History for Geeks (Like Me)

In the Hutong
Trying to keep the TV off
1947 hrs.

Apart from being an all-around fan of things technological (geek), I have over the past few years become fascinated by the history of computing and information technology. You may guffaw, given that so much of all of this has come to pass during our lifetimes, but I’ve always been a history buff (I was one course short of making the national history honor society in university), and I’ve always found that a mashup of two of my interests is usually worth exploring.
I started by adding the quarterly Annals of the History of Computing to my IEEE membership each year, and was amply rewarded. Not only are there some incredible stories from the past 50 years that can only now be told, we are now able to look at the evolution of information technology from an historical perspective.
There is also a growing library of books on the topic, like ENIAC, the Triumphs and Tragedies of the World’s First Computer, Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, Revolution in the Valley: The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made, and Tracy Kidder’s superb The Soul of a New Machine, which was written as journalism but now serves as excellent history.
So I was interested when I got an invitation a couple of days ago from the IT History Society to join their ranks. I took them up, even though it looks like it is still early days for the organization. If you are the least interested, membership is free and it looks quite cool. The organization is supported by corporate members like Intel, HP, Symantec, Microsoft, IBM, and Applied Materials, and counts among its institutional members some of the leading lights of the Internet, like the Association for Computing Machinery, the IEEE History Center, the Internet Archive, and the Smithsonian.
Check it out – the membership form is here.

About David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.
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