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Computer History


Either a new genre of historical writing has taken shape before our eyes, or it’s been there for a while and we’re just beginning to discover it. In either case, it’s recent (is up to future practitioners of this emerging field to trace its roots), and is clearly thriving. Let’s call it for lack of a better term “Computer History”. And while the moniker sounds trivial, one only needs to peruse it to understand that something new is in the making. At its best, the genre is a combination of institutional ethnography, micro-history, oral history, and the history of technology. And in the hands of its most ambitious practitioners, the history of software is an offshoot of the history of science and intellectual history. The two computer historians I’ve been reading recently, with a mix of awe an excitement, are Sinclair Target, whose articles are published in his blog Two-Bit History and the persons that to my untrained eye seems the doyen of this emerging field: Jimmy Maher. Since 2011, Maher has been publishing a seemingly endless streams of software history, particularly video-games, in his blog The Digital Antiquarian. The name couldn’t be more apt, and it happens to mix to things my few readers (2) will know I love: video games and antiquarianism.