Barlow in Writing, Teaching, and Researching
History in the Electronic Age: Historians and Computers,
ed. Dennis A. Trinkle (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1998).
Rosenzweig, "The Road to Xanadu: Public and Private Pathways
on the History Web," Journal of American History
88 (September 2001), republished at http://chnm.gmu.edu/chnm/
to an independent assessment Google's own estimate of the
size of their database is somewhat too highsee http://
InvisibleWeb limits searches to sites that are "portals"
to large archival collections, databases, reference works,
etc. The tool works best by using the clickable menus rather
than by keyword search. See http://www.invisibleweb.com
of the search heuristics of a number of popular search engines
can be found at www.searchengineworld.com
Barlow pp. 218-220 for a discussion of the problem and some
Green, "A Library as Big as the World," Business
Week Online, Feb. 28, 2002, at http://biz.yahoo.com/bizwk/020228/svdbxsjyy3jmcjcxidlrsa_1.html;
and Katharine Mieszkowski, "Dumpster Diving on the Web,"
Salon.com, Nov. 2, 2001, at http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/
All links active as of August 15, 2002.
Institutions and organizations
Association of Computing Machinery
ACM Special Interest Groups Guide
Charles Babbage Institute
Community Memory Project
Internet Society: History of the Internet
SGML Users' Group History
Software History Center
Software Patent Institute
Unix Heritage Society
ACM Digital Library
Allen Newell Collection
Herbert Simon Collection
The Computing Research Repository
Early Computer Security Papers
The Joshua Lederberg Papers
Networked Computer Science Technical Reference Library (NCSTRL)
The Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing:Videogames
The Stony Brook Algorithm Repository
Turing Archive for the History of Computing
The Turing Digital Archive
Oral histories and interviews
CBI Oral History Collection
Lemelson Center Computer Oral History Collection
Marc Andreesen Interview Page
Wired Magazine Archive of People
1995 SQL Reunion
25th Anniversary of Computer Science at Cal Tech
Dagstuhl Conference on the History of Software Engineering
From Sumer to Spreadsheets
Vannevar Bush Symposium
Resource sites-professional historical
Building a Future for Software History
The History of Bioinformatics
How They Got Game
Computer science departments and Federal programs
Computing at Columbia Timeline
Early Days of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at
Early History of Computing in Turku
Forty Years of Computing at Newcastle
A History of Scientific Computing at Lawrence Livermore National
History of Supercomputing at Florida State University
History of the Department of Computer Sciences at Purdue University
History of the Medical Informatics Section of the Medical Library
History of the University of Utah School of Computing
MIT LCS Timeline
NSF Computational Science Highlights
A Personal History of Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill
SLAC Archives and History Office
SRI Computer Science Laboratory History
Timeline of Computing Services at the University of Alberta
Adobe Company Profile
Evans & Sutherland Historical Page
Evans and Sutherland History
Java Technology: An Early History
Official Intellivision Classic Videogame Website
Dictionaries, glossaries, encyclopedias
IBM Glossary of Computing Terms
NIST Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures
Web Dictionary of Cybernetics and Systems
Babel: A Glossary of Computer Oriented Abbreviations and Acronyms
Annotated Bibliography of Artificial Intelligence
CBI Software History Bibliography
The Collection of Computer Science Bibliographies
DBLP Computer Science Bibliography
Human-Computer Interaction Bibliography
IEEE History Center Computer History Bibliography
A Serious Beginner's Guide to Hypertext Research
Syllabi, course descriptions, course notes
Brief History of Operating Systems (Jim Mooney site)
Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (Jim Gast)
History of the Internet, Internet for Historians (Richard T.
Postmodern Technocultures (Rob Latham)
The Sciences of the Artificial (Michael Mahoney)
Courses in the History of Computing (Martin Campbell Kelly)
Journals, newsletters and other publications
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Iterations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Software History
Publications in the RAND "On Distributed Communications"
Canadian Internet Timeline
A Chronology of Artificial Intelligence
Evolution of Computer Animation
History of Medical Informatics
History of Programming Languages
History of Video Games
Hobbes' Internet Timeline
Kerlow's Art of 3D Computer Animation
Open Source Software History
PBS Internet Timeline
Unix, Microsoft Windows, and Computer Languages History
Draft Report of the Carnivore System
Original Proposal for the World Wide Web
Thomas Penfield Jackson's Findings of Fact in the Microsoft
TJ-2: A Very Early Word Processor
Personal pages: Historical essays and secondary material
Doug Jones' Punched Card Index
Emergence of the Programming Language Prolog (in German)
Eric Steven Raymond's Home Page (A Brief History of Hackerdom)
History of CALL
History of "The" Teapot
Personal history and homepages
Bemer's Computer History Vignettes
Dave Winer's Homepage: Outliners and Programming
Don Knuth's Homepage
The History of the GPL
Joel on Software
John McCarthy's Homepage
The Linux Portaloo (Alan Cox Weblog)
Paul Boutin Weblog
The Story of Frontier
Telsa Gwynne (the "more accurate" version of Alan
VisiCalc Information: History and Commentary
Alan Turing Homepage
Memories of John W. Tukey
Software History Center
Gaming and recreation
The Dot Eaters
The Colossal Cave Adventure Page
Early MUD History
A Short History of Interactive Fiction
Interactive Fiction Page
Interactive Fiction Archive
The Origin of Spacewar
Computer History Simulation Project
The Edsac Simulator
The History of Emulation
The Online Software Museum
Internet archives and other digital document collections
30 Years of RFCs by Robert Braden, et al.
Dennis Ritchie Homepage (Primeval C and other materials)
Internet Archive Wayback Machine
Internet Archive: Arpanet Collection
Internet FAQ Archives
The Living Internet
An Atlas of Cyberspaces
Dr. Dobb's TechNetCast
Newsgroups and mail lists
Internet History Mail List
Interesting People List
Paul Ceruzzi's Mail List
Red Rock Eaters
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