Histories of Computing in Eastern Europe

Part of the 24th IFIP World Congress
Poznan University of Technology, Poland
19-21 September 2018

The next IFIP World Computing Congress ( will be held in September 2018. This is not only fifty years after the so-called Garmisch conference coined the phrase software engineering, but also it was at a place that fifty years before barely was thinkable as a conference location because of the Cold War. Both anniversary and location are useful reminders that computing and informatics rely on the international community for innovation. The next IFIP Working Group 9.7 workshop will reflect on these changes.

The NATO Software Engineering Conference in Garmisch, Germany was toward the start of a transformative decade for computing. The participants established a great deal of engineering there that undergirds modern practice and influenced its societal impact. The development can be said to have started a year or two before Garmisch, with ACM algorithms and the NBS FIPS standards, ending about a decade later with the Intel instruction set, the IEEE 730 software quality standard, the beginning drafts of the IEEE 754 floating point standard, and the start of standardization of Ethernet that would lead to IEEE 802. In defining the basis of software engineering as a profession, it gave an answer to the pressing needs of a perceived software crisis in their national economies. Even across the iron curtain, the USSR and East German computer scientists were adopting Western standards in order to be able to use Western software.

Garmisch was not the only way in which cooperation between nations provided a framework for innovation, of course. Even before general-purpose computers, the field depended upon the international scientific community. For example, Polish cryptographers in 1932 using information from a German informant and supplied to them by French intelligence began decoding encrypted messages from the German military. In 1939, the information they gathered was revealed to British and French intelligence, leading to the application of the electro-mechanical technology to the design of the Bombe by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park. Code-breaking also spurred the development of Colossus during World War 2, which significantly influenced the development of first-generation computers.

Workshop Themes

IFIP’s Working Group 9.7, which is dedicated to international histories of computing, intends to sponsor a series of papers to illuminate this important context as part of the IFIP World Congress in Poznań, Poland. Given the World Congress’s location, we are particularly interested in histories that reflect computing and informatics in eastern Europe. Any paper along these lines will be considered, including but not limited to:

  • Prior innovations that laid the groundwork for the Polish bomba, the development of the British bombe, and the overall collaboration between Poland, France, and England.
  • Histories of software engineering, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the NATO meeting in Garmisch, Germany that was the “first” software engineering conference.
  • Soviet computing and other topics related to the history of computing and informatics in Poland and eastern Europe more broadly.
  • The role of international standards and scientific communities in innovation.
  • Intersections of nation, race, gender, and class in the history of computing in eastern Europe.
  • Initiatives to preserve historical information about computing: archiving, digitizing, oral histories, reconstructing, and so on – in a systematic collaborative manner.
  • Pedagogies using the history of computing in eastern Europe in the classroom.
  • Papers relevant to the history of computing and informatics generally.

Submission Details

Academic historians and lovers of history, computing and informatics professionals, archivists, museum curators, and others are welcome to submit papers for this workshop, which will be coincident with the IFIP World Congress from 19-21 September 2018.

As has been our past practice, we request submission of draft papers for consideration. Accepted papers will be revised based on comments from reviewers and be distributed to participants before the workshop to ensure a lively conversation. After the workshop, authors will have the chance to incorporate feedback from the audience before submitting their final papers for consideration in the edited volume of selected papers for the proceedings, which will be published by Springer as a volume in the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology (IFIP-AICT) series.

In order to participate, please submit your paper via the Springer Online Conference Service. At the bottom of the page, you will see an icon to submit a paper. On the next page, if you have not used Springer OCS before, you must first create an account by clicking the icon to register for a new account. You will get a confirmation email and then you can proceed to search for our workshop (use the keyword HCEE2018) and then submit your paper. Springer OCS is available at

Enquires in advance of your submission or questions about Springer OCS may be addressed to the chair of the working group, Chris Leslie ( The working group website ( will make details about the workshop available in due course.

Remote Bombe Demonstration

The National Museum of Computing recently completed a crowdfunder to create a new gallery for the replica Bombe at Bletchley Park

A highlight of our program will be a remote demonstration of the Bombe created by Alan Turing that is demonstrated to visitors of The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom. The Bombe was used to find the initial settings for the Enigma machines each day. To celebrate the work of the three distinguished Polish cryptographers – Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski – and the major contribution they made to the reading of Enigma messages throughout the Second World War, a message enciphered using Enigma coding will be transmitted from Poznań to Bletchley Park and be decoded using the replica Turing Bombe after which a reply will be sent back.

Bombe Day Updates

Please register here to receive more information or ask questions about Bombe day at the World Computer Congress.

Important Dates for History of Computing in Eastern Europe Workshop

10 November 2017 Call for papers announced
1 April 2018 Submissions open on website
1 May 2018 Review of draft papers begins; acceptances announced within one month
15 June 2018 Last day to submit draft paper for consideration
15 July 2018 Deadline to confirm participation
1 September 2018 Revised papers due for distribution to workshop participants
19-21 September 2018 Workshop in Poznan, Poland as part of the IFIP World Congress
2 November 2018 Final, formatted versions due for papers selected for inclusion in conference proceedings

Program Committee

Christopher Leslie, chair South China University of Technology, People's Republic of China
Janet Abbate Virginia Tech, USA
Barbara Ainsworth Monash University, Australia
Gerard Alberts University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Chris Avram Monash University, Australia
Corrado Bonfanti Italian Computer Society, Italy
Sandra Braman Texas A&M University, USA
David Burger Past Chair IEEE History Committee, Sydney Australia
Paul Ceruzzi Smithsonian Institution, USA
Giovanni Cignoni HMR Project, Italy
Giovanni Cossu Hyperborea srl, Italy
Helena Durnová Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Lisa Gitelman New York University, USA
David Alan Grier George Washington University, USA
Daryl H. Hepting University of Regina, Canada
Marek Hołyński Polish Information Processing Society, Poland
Harold "Bud" Lawson Lawson Konsult AB, Sweden
Cezary Mazurek Poznan University of Technology, Poland
Irina Nikivincze Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Petri Paju University of Turku, Finland
Benjamin Peters University of Tulsa, USA
Victor Petrov European University Institute, Italy
Ramon Puigjaner University of the Balearic Islands, Spain
Martin Schmitt Centre for Contemporary History, Germany
Judy Sheard Monash University, Australia
Valery Shilov National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow
Miroslaw Sikora Institute of National Remembrance, Katowice, Poland
Rebecca Slayton Cornell University, USA
Jaroslav Švelch Charles University, Czech Republic
Ksenia Tatarchenko Geneva University, Switzerland
Arthur Tatnall Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Janet Toland Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

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