Film viewings are linked to Web sites for further information when available.

1 Introduction
Course Overview


"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968). Directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick (excerpt).

2 Issues in the History of Computing

Buy at Amazon Edwards, Paul N. "From 'Impact' to Social Process: Computers in Society and Culture." Chapter 12 in Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Edited by Sheila Jasanoff. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1994. ISBN: 9780803940215.

Mahoney, Michael S. "The History of Computing in the History of Technology." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 10 (1988): 113-125.

Kling, Rob. "Reading 'All About' Computerization: How Genre Conventions Shape Non-Fiction Social Analysis." The Information Society 10, no. 3 (1994): 147-172.

3 Computers in Nuclear Physics: ENIAC and the Hydrogen Bomb

Buy at Amazon Galison, Peter. "Monte Carlo Simulations: Artificial Reality." Chapter 8 in Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics. Chicago, IL and London, UK: University of Chicago Press, 1997, pp. 689-780. ISBN: 9780226279176.

Kowarski, L. "The Impact of Computers on Nuclear Science." In Computing As a Language of Physics. Edited by International Center for Theoretical Physics. Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency, 1972, pp. 27-37. LCCN: 73155630.


"Giant Brains" (1992). Written, produced and directed by Fiona Holmes.

4 Computers in Meteorology: Simulating the World

Buy at Amazon Edwards, Paul N. "The World in a Machine: Origins and Impacts of Early Computerized Global Systems Models." In Systems, Experts, and Computers. Edited by Thomas P. Hughes, and Agatha C. Hughes. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000, pp. 221-254. ISBN: 9780262082853.

———. "Global Climate Science, Uncertainty and Politics: Data-laden Models, Model-Filtered Data." Science as Culture 8, no. 4 (1999): 437-472.


"Inventing the Future" (1992). Written, produced and directed by Nancy Linde.

5 Computers in Mathematics: The Logic Theorist and the Automation of Proof

MacKenzie, Donald. "The Automation of Proof: A Historical and Sociological Exploration." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 17, no. 3 (Fall 1995): 7-29.

———. "Slaying the Kraken: The Sociohistory of a Mathematical Proof." Social Studies of Science 29, no. 1 (February 1990): 7-60.

Simon, Herbert A. "Climbing the Mountain: Artificial Intelligence Achieved." Chapter 13 in Models of My Life. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1991, pp. 198-214. ISBN: 0456046401.


"The Paperback Computer" (1992). Written, produced and directed by Jon Palfreman and Robert Hone.

6 Computers in Cognitive Psychology: GPS and Psychological Theory

Buy at Amazon Edwards, Paul N. "Constructing Artificial Intelligence." Chapter 8 in The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 239-273. ISBN: 9780262050517.

Newell, Allen, and Herbert A. Simon. "Computer Simulation of Human Thinking." Science 134, no. 3495 (22 December 1961): 2011-2017.

Newell, Allen. "Remarks on the Relationship Between Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Psychology." In Theoretical Approaches to Non-numerical Problem Solving. Edited by R. B. Banerji, and M. D. Mesarovic. Berlin, and New York: Springer-Verlag, 1970, pp. 363-378 (excerpt). LCCN: 79121996.

Frijda, Nico H. "Problems of Computer Simulation." Behavioral Science 12 (1967): 59-67.

Buy at Amazon Weizenbaum, Joseph. "Computer Models in Psychology." Chapter 6 in Computer Power and Human Reason. New York: Penguin Books, 1984, pp. 154-181. ISBN: 9780140225358.


"The Thinking Machine" (1992). Written, produced and directed by Jon Palfreman (Part I).

7 Computers in Biochemistry: DENDRAL and Knowledge Engineering

Buy at Amazon Lenoir, Timothy. "Shaping Biomedicine as an Information Science." In Proceedings of the 1998 Conference on the History and Heritage of Science Information Systems. Edited by Mary Ellen Bowden, Trudi Bellardo Hahn, and Robert V. Williams. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 1999, pp. 27-45. ISBN: 9781573870801.

Lederberg, Joshua. "How DENDRAL Was Conceived and Born." In Proceedings of ACM Conference on the History of Medical Informatics. New York, NY: ACM, 1987, pp. 5-19. ISBN: 0897912489.

Lindsay, Robert K., Bruce G. Buchanan, and Edward A. Feigenbaum. "DENDRAL: A Case Study of the First Expert System for Scientific Hypothesis Formation." Artificial Intelligence 61 (1993): 209-261 (skim).

Buy at Amazon Lederberg, Joshua. "Afterword: The Anti-Expert System — Thirteen Hypotheses an AI Program Should Have Seen Through." In Artificial Intelligence and Molecular Biology. Edited by Lawrence Hunter. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993, pp. 459-463. ISBN: 9780262581158.

Browse a collection of documents on DENDRAL.


"The Thinking Machine" (Part II).

8 Computers in Aerospace: The Apollo Guidance Computer

Buy at Amazon Ceruzzi, Paul E. Chapter 6, "Minuteman, Apollo, and the Chip", chapter 8, "Advances in Simulation, Testing, and Control", chapter 9, "Software." In Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780262530828.

Hall, Eldon C. "From the Farm to Pioneering with Digital Control Computers: An Autobiography." IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 22 (April-June 2000): 22-31.

Hoag, David G. "The History of Apollo On-Board Guidance, Navigation, and Control." The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, P-357, September 1976, pp. 28.

Browse a collection of documents on the Apollo Guidance Computer.

9 Computers in the Laboratory: The LINC Between the Designer and the User

Rosenfeld, Samuel A. "Laboratory Instrument Computer (LINC): The Genesis of a Technological Revolution. " Seminar in Celebration of the Twentieth Anniversary of the LINC Computer, November 30, 1983.

Clark, Wesley. "The LINC was Early and Small." In Proceedings of ACM Conference on the History of Medical Informatics. New York, NY: ACM, 1987, pp. 51-73. ISBN: 0897912489.

Cox, Jerome R. "Recollections on the Processing of Biomedical Signals." In Proceedings of ACM Conference on the History of Medical Informatics. New York, NY: ACM, 1987, pp. 95-103. ISBN: 0897912489.

Special Events

Guest lecture by Joseph A. November (Princeton University).

Visit to the MIT Museum.

10 Computers in Medicine: MYCIN and the Formalization of Expertise

Forsythe, Diana E. "Engineering Knowledge: The Construction of Knowledge in Artificial Intelligence." Social Studies of Science 23 (1993): 445-477.

Buy at Amazon Forsythe, Diana E. "Blaming the User in Medical Informatics: The Cultural Nature of Scientific Practice." In Studying Those Who Study Us: An Anthropologist in the World of Artificial Intelligence. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001, pp. 1-15. ISBN: 9780804742030.

Duda, Richard O., and Edward H. Shortliffe. "Expert Systems Research." Science 220, no. 4594 (April 15, 1983): 261-268.

Browse a collection of documents on MYCIN.


"The World at Your Fingertips" (1992). Written, produced and directed by Jon Palfreman and Robert Hone.

11 Supercomputing at Home: A Social Experiment in Distributed Computing

Ross-Flanigan, Nancy. "The Virtues (and Vices) of Virtual Colleagues." Technology Review (March-April 1998): 52-59.

Waldrop, M. Mitchell. "Grid Computing." Technology Review (May 2002): 31-37.

Johnson, George. "Supercomputing '@Home' Is Paying Off." The New York Times (23 April 2003): F1.

Web Sites





"Bill Gates" (1996). A&E's Biography.

12 Computers in Linguistics: Lost in Machine Translation

Buy at Amazon Hutchins, W. John. Chapter 2, "Precursors and Pioneers"; chapter 8, "Expectations and Criticisms"; chapter 19, "Present Developments and Some Future Prospects." In Machine Translation: Past, Present, Future. Chichester, UK: Ellis Horwood, 1986. ISBN: 9780853127888.

Buy at Amazon Weizenbaum, Joseph. "The Computer and Natural Language." Chap. 7 in Computer Power and Human Reason. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1984, pp. 182-201. ISBN: 9780140225358.

Erard, Michael. "Translation in the Age of Terror." Technology Review (March 2004): 54-60.

Web Sites

Free online translation (compare different translation programs)

ELIZA emulator


"Hackers" (2001). Produced and directed by Neil Docherty.

13 Computers in the Humanities: Hype, Text, and Hypertext

van Dam, Andries. "Hypertext '87: Keynote Address." Communications of the ACM 31, no. 7 (July 1988): 887-895.

Beeman, Wiliam O., et al. "Hypertext and Pluralism: From Lineal to Non-lineal Thinking." Proceeding of the ACM Conference on Hypertext. New York: ACM Press, 1989, pp. 67-88. ISBN: 089791340X.

Raskin, Jef. "The Hype in Hypertext: A Critique." Proceeding of the ACM Conference on Hypertext. New York: ACM Press, 1989, pp. 325-330. ISBN: 089791340X.

Ruhleder, Karen. "Reconstructing Artifacts, Reconstructing Work: From Textual Edition to On-Line Databank." Science, Technology, and Human Values 20, no. 1 (Winter 1995): 39-64.

Crane, Gregory, et al. "The Symbiosis Between Content and Technology in the Perseus Digital Library. " Culture Interactive, no. 2 (October 2000).

Web Site

Perseus Digital Library


"Desk Set" (1957). Directed by Walter Lang (excerpt).

14 Final Paper Presentations