Christie's auction and other computer history events

From: William Donzelli <>
Date: Thu Feb 17 20:35:35 2005

> Unfortunately, yes! For example, someone who knows better --
> relegates most of the British computing development to an appendix
> in hos book is the oft-quoted THE COMPUTER FROM PASCAL TO VON
> NEUMANN by Goldstine. He vastly downplays the british work, like
> EDSAC etc. He does mention it, but almost in passing.

Well, I guess it does happen, although most people I know don't really see
it that way. On the flip side, it really bugs me how many give the lion's
share of radar (and electronic innovation) invention in World War 2 to the
British. I suppose it is the "history written by the victors" effect.
> Herb Grosch makes one interesting observation here: in the U.S.
> there is great freedom to move from university, to business, to
> government (good for business, turns out bad for citizens, but
> that's another story :-) whereas in France, for instance, there is
> little mobility from business to university, similar in Britain.
> Natives correct me if I'm wrong :-)

That is a very good point.
> Having recently been bombed into rubble may have had some
> influence... and the U.S. industry in the opposite state... ahem.

But it wasn't "recently". By 1960, when computers were really starting to
make serious inroads into business, most of Western Europe was well back
on it feet. Remember that after the war, the Allies set up programs to aid
in the reconstruction of the Axis industrial base (something that the
Japanese used very well in consumer electronics).

A previous poster mention IBM being the driving force. I don't think
so. According to the MIT book, in the late 1950s, when IBM was not yet the
dominant figure in the computer business (in the US, anyway, it was
still a free for all until 1960 or so), they did
manage to really roll over everyone in Europe. Why did IBM gain this
dominance in Europe a few years before they gained it in the US? What was
the difference? That is perhaps my question.

William Donzelli
Received on Thu Feb 17 2005 - 20:35:35 GMT

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