Validity and Correctness in LEO I and II

Abstract of the presentation at the roundtable What is a (computer) program? at the prelaunch of the project PROGRAMme in Paris, at the CNAM – Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, on the 20th of October 2017.

The presentation is an historical reconstruction of the procedures to ensure validity and program correctness in the early examples of business computers: the focus of the talk is the hardware testing, data validation and program correctness techniques designed for LEO I and II in the UK during the 1950s. Continue reading “Validity and Correctness in LEO I and II”

Reflections on Identity and Copy of Programs

Abstract of the presentation at the roundtable `What is a (computer) program?’ at the prelaunch of the project PROGRAMme in Paris, at the CNAM – Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, on the 20th of October 2017.

The problem of identity is a long-standing one in philosophy. In turn, it is a crucial one for the Philosophy of Computer Science, and in particular for answering the question ‘what is a program?’. Two major strands in the history of such conceptual investigation can be found. Continue reading “Reflections on Identity and Copy of Programs”

Coping with the “American giants”

Abstract of the paper presented at the 4th HaPoC – History and Philosophy of Computing conference in Brno, 3-7 October 2017.

Coping with the “American giants”: mergers, relationships and attempted partnerships in the European computer industry in the early Sixties

During the 1950s, a fragmented computer industry grew up in Europe. After the enthusiasm and pioneering in a brand new business like computers, at the beginning of the 1960s these companies were weakened by several issues, such as the financial crisis and the pressure of  US competitors like IBM and General Electric. The investments in R&D  were not fully refunded by the income from machines sales after several years. The growth of a computer company, in fact, was often doomed by these costs and very often also by lack of proper marketing experience in a totally brand new field. Continue reading “Coping with the “American giants””

CfP HaPoP4

Fourth Symposium on the History and Philosophy of Programming
https://www.shift-society.org/hapop4/

23 March 2018, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, UK
Colocated with BSHM Meeting on History of Computing, 22 March 2018
Organised by Commission for the History and Philosophy of Computing
www.hapoc.org

Submission of two-page extended abstracts (including footnotes, but excluding references) are invited. Accepted papers will be given a 30 minute presentation slot including discussion. We intend to publish selected papers in a special journal issue following the symposium.

  • Submission deadline: 1 January 2018
  • Author notification: 2 February 2018
  • HaPoP symposium: 23 March 2018

In memory of Peter Bird

Peter-Bird
Peter Bird, a director of Lyons Computer Services, charted the food company’s pioneering introduction of computers. Source: The Guardian UK

Peter Bird worked for J. Lyons & Co. from 1964 to 1991. He published his book LEO: The First Business Computer in 1994 and later an extensive book about Lyons in 2000.
We met Peter Bird in October 2016 at his house in Wokingham. We had a productive day, discussing about his books on Lyons and LEO. A day full of hints and suggestions, going through his collection of photos of LEO people and machines. Peter passed away on the 16th August 2017. Continue reading “In memory of Peter Bird”

Communications of the ACM reports about HaPoC Commission

ACM

Philosophy, like other disciplines in the humanities, enjoys a mutually enlightening relationship with history […] The philosophy of computer science, like other philosophy devoted to a particular subject, enjoys a mutually enlightening relationship with the history of that particular subject […] I have been pleasantly surprised to find research in the history of computing quite interesting, and can only hope for reciprocal generosity toward philosophy on the part of historians. With respect to computing, the international organization founded to bring together history and philosophy is HaPoC, the Commission on the History and Philosophy of Computing. Designated a Commission by both divisions of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (http://www.iuhpst.org), it aims to “enhance our understanding of computing by means of historical and philosophical explorations.” The dedicated and hard-working HaPoC leaders Liesbeth de Mol, of the Université de Lille, and Giuseppe Primiero, of Middlesex University London, explain how this came about.

Hosted by Robin K. Hill on the blog of Communications of the ACM , read the full article on HaPoC by Liesbeth de Mol and Giuseppe Primiero