History of Computing


Ed Lazowska, UW Computer Science & Engineering
Steve Maurer, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
Geoff Voelker, UCSD Computer Science & Engineering


"You Be The Expert"


As an assignment to be carried out at some point during the term, each student is expected to become an expert on some topic that will be covered in lecture, and drive the discussion on that topic.


Necessarily, each topic will have multiple students serving in this “expert” role.  You can work as individuals, or form several small teams.  (We’ve created a Wiki page where students can register the topic in which they’re interested and form teams if desired.)


Your duties will include:


·        Read beyond the basic material on the course syllabus.

·        By 6:30 p.m. on the Monday preceding the relevant course session, email the TA and all 3 instructors a one-page list of issues/questions.  You should strive to tease out why, exactly, things unfolded as they did.  What are the implications?  (We are interested not only in how the history of computing unfolded, but also in whatever lessons we can draw for the future.)  We’ll attempt to get you feedback prior to class.

·        Interact with the speaker.  The Internet conferencing format makes it a bit hard to interrupt and interact, so we’ll also try to reserve some time each evening for interaction.  (Remember that the goal is to intelligently guide and learn from the speaker, not just to have your voice heard!)

·        Lead the Wiki discussion on the topic following the lecture.

·        Within a week (by 6:30 p.m. on the next Wednesday), email to the TA and all 3 instructors a writeup of between 2 and 5 pages describing what you’ve learned; this will be linked from the Wiki.


Please note:  The fact that we will have “assigned experts” for each topic does not excuse others from reading the background material on the course syllabus, participating during class, and contributing to the Wiki discussion! We expect every student to do these things for every class session.


Example topics you could choose:  Be imaginative; don’t feel constrained to the topic titles on the syllabus; you can extract a reasonable sub-topic from a module of the course.


·        Pre-electronic computing

·        Early electronic computing

·        WW II computing

·        Computing from the end of WW II to the dawn of System/360

·        System/360

·        Minicomputers

·        Xerox PARC

·        ARPANET/Internet

·        Early PCs – Altair, TRS-80, Apple 1, Apple 2

·        Lisa/Mac

·        Microsoft

·        Early PC applications – spreadsheets, etc.

·        Open source software

·        Antitrust

·        High performance computing

·        Collaboration software

·        Many other possibilities


We would like some folks to get moving and do early course sessions!  Not the first, obviously, but ideally the second, and certainly the third.  Bonus points!  Get cracking!  Send email to Kate Deibel, our TA.