About Us

The IT History Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of knowledge about the people, products, and companies that together comprise the field of computing.

Since 1978 our organization, and its hundreds of members, have worked toward this goal, and we invite you to contribute your own knowledge and memories on this website! (read more)

The History of Enterprise Software

Software Advice, an online reviewer of ERP software , has published a four-part series on the history of enterprise software. In the series, Lara Zuehlke, Managing Editor at Software Advice, investigates how computing hardware and software evolved from punched cards all the way to the Internet and social applications. Here’s a link to each of the four parts, with a...

After 30 years, is the IBM PC reign ending?

Thirty years ago, the International Business Machines company introduced its first general-purpose personal computer, the 5150. (The IBM 5100 and DisplayWriter were also personal computing devices, but most people don’t count them as a first.) Although I have written about August 1981, I would have forgotten about the anniversary except my friend Tom Pfaeffle linked a BBC article on his...

Happy birthday, Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the 1911 formation of the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation through the merger of the International Time Recording Company, the Computing Scale Company and the Tabulating Machine Company. We probably wouldn’t care, except that in 1914 CTR appointed Thomas J. Watson, Sr. as its general manager. A decade later, the company renamed itself the “International...

Mainframe History and the First Users' Groups (SHARE)

“Programming” (and programming support) was an old data processing concept that originally was broadly defined as the adaptation of general-purpose devices to specific tasks. Programming therefore goes back to Herman Hollerith wiring and rewiring (programming) his equipment to handle specific jobs. By the early 1930s IBM was distributing information about novel (for the time) plugboard wiring diagrams to customers via...

Where exactly is the "cloud"?

You have probably heard the news about the failure of Amazon's Cloud computing services, in spite of their claim that it was geographically dispersed, redundant, etc. This is a relatively new phenomenon, but Martin Campbell-Kelly discussed its early genesis in his chapter in our book The Internet & American Business (Aspray & Ceruzzi, 2008) (shameless plug). Anyway, I did some...

How Does a Company Make it to 100? The Short History.

We all know very few organizations do live to the age of 100, especially corporations. Those that do obviously tend to get more things right than wrong, and the market rewards them for their behavior. Luck and circumstances are important factors, but increasingly historians observe corporate culture and behavior are too. So putting my historian’s hat on, here is my...

The Mainframe: A Living History

This month is the 47th anniversary of IBM's introduction of the System/360. In other words, the birthday of the modern mainframe architecture as a computing platform. They say that one common flaw with mankind is a failure to learn from our history. Ask any mainframer what is one thing that they take a lot of professional pride in and it’s...

Remembering Paul Baran

There are many measures of success; wealth, power and fame are the most common. Paul Baran’s successes have been well documented, both prior to and since his recent passing. After reading many of the tributes and technical accomplishments, what struck me most was the societal impact of his body of work over time which I think, is a more important...

End of an Era

I was going to title this post "The End of Moore's Law," but that would not be quite right. What is happening is that increases in processor speeds have slowed or even stopped. Without faster processors, it is hard to take advantage of increases in memory capacity. Here is the reference to the National Research Council's preliminary report. Initially I...

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