Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers, and Computers During the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research (Hardcover)

Atsushi Akera

  • 出版商: MIT
  • 出版日期: 2006-11-01
  • 售價: $1,240
  • 語言: 英文
  • 頁數: 408
  • 裝訂: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 0262012316
  • ISBN-13: 9780262012317
  • 相關分類: Computer-Science
  • 立即出貨(限量) (庫存=3)



During the Cold War, the field of computing advanced rapidly within a complex institutional context. In Calculating a Natural World, Atsushi Akera describes the complicated interplay of academic, commercial, and government and military interests that produced a burst of scientific discovery and technological innovation in 1940s and 1950s America. This was the era of big machines--the computers that made the reputations of IBM and of many academic laboratories--and Akera uses the computer as a historical window on the emerging infrastructure of American scientific and engineering research. The military-industrial complex is often spoken of as a coherent and unified power, but Akera argues that it was the tensions as much as the convergences among military, business, and academic forces that fueled scientific and technological advances.

Akera's study is unique in its integration of a history of postwar computing--usually told in terms of either business or hardware--and a mapping of an "ecology of knowledge" represented by the emerging institutional infrastructure for computing. For example, Akera sees John Mauchly's early work on computers as a product of his peripatetic career--his journey through different institutional ecologies--and John von Neumann's work as emerging from the convergence of physics and applied mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study. Akera also looks at the ways in which the institutional contexts of the National Bureau of Standards and MIT's Project Whirlwind pulled research in diverging directions, and he examines IBM's dominance from the perspectives of both business and users. Finally, Akera compares the academic computing centers at MIT and the University of Michigan, tracing the tensions on those campuses over whether computers were a service facility, a commercial technology, or a subject of research.

Atsushi Akera is Assistant Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 


Table of Contents

 Preface vii
 Introduction 1
1. An Ecology of Knowledge
Technical and Institutional Developments in Computing, 1900-1945 25
2. Biography and the Circulation of Knowledge
John Mauchly and the Origins of Electronic Computing 67
3. From Ecology to Network
John von Neumann and Postwar Negotiations over Computer-Development Research 107
4. Knowledge and Organization
Redefining Computer-Development Research at the National Bureau of Standards 151
5. Research and Rhetoric
Jay Forrester and Federal Sponsorship of Academic Research 181
6. Institutions and Border Crossings
Cuthbert Hurd and His Applied Science Field Men 223
7. Voluntarism and Occupational Identity
The IBM Users’ Group, Share 249
8. Research and Education
The Academic Computing Centers at MIT and the University of Michigan 277
9. Discipline and Service
Research on Computer Time Sharing at MIT and the University of Michigan 313
 Conclusion 337
 Notes 351
 References 399
 Series List 413
 Index 417



在冷戰期間,計算機領域在一個複雜的制度背景下迅速發展。在《計算自然世界》一書中,Atsushi Akera描述了學術、商業、政府和軍事利益之間的複雜相互作用,這些相互作用在1940年代和1950年代的美國產生了科學發現和技術創新的爆發。這是大型機器的時代 - 這些計算機使IBM和許多學術實驗室聲名大噪 - Akera利用計算機作為一個歷史窗口,觀察美國科學和工程研究新興基礎設施的發展。軍事工業複合體通常被認為是一個一致而統一的力量,但Akera認為,正是軍事、商業和學術力量之間的張力,而不僅僅是它們的匯聚,推動了科學和技術的進步。

Akera的研究在於整合戰後計算機的歷史 - 通常以商業或硬體的角度來講述 - 和計算機新興制度基礎設施所代表的「知識生態系」的映射。例如,Akera將約翰·莫奇利(John Mauchly)早期的計算機工作視為他流動的職業生涯的產物 - 他在不同的制度生態中的旅程 - 而約翰·馮·諾伊曼(John von Neumann)的工作則源於物理學和應用數學在高等研究院的匯聚。Akera還探討了國家標準局和麻省理工學院旋風計劃的制度背景如何將研究引向不同的方向,並從商業和用戶的角度檢視IBM的主導地位。最後,Akera比較了麻省理工學院和密歇根大學的學術計算中心,追蹤了這些校園對於計算機是服務設施、商業技術還是研究主題的張力。

Atsushi Akera是Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute科學與技術研究系的助理教授。


1. 知識生態系
2. 傳記與知識流通
3. 從生態到網絡
4. 知識與組織
5. 研究與修辭
6. 制度與邊界交叉
7. 志願主義和職業身份
8. 研究與教育
9. 學科與服務