[Please note: The conference is concluded and the proceedings are available from Springer.]


Deleagates to the New York Workshop made a visit to Bell Labs.

Call for Papers

NYU Tandon School of Engineering
Brooklyn, NY, USA
25-29 May 2016 

Analog and digital computers were developed by individuals aware of an international scientific community. Likewise, although sometimes thought of as solely national projects, the first computer networks were built in an age of growing interconnectivity among nations. This meeting of IFIP Working Group 9.7 in New York City gathers historians and other professionals to reflect on histories that foreground the international community. Participants with an interest in this historical context for computers and computer networks may present academic papers or join in roundtable discussions.

In accordance with this theme, we hope to blur the dichotomy between core and periphery and complicate simplistic notions of linear technological progress. Far from a deterministic view that computers and computer networks were developed in isolation and according to their own technical imperatives, we will show the history of pre-existing relationships and communities that led to the triumphs (and dead ends) in the history of computing. This broad perspective will help us to tell a more accurate story of important developments like the Internet, to be sure, but also it will provide us with a better understanding of how to sponsor future invention and innovation.

At the conference, we seek to foster a conversation about internationalism in the history of computers and computer networks along four broad themes:

  1. Invention
    • communities where analog computers were developed
    • communication about and competition for early devices
    • innovations brought in from the supposed periphery
    • failed, forgotten, or thwarted efforts to develop networks or industries
  2. Policy
    • trade and treaties supporting computers and networks
    • organizations like IFIP with a mission to promote collaboration
    • long trajectories of digital divides
    • case studies revealing ethical considerations
    • cross-national comparisons of gender or ethnic diversity in industry and education
  3. Infrastructure
    • communication and data networks before the Internet
    • development and diffusion of TCP/IP
    • connectivity efforts before NSFNET, NSFNET, and beyond
    • resistance to and success of the WorldWideWeb
  4. Social History
    • differences and similarities in international impacts on general society
    • antecedents (Wells’s World Brain) and visions (Human-Nets’s WorldNet)
    • individuals who championed connections between nations
    • historiography of internationalism in computing
    • representations of international computing communities in film or literature

It is hoped that the conference will be of interest to a broad range of people who study computing and computer networks, including academic scholars and graduate students, but also those who have a professional or technical interest in computing. Accordingly, there are two ways to participate:

  1. Academic Papers: For consideration, please submit your draft paper before January 8, 2016 via the conference website. Enquires are welcome in advance of your submission ([email protected]). Draft papers will be circulated before the conference in order to encourage a meaningful discussion. At the conference, each selected participant will be allotted time to present an overview of his or her paper. It is our intention to publish selected conference papers in an anthology by Springer, and hopefully the conference feedback will be useful as presenters complete their final drafts.
  1. Roundtable Discussions: The conference will also feature roundtables of 10-15 minute, relatively informal presentations related to the conference theme. Technical professionals and others who may not desire to prepare a full paper in advance are welcome to participate in this way. These presentations could focus on key figures, historical anecdotes, or observations on particular projects. We hope that these roundtables will spark lively conversation and, perhaps, generate research partnerships between historians and technical professionals. For consideration, send a title, a 300- to 500- word abstract, and your institutional affiliation before January 8 before April 15, 2016 by email ([email protected]). Enquires are welcome in advance of your submission.



January 8 Draft papers due for consideration
February 5 Acceptances announced
February 15 Deadline to confirm participation
April 1 Final papers due
April 15 Extended deadline for roundtable presentations
April 30 Registration deadline for discount rate
Wednesday, May 25 Conference begins
Sunday, May 29 Conference ends
Monday, May 30 Memorial Day (Federal US holiday)
July 1 Revisions due for papers selected for inclusion in conference proceedings

Program Overview

Wednesday, May 25
16.00 – 18.00 Registration and welcome reception
5 MetroTech Center, LC 400
Thursday, May 26
09.30 – 10.30 Registration and coffee
10.30 – 11.00 Opening ceremony
2 MetroTech Center, MAGNET (8th Floor)
11.00 – 12.00 Keynote speaker: Nicole Starosielski, Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU Steinhardt and author of The Undersea Network, will speak on “Submerged Histories of Internet Infrastructure”
Gather at 12.45 for offsite trip to Bell Labs.
Friday, May 27
Gather at 12.30 for offsite trip to Google’s New York headquarters.
15.00 – 16.00 Roundtable discussion
NYU’s Torch Club, 18 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10003
16.30 – 17.30 Working Group 9.7 business meeting
18:00 – 20.00 Conference dinner
Saturday, May 28
09.30 – 12.00 Paper presentations
2 MetroTech Center, MAGNET (8th Floor)
13.30 – 16.00 Paper presentations
Sunday, May 29
9.30 – 13.30 Paper presentations
13.30 – 14.00 Conference closing


Roundtable Discussion
Friday, 15.00, NYU’s Torch Club, 18 Waverly Place, New York, NY 10003.
Giovanni A. Cossu and Giovanni A. Cignoni – Hyperborea srl, Pisa, Italy“The Virtual Global Museum of Computing: Taking Up the Challenge”
Ulf Hashagen – Deutsches Museum, The Research Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Munich, Germany“‘Mirror-Image Twins’: German and Allied Computer Experts between Research Control, Confidentiality, Research Cooperation and Technology Transfer 1945-1950”
Evan Koblentz – Vintage Computer Federation, New Jersey, United States“Early British Mobile Computers”
Saturday Papers
2 MetroTech Center, MAGNET (8th Floor)
09.30 Paul E. Ceruzzi – National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, United States“The Other Side of Moore’s Law: The Chip, Aerospace, and the Microelectronics Revolution, 1962–1975”
10.00 Nicholas Lewis – University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Charles Babbage Institute, United States“The Route Less Taken: The Homegrown Los Alamos Integrated Computer Network”
11.00 Barbara Ainsworth, Chris Avram, Judy Sheard, Neil Clarke – Monash Museum of Computing History, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia“MONET: Monash University’s Campus LAN in the 1980s: A Bridge to Better Networking”
11.30 Frank Dittmann – Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany“The First Transatlantic Computer Communication between East and West”
13.30 Roger Johnson – Birkbeck College, London University, United Kingdom“There and Back Again: Andrew Booth, a British Computer Pioneer, and His Interactions with US and Other Contemporaries”
14.00 Valery V. Shilov and Sergey A. Silantiev – National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia“Machines à comparer les idées’ of Semen Korsakov: A First Step toward AI”
15.00 Arthur Tatnall – Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Bill Davey – RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia“Toward Machine Independence: From Mechanically Programmed Devices to the Internet of Things”
15.30 Giovanni A. Cignoni and Giovanni A. Cossu – Hyperborea srl, Pisa, Italy“The Global Virtual Museum of Information Science and Technology: A Project Idea”
Sunday Papers
2 MetroTech Center, MAGNET (8th Floor)
09.30 Bill Davey – RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Bob Houghton – Idaho State University, United States“Why not OSI?”
10.00 Christopher Leslie – NYU Tandon School of Engineering“Flame Wars, the QUASAR Hoax, and CSNET: Early Conceptions of the International Network User”
11.00 Martin Schmitt – Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany“The Code of Banking: Software as the Digitalization of German Savings Banks”
11.30 Evangelos Kotsioris – Princeton University, New Jersey, United States“Electronic ‘Ambassador’: The Diplomatic Missions of IBM’s RAMAC 305”
13.00 Herbert Bruderer – Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland“The Birth of Artificial Intelligence: The First Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Paris in 1951?” and “The World’s Smallest Mechanical Parallel Calculator: Discovery of Original Drawings and Patent Documents from the 1950s in Switzerland”

Conference Committees

Conference Chair

Christopher Leslie, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Program Committee

Arthur Tatnall (chair), Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia
Janet Abbate, Virginia Tech, USA
Gerard Alberts, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Corrado Bonfanti, Italian Computer Society, Italy
Tilly Blyth, Science Museum, London, UK
David Burger, IEEE History Committee, Sidney, Australia
Paul Ceruzzi, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, USA
Bill Davey, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center, Stevens Institute of Technology, USA
Lisa Gitelman, NYU Steinhardt and College of Arts and Science, USA
Marie Hicks, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA
John Impagliazzo, Hofstra University, USA
Roger Johnson, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK
Christopher Leslie, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, New York, USA
Petri Paju, University of Turku, Finland
Rebecca Slayton, Cornell University, USA
Janet Toland, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ

Organizing Committee

Christopher Leslie (chair), NYU Tandon School of Engineering, USA
Krysta Battersby, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, USA
Randy Sofia, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, USA
Barbara Tatnall, Heidelberg Press, Australia