ACM History Committee
Current and Past Winners of ACM History Fellowship


Current and Past Winners of ACM History Fellowship
2014 Winner

Rebecca Slayton, a lecturer in Stanford's Public Policy Program for a project on "Measuring Security: ACM and the History of Computer Security Metrics".

Abstract:

The project will show how ACM conferences, publications, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs) shaped the development of computer security from the mid-1960s through the early 1990s. It is part of a broader project which uses the history of computer security metrics to examine changing concepts and methods in computer security. This project is guided by several key questions. What distinctive roles did ACM's special interest groups (SIGs) play in the development of different kinds of computer security metrics? What role did ACM play in government efforts to quantify computer security? And how did metrics designers balance the need for human judgement with the need for automated, rigorous processes?


Project Results:
  • "Quantifying Security: Product Evaluations, Risk Assessment, and the Automation of Judgment" workshop paper to Computer Security History Workshop (Charles Babbage Institute 2014), to be submitted to a special issue of IEEE Annals of the History of Computing



2013 Winners

Sarah A. Bell, doctoral student in Communication at the University of Utah for a project on "Evans & Sutherland: Mentoring SIGGRAPH's Pioneers."

Abstract:

Early computer graphics research at the University of Utah is widely acknowledged as having been central to the growth of the CGI field and early conferences of the ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) was a key outlet for sharing this research. Focusing on the period of Utah's ARPA grant for studying Graphical Man-Machine Communication (1966-1971), this study will draw from manuscript collections, both new and extant oral histories, and early ACM and SIGGRAPH publications and conference proceedings in order to document the convergence of government funding, researcher collaboration, and technology transfer that were key to this Utah "moment." As part of a larger dissertation project on display technologies developed at Utah, this project for the ACM history committee investigates the role that David C. Evans, Ivan Sutherland, and their Evans & Sutherland computer corporation played in mentoring so many of the early computer graphics innovators whose key research was highlighted and disseminated through the first SIGGRAPH conferences. One-third of early SIGGRAPH technical papers now recognized as "seminal" were authored by Utah alumni, and some of the first pioneering computer animation to be shown at SIGGRAPH came out of the Utah program or was created on Evans & Sutherland Corp.'s Picture System line. Telling the story of this Utah zeitgeist is integral to telling the larger story of how computers evolved from calculating machines to media machines. An additional outcome of this project is increased online access to relevant documents for use by other researchers.



Amy Bix, Associate Professor, the History Department at Iowa State University for a project on "Informing the History of 'Celebrating, Informing, and Supporting Women in Computing': Studies of Gender in ACM and ACM-W."

Abstract:

This research will explore the recent history of women's interests and gender issues in the work of the Association for Computing Machinery, studying how ACM leaders and members began paying attention to gendered aspects of computer-science education and the profession. This ACM project represents a natural extension of her current work on women's history in science and technology work, with her forthcoming book Girls Coming to Tech detailing the history of women's engineering education. This ACM work will represent a focused case-study of how advocates mobilized deliberate efforts to encourage and support women's place in ACM and in the profession.


Project Results:


Irina Nikivincze, an Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at the Higher School of Economics in Saint Petersburg, for a project on "Making Science: Careers and Contributions of the First Doctoral Women in Computer Science."

Abstract:

During the growth and professionalization of computer science in 1960s and 1970s, the discipline increasingly became associated with masculine ideals; however, women computer scientists who entered the field were making advances. This study examines career patterns of the first doctoral women in the emerging field of computer science in the United States in the 1970s and their contributions to making computing a science. The studied group of women pioneers is a distinguished group of researchers who persisted in the field, had academic careers and became part of professional societies such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), but their work and their achievement remained largely invisible to the public. Using interviews and bibliometric data, the study will shed light on experiences of these women in academia: their careers, achievements, graduate training, choice of research area, integration into the community of science and their professional service to the ACM. Through recollections of these women pioneers we will learn about the growth and transformation of computer science and its community.


Project Results:
  • "Careers and achievements of the first women computer scientists, 1960-1980" working paper


Joseph November, an Associate Professor, Department of History at the University of South Carolina, for a project on "George Forsythe, the ACM, and the Creation of Computer Science."

Abstract:

George E. Forsythe is one of the least discussed yet most important shapers of the academic field of computer science. Indeed, many of the field's most distinct intellectual agendas and institutional structures follow a pattern established by Forsythe in the mid-1960s, when he founded Stanford University's Computer Science Department (1965) and used his position as President of the ACM (1964-1966) to promote his department as an exemplary model. Thus, beyond setting forth the specific characteristics of the growth of computer science worldwide Forsythe also shaped the role the ACM played in fostering the field's development. Investigating Forsythe's often bruising experiences at Stanford and the ACM will elucidate the highly contingent nature of the way computer science took form and would, I believe, go a long way towards enabling professional and popular historical writers to make better sense of the way academic computer scientists (and their research sponsors) interact with each other and the industry. While Forsythe laid out much of his vision for a "computer science" in his frequent contributions to Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, the circumstances -- particularly the hardships -- out which this vision grew are only lightly touched on in his published writing or by his eulogists. To access Forsythe's efforts to overcome the intellectual, institutional, and personal challenges associated with founding a new field, I will examine Stanford's extensive archival collections of his private correspondence and other unpublished writing; I will also interview surviving Stanford and ACM personnel who worked with him.



Andrew Russell, an Assistant Professor of History, College of Arts & Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology, for a project on "Quality Standards for Computing Education:A History of the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB)."

Abstract:

This project investigates the creation, development, and broad historical significance of the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB). The CSAB was created in 1984 with two member societies-the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society-and the goal to evaluate and establish model curricula and quality standards for computing degree programs at American colleges and universities. To accomplish this goal, the CSAB created an accreditation process through which programs could demonstrate their compliance with CSAB standards. Since the 1980s, the CSAB has reformed its accreditation processes and forged a formal partnership with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). My research project's initial objective is to build an extensive bibliography of existing materials that document the CSAB's work and to complement the existing materials with new oral history interviews. A second objective is to set the CSAB's accreditation work in broader social, political, and economic contexts. I will seek to relate the CSAB's history to questions such as: how did computer experts define the boundaries of their disciplines and their professional organizations? How did the CSAB convince educators that its accreditation processes were rigorous, legitimate, and trustworthy? Did CSAB accreditation translate to measurable economic benefits? Additional questions-which I hope the documentary record and oral histories would address-might probe the limits of the CSAB's success and listen for the perspectives of programs and individuals who resisted or contested CSAB's authority.


Project Results:



2012 Winners

Janet Abbate, Associate Professor, Science & Technology in Society, Culture, and Communication at Virginia Tech, for a project on "ACM's Curriculum Efforts of the 1960s and 1970s: Defining Computer Science".

Abstract:

The emergence of computer science as an academic discipline is a central but understudied topic in the history of computing. This project examines ACM's key role in defining the intellectual content of computer science through its model curricula. In 1962 ACM established a Curriculum Committee on Computer Science (C3S), which published Preliminary Recommendations for undergraduate education in 1965 and a full curriculum in 1968. The first major revision of the ACM curriculum, Curriculum '78, aimed to expand the discipline to smaller colleges and update its approach to the theory and practice of computer science. Curriculum '68 and '78 have been crucial tools for institution building, allowing departments to build stable degree programs and academic credentials to be compared across schools. In parallel with these activities, the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE), founded in 1969, became an important forum for educational experiments and debates. Using historical sources such as curriculum materials, committee records, interviews with key players, and SIGCSE publications, I explore how ACM's curriculum efforts helped to define computer science. Debates over what the curricula should include reveal how boundaries were drawn between computer science and other disciplines (such as math or engineering) and how some areas within computer science became seen as essential while other topics were cast as marginal or outdated. Studying the evolution of ACM's curricula will provide a window into the profession's evolving sense of its meaning and purpose.


Project Results:
  • "Old Disciplines and New Infrastructures: Constructing Computer Science in the 1960s" [SIGCIS 2013]


Bernadette Longo, New Jersey Institute of Technology, for a project on "Edmund Berkeley Biography".

Abstract:

This biography of Edmund Berkeley, one of the ACM founders, will illustrate how Berkeley's concepts of social responsibility underpinned his activities surrounding the founding of the ACM, thus exploring the social context giving rise to this seminal organization. In 1939, while Berkeley was at Prudential Insurance, he visited George Stibitz at Bell Labs and saw his early computer built with telephone relay switches. Berkeley determined that this fledgling digital computer could help people make better decisions through mechanized deductive reasoning based on symbolic logic, which he had studied as an undergraduate mathematics major at Harvard University. During World War II, Berkeley worked with Howard Aiken at his Harvard lab on the Mark II computer, which also employed relay switch technology. After the war Berkeley returned to Prudential Insurance as the head of a research lab there for implementing electronic computer technology to insurance data processing. In these early post-war years, Berkeley was active in East Coast computer development circles, He was in the thick of issues developers had with coordinating the fast-paced R&D work being done in the military and private corporations. The need for communication channels became apparent to coordinate these R&D efforts for efficient development of the technologies which would become critical to the US during the Cold War. It was out of these needs and efforts that Berkeley and seven of his colleagues formed the ACM in 1947. This watershed historical moment will become pivotal in Dr. Longo's biography of Edmund Berkeley being supported by this fellowship.



Jacob Gaboury, a PhD student in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, for a project on "Image Objects: A History of Computer Graphics".

Abstract:

This project investigates the early history of computer graphics and the role they play in the move toward new forms of simulation and object oriented design. Beginning in the 1960s there is a shift in the field of computer science from computation as procedural, end-driven, linear calculation, toward a kind of computation through simulation -- of simulating a world comprised of constructed objects that are capable of discrete forms of interaction. These objects are nameable, actionable, and visualizable, and are meant to replicate real world engagement with a knowable object world. While in the past computing had largely been concerned with the computation of information about the world, and in solving problems derived from the information taken from real world contexts, this shift marks a move to digitize the physical world, such that it can be made subject to a system of simulation from which we might derive new knowledge. Central to this transformation is the development of new forms of computer visualization and object modeling brought about by the development of computer graphics and its growth into a full-fledged technical industry. Ultimately it is my goal to draw connections between this field and the broader history of computing, and show the importance of computer graphics not only to the development of a visual language of computing, but to a transformation toward object oriented models of simulation.


Project Results:
  • "Image Objects: Computer Graphics at the University of Utah" Dissertation chapter, images
  • PhD dissertation New York University, Media, Culture, & Communication, 2014
  • "Hidden Surface Problems: On the Digital Image as Material Object." Journal of Visual Culture (London: Sage Publications) Spring 2015. (Forthcoming)


2011 Winners

Inna Kouper, an Instructor, School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University Bloomington, for a project on "history of ACM SIGWEB as a framework for a conceptual history of hypertext".

Abstract:

The project "The history of ACM SIGWEB as a framework for a conceptual history of hypertext" aims to research a conceptual history through the history of an institution and its members and explore how institutional memory can be preserved through conceptual history research. The project will investigate the history of hypertext as it has been envisioned, designed, created, and practiced by those who consider their work relevant to the activities of the ACM special interest group on hypertext, hypermedia, and the web (SIGWEB). Another important theme that will be explored in this study is the unique atmosphere of interdisciplinary inclusiveness that has always been part of the community of hypertext researchers. SIG WEB is one of the ACM SIG groups that intentionally incorporate works from computing /engineering fields and the social sciences / humanities into their communications. This project will bring together the themes of conceptual and institutional history and interdisciplinarity and offer the scholarly community a joint history of ACM SIGWEB and hypertext in an attempt to understand a connection between the two, promote interdisciplinarity in the studies of technologies and computing, and think about how writing a history can contribute to the organization of institutional archives.



Andrew L. Russell, an Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Letters at Stevens Institute of Technology, for a project on "European Contributions to Computer Networks: An Oral History Project".

Abstract:

This oral history project will document and publicize the career contributions of several European pioneers of computer networking. With very few exceptions, our existing histories of computer networking focus narrowly on the ARPANET and Internet, and frame the growth of these networks as a primarily American story. As a result, these histories undervalue the contributions of European researchers and their networking experiments -- such as the Cyclades network and the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model -- that were antecedents, alternatives, and competitors to the ARPANET and Internet. With the support of an ACM History Fellowship, this oral history project will begin with interviews of recipients of the ACM SIGCOMM Award for Lifetime Contribution, including Peter Kirstein and Louis Pouzin. These interviews will shed light on the ACM's important institutional role in disseminating knowledge and facilitating international collaboration during a phase of rapid development in computer networking during the 1970s and 1980s. These interviews also will enrich our understanding of the particular cultural, political, and economic contexts of Europe in the 1970s and 1980s that shaped - and in some cases limited - the development of international computer networks.


Project Results:
  • "Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks" (Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  • "In the Shadow of Arpanet and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s," Technology & Culture (October 2014), co-authored with Valerie Schafer
  • ACM History Blog: "Oral History Interviews with Pouzin and Other European Pioneers of Computer Networking"
  • "Histories of Networking vs. The History of the Internet" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Ksenia Tatarchenko, a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Science Program at Princeton University, for a project on "Computer Science from Silicon Valley to Golden Valley".

Abstract:

The Soviet computer pioneer, Andrei Ershov, first applied for an ACM membership in May, 1965, during his visit to the United States on the occasion of the congress organized by the International Federation for Information Processing in New York. After the congress, Ershov was invited on a tour of the West Coast computing centers. The blue and yellow membership card and the itinerary of the visit itself were tokens of the personal and professional relationship connecting the Soviet computer scientist to the American computing community. The chapter 3 of my dissertation, "Computer Science from Silicon Valley to Golden Valley," will situate the 1965 visit, and the media scandal that accompanied it, in the context of a continuity of Soviet-American contacts and, more generally, international circulation of knowledge in the field of computing during the 1950s-60s. The goal of this chapter is not only to provide evidence of the inadequacy of the typical isolationist description of the Soviet computing, but to ask the following questions as well: How did knowledge production a new field such as computing achieve its status of an international scientific discipline? What was the interplay between national and international dimensions of the emerging discipline born in the Cold War context? How did national and disciplinary agendas intersect in scientists' roles as cultural diplomats?


Project Results:
  • PhD dissertation "A House with the Window to the West: The Akademgorodok Computer Center (1958-1993)" (Princeton 2013) dissertation precis ; dissertation complete
  • "A Plan for the Soviet Future: Programming, the Second Literacy" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.



2010 Winners

Lars Heide, an Associate Professor at the Centre for Business History, Copenhagen Business School, for a project on "ACM as an Institutional Intermediary between the Innovators, Producers, and Users in Automating America".

Abstract:

This project studies ACM's essential role as a key institutional intermediary in the shaping of mainframe computers in the United States between the 1940s and the 1970s. So far history of computing has focused innovators and producers of computers and recently users as well. The study of ACM is an essential element in the fellow's book project, "Automating America: Shaping Mainframe Computer Industry and Machine Tool Industry in the United States, 1945 - 1975". In this project, the fellow analyzes how the shaping of mainframe computers and numeric control grew out of a complex set of revolutionary and incremental innovations by individuals acting in networks of companies, research institutions, civilian and military government agencies, and intermediaries. This will produce a new history that will include contributions by individuals in this broad set of organizations.


Project Results:
  • "Opening the Innovation Systems Black Box" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • "Association for Computing Machinery as an institutional intermediary between the innovators, producers, and users in shaping mainframe computers" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in November 2011 in Cleveland, OH.


Kenneth Lipartito, Chair and Professor of History, Florida International University, for a project on "The Information Revolution and the First Privacy Debates, 1950-1980".

Abstract:

This project is on a history of surveillance. Surveillance is what today is often called "data surveillance," or the tracking of people through information. With focus on the information practices of the private sector, this research examines the history of credit reporting and credit management, insurance underwriting, labor management, and consumer research, though it also engages the methods of social surveying used by the state and nongovernmental organizations. Surveillance practices in the marketplace emerged in the 1840s. Over the next century, they grew to permit businesses to construct detailed portraits of people as customers, borrowers, clients and workers. Thus, surveillance by information is linked to economic growth and customization of products and services characteristic of advanced economies. But the spread of information about people in the marketplace has also raised fears about privacy. How much the state may legitimately know about citizens is a long standing question in democratic societies. How much private institutions may know is asked less frequently, which this work seeks to change by studying the privacy and computer debates of the post World War II years. In this way, this work provides a deeper historical perspective on issues that are much debated today, but without adequate context.

Project Results:


Andrew Meade McGee, a Ph.D. student at Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia, for his project entitled "Creating the Federal Computing Complex: The ACM and the Development of Washington's Government Computer Community."

Abstract:

This project aims to complete archival research for a work-in-progress titled "Creating the Federal Computing Complex: The ACM and the Development of Washington's Government Computer Community," a project that traces the origins and growth of data processing in federal civilian agencies in the decades following World War II, with the intent of understanding how new methods of collecting and managing information with computers changed the national domestic policymaking process. Researching the institutional activities of the ACM's Washington chapter, the outreach of the national ACM to federal employees and agencies, and the society publications and conference preceding that discuss the role and development of computing in government work and policymaking are at the core of my project's agenda.

Project Results:
  • Conference Paper: "Big Red, White, and Blue: Communities of Policy and Computing in Mainframe-era Washington, DC" SHOT SIGCIS 2011 Workshop.
  • Article: "Stating the Field: Institutions and Outcomes in Computer History," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 34 no. 1 (2012)



2009 Winners

Bernard Geoghegan, a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University and Bauhaus University - Weimar, for a specific project on "Staging the ACM Chess Championships" which will draw on archival materials presently in private hands. Geoghegan plans a journal article from this research as well as a museum exhibit.

Abstract:

With the support of an ACM History Fellowship Bernard Geoghegan, a duel-degree doctoral candidate in Screen Cultures (Northwestern University, USA) and medienwissenschaft (Bahaus University, Germany), will prepare the detailed historical account of the ACM Chess Champions. The problem of designing a machine to play chess has fascinated scientists, philosophers, artists and engineers since the 18th century. However, it was not until the initiation of the ACM Chess Championships that chess playing machines became a topic of concerted scientific inquiry and experimentation. Since the first competition, organized by Dr. Monty Newborn and held in New York in 1970, the Chess Competitions have provided an annual forum for leading researchers and laboratories to exchange findings while staging dramatic duels among their chess-playing computers. These events consistently attracted attention from the popular press as well, providing an important occasion for the wider public to learn about computing and participate in debates over human-computer interaction. propose to prepare the first historical and archive-based account of the ACM Chess Competitions. With the support of the ACM, Geoghegan will to investigate how the conferences facilitated the emergence of a number of characteristically "scientific" practices around chess playing machines, including experimentation, exhibition, witnessing, the circulation of research and artifacts, and the cultivation of shared references and techniques.


Project Results:
  • "The Cybernetic Apparatus: Media, Liberalism, and the Reform of the Human Sciences." (Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University and Bauhaus University of Weimar, 2012)
  • "Programming as a Cultural Technique" course syllabus examines Turing and Shannon on chess playing.
  • "Claude Levi-Strauss and the Technologies of Man: Cybernetic Reasoning and the Reform of the Human Sciences" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in October 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • A keynote speak "Cybernetic Automata and the Deferred Image of Thought" at research symposium on Cybernetics: From the ontological theatre to the environmental crisis.


Irina Nikiforova (aka Nikivincze), a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech's School of History, Technology and Society, was awarded ACM fellowship for her dissertation project entitled "ACM, Turing Prize Scientists, and their Web of Affiliations." Nikiforova examined archival materials held at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, and the Charles Babbage Institute concerning the ACM and the Turing Award.

Abstract:

Computing is a strategic research area as it is at the center of the relation of science and technology. This project is part of the research for a Ph.D. dissertation that examines a group of distinguished computer scientists-recipients of the Turing Prize (1966-2008), and their paths to contribution and recognition in computer science. This research relies on biographical accounts and archival documents. The study examines the achievements of scientists, their career paths (organizations, publications, honors) and professional affiliations (professional associations and peer networks). The dissertation aims to understand (1) the path such scientists have taken to make their contributions, (2) the range and the types of contributions that are recognized by ACM. With the ACM support the project will investigate the relationship (membership, activities, role within ACM, reception of the award) between Turing Prize winners and the ACM.


Project Results:
  • "Turing Award scientists: Contribution and recognition in computer science" (Ph.D. dissertation, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2012) [online here]
  • A paper "ACM and Turing Prize Scientists: defining the art and science of computing, 1947-2008" presented at the Society for the History of Technology's Annual Meeting (SHOT) in November 2011 in Cleveland, OH.
  • A dissertation chapter "The Formation, History, And Nature Of The Field Of Computing", which examined the role of the ACM and Turing Prize scientists in development of the field of computing.
  • A dissertation chapter "Award-Winning Contributions", which described the effort of Turing Prize winners and the ACM in constructing the prize and defining prize-worthy contributions.
  • A paper "Social Construction Of The Turing Prize" presented at the Social Studies of Science conference in 2010.