Beyond ENIAC: Early Digital Platforms & Practices

An der Universität Siegen findet vom 10. – 12. Juni 2016 ein interessanter Workshop zur Digitalgeschichte statt. Thema sind die frühen Plattformen und Praktiken der Digitalisierung. Der Workshop vereint international führende Größen des Feldes wie Martin Campbell-Kelly mit jungen Wissenschaftler wie Ksenia Tatarchenko. Weitere Informationen zur Anmeldung finden sich auf dem Blog von Thomas Haigh, nun Assistant Professor an der Universität Siegen.


Title: Beyond ENIAC: Early Digital Platforms & Practices
Dates: June 10-12, 2016
Location: Ludwig Wittgenstein House, Unteres Schloß 3, 57072 Siegen, Germany (map link) .
Organizer: Thomas Haigh (
Sponsor: Collaborative research center „Media of Cooperation“ of Siegen University.

The publication of ENIAC In Action: Making and Remaking the Modern Computer (Haigh, Priestley & Rope, 2016) provides an opportunity to showcase new work on the history of computing and explore the place such work within media studies and computer science, the two key components of Siegen University’s new School of Media and Information. During the workshop many of Europe’s leading scholars of computing history will present their latest research to each other and participate in a series of roundtable discussions structured to provide lively interdisciplinary engagement. Early work on the history of computing was carried out by computers scientists and pioneers. It focused on technical analysis of the computers of the 1940s and 50s. As the history of computing has matured as a scholarly field its focus has shifted to social and cultural analysis and to later time periods. The shift reduced computer scientist Donald Knuth to tears, shed because history was being “dumbed down.“ Now a new generation of scholars is returning to explore the world of early digital platforms and practices, combining careful attention to materiality and technical concerns with the broader perspectives of scholarly history. This trend creates new opportunities to situate studies of the early digital within media studies, where scholars recognize that the modern world is mediated by the affordances of digital platforms, and within computer science where more scholars may come to share Knuth’s sense that historical knowledge is the foundation of deep technical understanding.

Friday June 10
1:00-4:00 Afternoon social event TBA

5:00-7:00 Roundtable discussion: „What does the history of IT have to say to media studies and computer science?“

Liesbeth de Mol, CNRS/STL, Université de Lille
Carolin Gerlitz, University of Amsterdam
Sebastian Gießmann, Siegen University
Thomas Haigh, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee & Siegen University (Moderator)
Volkmar Pipek, Siegen University
Erhard Schüttpelz, Siegen University
Matti Tedre, Stockholm University
8:00 Dinner: Restaurant Bar (the name of the restaurant, not just a generic description). Löhrstraße 51, 57072 Siegen.

Saturday June 11
9:00 – 11:00 ENIAC in Action

Thomas Haigh, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee & Siegen University: “The Lost Labors of ENIAC”
Mark Priestley: “A History of ENIAC in Three Programs”
11:30 – 1:00 Roundtable: Origins of the Operating System

Gerard Alberts, University of Amsterdam
Maarten Bullynck, SPHERE, Paris 8
Pierre Mounier Kuhn, CNRS & Paris-Sorbonne
1:00 – 2:30 Lunch, Wirtshaus am Oberen Schlos. Oberes Schloss 1, DE-57072 Siegen.

2:30 – 4:30: Works in Progress Session

Liesbeth De Mol, CNRS/STL, Université de Lille, “A Small History of Small Machines.”
Ksenia Tatarchenko, Geneva University, “‘The Computer Does Not Believe in Tears’: Soviet Programming, Professionalization and Gendering of Authority.”
Edgar Daylight & G. Primiero, “Category Mistakes in Computer Science.”
Mark Priestley, „The Origins of Programming Language Styles“.
5:00-6:30 Public talk by Campbell-Kelly, University of Warwick, „The Evolution of Programming Practice on the EDSAC: Insights from the National Museum of Computing Replica Project“ followed by discussion.

7:00 Dinner, Restaurant Münzwerk.Morleystr. 4, 57072 Siegen.

Sunday June 12:
9:00-11:00: Works in Progress Session

Tristan Thielmann, Siegen University, „Appresenting Digits: The ENIAC Display“
Pierre Mounier Kuhn, CNRS & Paris-Sorbonne, „Programming CUBA: The evolution from ‚coding‘ to ‚language‘ on the first French computer (1949-1955)“
Thomas Haigh & Mark Priestley, „What Was Colossus, and Why Should We Care?“
Matti Tedre, Stockholm University, title TBA
11:30-1:00: Round table: Computing and the History of Science

Edgar Daylight
Maarten Bullynck, SPHERE, Paris 8
Ksenia Tatarchenko, Geneva University
1:00 to 2:30: Lunch, Wirtshaus am Oberen Schloss. Oberes Schloss 1, DE-57072 Siegen.

Informal post-lunch discussion of possible follow-up activities for those who can stay longer.


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