MDST110 Electronic Coursebook for Students
Information Technology and Digital Media Studies
Prof. David Golumbia
University of Virginia
Fall 2004
MDST110 main pageMDST110 syllabus

4. The First Computers: From Colossus to UNIVAC

Weds Sep 15, 2004

Brief overview.

I. Before World War II: Early 20th Century Calculating Machines and Business Processes

II. World War II and the Invention of Modern Computing

III. World War II and the Politics of Computing

IV. The Immediate Post-War Years


Study Questions

  1. Think of other examples of media and technology. Are they digital or analog? Why? Are there mixed examples?
  2. What kinds of connections can you draw between "rational processes" like Taylorism and Fordism and the rise of computing?
  3. Does IBM's potential complicity in historical atrocities say anything fundamental about the business or technical practices in which they engage? Why or why not?
  4. What is at stake in the controversies (as recounted here and more fully in the textbook) about who built the first computer?

Reading for next class

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