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INDUSTRIES: Business History of Information Technology
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1930-1957: Machine Accounting Era: increased government tax regulations required documentation of financial transactions; explosive demand for calculating devices; organizations hired more administrators, analysts, and accountants.

1957-1963: Mechanization Cycle: growth in demand for data-processing devices, stored-program computers; corporations created datacenters at corporate headquarters to handle large amounts of detailed data from local operations; control over mechanization of financial records expanded power of financial executives over production and marketing, especially as means to reduce costs; tabulating installations became data-processing departments (under supervision of data-processing manager).

1963-1969: Datacenter Cycle: central mainframes and finance-department dominance; demand for computers expanded faster than manufacturing capacity that produced them; mainframe technology took hold; IBM formed relationships with financial executives - maintained price protection umbrella over all equipment costs (negotiation of delivery schedules and technical support, not costs or budgets); expenses for information technologies did not require much justification, especially as  data-processing function remained under office of chief financial officer; Burroughs, Digital Equipment Corporation, Honeywell-Bull, IBM, National Cash Register, UNIVAC dominated.

1969-1975: Time-Sharing Cycle: computing and telecommunication integration became necessary; breakdown of one-time monopolies into service-oriented units; organizational conflict as operating departments (production, engineering, marketing) realized possession of information was synonymous with organizational power; nonfinancial organizations offered access to centralized computing through time-sharing of mainframe computers over slow telephone circuits; concept of outsourcing information services took hold for first time (in response to costly, nonresponsive services); use of small-scale computers offered on-line access to computing power through high-speed terminals over local cabling (avoided dependency on expensive telephone circuits); lifecycle support costs of information processing much larger than acquisition cost of computers (local sites acquired own staff, consultants, suppliers); budgets grew, equipment purchases increased, few directors of data processing promoted to vice presidents of information systems.

1975-1981: Minicomputer Cycle: purchasing power of computing and information services shifted to consumers of computing (cost of goods); experimental and interactive improvisations became more important than formality of systems-development methodologies (faster completion schedules); areas of local expertise acted as catalyst for expanding demands for computing; computing capacity grew; initiated shift from disciplined mainframe computing to improvised computing (people could afford to purchase their own equipment); computing prices dropped rapidly, competition became more intense, costs of information processing shifted from central processing unit (little competition) to computer peripherals and software; increasingly difficult to account for computer spending; computing became cost of goods sold item; computer technologies served rising information-processing needs of local managers, professional employees (no longer means to control individuals, their work); employees wanted instant availability, personal ownership of computing resources.

1981-1988: Microcomputer Cycle: computing independence, local processing capacity; shift from dominance of computer experts to defensive, job-protection efforts of office workers; transition from people's acquiring computer expertise to computer software's matching better with capabilities of people; psychological effectiveness versus engineering efficiency; former dominant companies suffered enormous financial losses, dismissed large share of work force; engineering ideology versus understanding of socioeconomic change - demise of Digital Equipment; enormous expansion in access to calculating power; increased spending on personal computers improved productivity, did not clearly contribute to profit; principal corporate computer executives given title of chief information officer.

1988-1995: Client/Server Investment Cycle: reaction against unmanageable proliferation of stand-alone computers (vs. need to replace expensive mainframe computing with more distributed computing architecture); response to microcomputer uprisings against central computer establishment; more expensive, less reliable; supporters wanted latest technologies for all new applications (quicken pace of obsolescence after initial installation, inflated costs of upgrades as technological life of equipment and software shrank); improved response times to inquiries; sped  development of local adaptations, modifications, enhancements of standard applications (readily available at a low cost from off-the-shelf software packages); great deal of local experimentation led to innovative computer solutions; customers demanded instant network feedback, application flexibility, superior network performance, rapid database access times,  instant response to keystrokes (used with stand-alone desktop machines); led to higher prices for technology, support services, training.

1995-Present: Web and Intranet-Based Computing: balance between efficiency and protection of constitutional rights; efficiency and simplicity vs. privacy; computer-perfected monitoring of people; convenience and profitability (elimination of cash in favor of electronically monitored transactions) vs. intrusions on privacy and defenselessness from financial penalties.

(Allied-Signal Inc.), James D. Best (1997). The Digital Organization: AlliedSignal's Success with Business Technology. (New York, NY: Wiley, 234 p.). Former Vice President, Computing and Network Operations (AlliedSignal). Allied-Signal Inc.--Management; High technology industries--United States--Management--Case studies; International business enterprises--United States--Management--Case studies; Management information systems--Case studies.

(Cap Gemini Sogeti), Tristan Gaston-Breton; preface, Valery Giscard d’Estaing (1999). La Saga Cap Gemini: L’Incroyable Histoire de l’une des Plus Belles Success Stories Francaises de L'Informatique. (Paris, FR: Point de Mire, 165 p.). Cap Gemini Sogeti (Firm); Computer service industry--France.

(HCL Technologies), Vineet Nayar (20!0). Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 198 p.). CEO, HCL Technologies. Management -- Employee participation; Corporate culture; Organizational change; Customer relations; HCL Technologies -- Management -- Case studies. Revolution at HCL Technologies; defied conventional wisdom, turned hierarchical pyramid upside down, made management accountable to employees (not other way around); fired imagination of employees, customers; made HCLT one of fastest-growing, profitable global IT services companies, one of 20 most influential companies in world; how he, his team implemented employee first philosophy.

(Mitre Corporation), Davis Dyer, Michael Aaron Dennis (1998). Architects of Information Advantage: The Mitre Corporation Since 1958. (Montgomery, AL: Community Communications, p.). Mitre Corporation--Case studies; Information technology--United States; Command and control systems--United States; Administrative agencies--United States--Data processing; United States--Defenses--Data processing.

(World Wildlife Fund), Gregory S. Smith (2006). Straight to the Top: Becoming a World-Class CIO. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 240 p.). Vice President, CIO of IT at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, DC. Chief information officers--Vocational guidance; Information technology--Management--Vocational guidance; Information resources management--Vocational guidance. View, from executive recruiter's perspective, of traits top search firms look for in CIO candidates. 

Bruce Abramson (2005). Digital Phoenix: Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How It Will Rise Again. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 361 p.). Consultant, Lawyer with Focus on Issues Related to the Digital Economy. Information technology--Economic aspects; Internet--Economic aspects. 

James R. Beniger (1986). The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 493 p.). Associate Professor at the Annenberg School of Communications (USC). Communication--Social aspects--United States; Information technology--Social aspects--United States; Information society; Computers and civilization. Origin of Information Society - major economic, business crises of past century: 1) steam power, 2) Industrial Revolution, 3) data processing, 4) microprocessing.

Richard D. Brown (1989). Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 372 p.). Professor of History (University of Connecticut). Communication--United States--History; United States--Civilization--To 1783; United States--Civilization--1783-1865. 

Erik Brynjolfsson and Adam Saunders (2009). Wired for Innovation: How Information Technology is Reshaping the Economy. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 128 p.). Schussel Family Professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business; PhD. candidate in the Information Technologies Group (MIT). How, since 1995, information technology created, directly or indirectly, lion's share of nation's productivity surge, reversed decades of slow growth; delayed effects of massive investments in business processes accompanying large technology investments since late 1990s; companies with highest level of returns to technology investment bought technology, invested in organizational capital to become digital organizations; real sources of value in emerging information economy; how to better measure value of technology in economy.

Nicholas G. Carr (2004). Does IT Matter?: Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 208 p.). Information technology; Technological innovations. 

--- (2008). The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google. (New York, NY: Norton, 224 p.). Former Executive Editor (Harvard Business Review). Computers and civilization; Information technology--Social aspects; Technological innovations; Internet. History, economics, technology  - why computing is changing, turning into a utility, just as privately generated steam power turned into public electric utilities 100 years ago; what cheap computing means for society. 

Eds. Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., James W. Cortada (2000). A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 380 p.). Information technology--United States--History.

Claudio Ciborra; with a foreword by Kristen Nygaard (2002). The Labyrinths of Information: Challenging the Wisdom of Systems. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 195 p.). Information technology; Technological innovations; Organizational change.

Compiled by James W. Cortada (1983). An Annotated Bibliography on the History of Data Processing. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 215 p.). Computers--History--Bibliography; Electronic data processing--History--Bibliography.

James W. Cortada (1996). Information Technology as Business History: Issues in the History and Management of Computers. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 263 p.). Director of CSL Programs and Support for IBM Global Services. Business--Data processing--History; Information technology--Management--History; Electronic data processing--History. 

--- (2002). Making the Information Society: Experience, Consequences, and Possibilities. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 469 p.). Director of CSL Programs and Support for IBM Global Services and Chairman of the Charles Babbage Foundation at the University of Minnesota. Information society--United States; Information technology--Economic aspects--United States; Information technology--Social aspects--United States. 

Stan Davis, Christopher Meyer (1998). Blur: The Speed of Change in the Connected Economy. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 265 p.). Information technology--Economic aspects; Telecommunication--Technological innovations; Technology and civilization.

Larry Downes, Chunka Mui ; [foreword by Nicholas Negroponte] (2000). Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 243 p.). Information technology--United States--Management; Digital communications--United States--Management; Organizational change--United States.

Matthew P. Drennan (2002). The Information Economy and American Cities. ( Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 153 p.). Information technology--Economic aspects--United States; Metropolitan areas--United States; Urban economics; United States--Economic conditions--1981-2001; United States--Economic conditions--1971-1981; United States--Economic conditions--1961-1971.

Johannes Cornelis Maria van den Ende (1994). The Turn of the Tide: Computerization in Dutch Society, 1900-1965. (Delft, Netherlands: Delft University Press, 267 p.). Automation--Economic aspects--Netherlands; Automation--Social aspects--Netherlands.

Philip Evans, Thomas S. Wurster (2000). Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 261 p.). Information technology; Knowledge management; Strategic planning.

Chris Freeman and Francisco Louçã (2001). As Time Goes By: From the Industrial Revolutions to the Information Revolution. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 407 p.). Long waves (Economics)--History; Information technology--History; Industrial revolution.

James Gleick (2011). The Information A History, a Theory, a Flood. (New York, NY: Pantheon Books: Pantheon Books, 544 p.). Information science --History; Information society. How information has become modern era’s defining quality; from invention of scripts and alphabets to long-misunderstood talking drums of Africa - information technologies that changed nature of human consciousness; key figures who contributed to modern understanding of information.

Daniel R. Headrick (2000). When Information Came of Age: Technologies of Knowledge in the Age of Reason and Revolution, 1700-1850. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 246 p.). Professor of Social Science and History (Roosevelt University). Learning and scholarship--Europe--History--18th century; Learning and scholarship--Europe--History--19th century; Information resources--Europe--History--18th century; Information resources--Europe--History--19th century; Enlightenment; Europe--Intellectual life--18th century; Europe--Intellectual life--19th century. Information Age is step in long cultural process with conceptual roots in profound changes that occurred during the Age of Reason and Revolution. 

Erik Keller (2004). Technology Paradise Lost: Why Companies Will Spend Less To Get More from Information Technology. (Greenwich, CT: Manning Publications, 260 p.). Former Research Fellow (Gartner Group). Information technology--Finance. New IT-think. 

Steven Johnson (1997). Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate. (San Francisco, CA: HarperEdge, 264 p.). Editor, Online Magazine (Feed). Information technology--Social aspects; Information society; Communication and culture. 

--- (2001). Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software. (New York, NY: Scribner, 288 p.). Editor, Online Magazine (Feed). Self-organizing systems; Swarm intelligence; Systems engineering. 

Dean Lane (2004). CIO Wisdom: Best Practices from Silicon Valley's Leading IT Experts. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall PTR, 412 p.). Senior Director Information Technology (Symantec Corporation). Information technology--Management; Information resources management--Miscellanea; Management information systems--Miscellanea.

Richard A. Lanham (2006). The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 326 p.). Professor Emeritus of English (University of California, Los Angeles). Information society--Economic aspects; Economics--Sociological aspects; Information technology--Social aspects. Move from economy of things, objects to an economy of attention, grounded in  humanities and liberal arts. 

Paul Levinson (1997). The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution. (New York, NY: Routledge, 257 p.). Information technology--History; Information technology--Forecasting.

Steven Lubar (1993). InfoCulture: The Smithsonian Book of Information Age Inventions. (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 408 p.). National Museum of American History (U.S.)--Exhibitions; Information technology--History.

James L. McKenney with Duncan C. [i.e. G.] Copeland, Richard O. Mason (1995). Waves of Change: Business Evolution Through Information Technology. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 230 p.). Information technology--United States--Management--History; Business enterprises--United States--Automation--History; Organizational change--United States--History.

Jeff Papows (1998). Market Leadership in the Information Age. (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 240 p.). Head of Lotus Software Unit of IBM. Information technology--Economic aspects; Industrial management--Data processing; Information technology--Social aspects; World Wide Web; Information society.

Harvey L. Poppel, Bernard Goldstein; with foreword by John Sculley (1987). Information Technology: The Trillion-Dollar Opportunity. (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 207 p.). Computer industry; Telecommunication equipment industry; Market surveys; Information technology.

William V. Rapp (2002). Information Technology Strategies: How Leading Firms Use IT To Gain an Advantage. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 303 p.). Information technology--Management; Business--Data processing; Strategic planning; Information technology--Management--Case studies; Business--Data processing--Case studies; Strategic planning--Case studies.

Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, David Robertson (2006). Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press,, 288 p.). Industrial management--Automation; Information technology--Management; Strategic planning. Enterprise architecture may matter far more than strategy. 

Carl Shapiro, Hal R. Varian (1999). Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 352 p.). Information technology--Economic aspects; Information society.

Charlotte S. Stephens (1995). The Nature of Information Technology Managerial Work: The Work Life of Five Chief Information Officers. (Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 221 p.). Information technology--Management--Case studies; Chief information officers--United States--Case studies.

Paul A. Strassmann (1997). The Squandered Computer: Evaluating the Business Alignment of Information Technologies. (New Canaan, CT : Information Economics Press, 426 p.). Information technology --Management; Information technology --Economic aspects; Business --Data processing --Economic aspects; Electronic data processing departments --Contracting out; Computers --Economic aspects.

George Westerman, Richard Hunter (2007). IT Risk: Turning Business Threats into Competitive Advantage. (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 221 p.). Research Scientist in the Center for Information Systems Research (MIT Sloan School of Management); Group Vice President and Gartner Fellow (Gartner Executive Programs). Information technology--Management; Management information systems; Risk management; Information technology--Security measures. New model for integrated risk management; three core areas to develop to eliminate problems that silo strategies create.

Walter B. Wriston (1992). The Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World. (New York, NY: Scribner, 192 p.). Information technology.

Tim Wu (2010). The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empire. (New York, NY: Knopf, 336 p.). Professor of Copyright and Communications (Columbia Law School). Telecommunication --History; Information technology --History. Long patterns of media centralization, decentralization; secret history of industrial wars behind rise, fall of 20th century’s great information empires; could history repeat, could one giant entity take control of American information?; each major new medium (telephone to cable) arrived on similar wave of idealistic optimism, consolidated, profoundly affected how Americans communicated; every free, open technology became centralized, closed, as huge corporate power took control of "master switch"; similar struggle looms over Internet, other media; who gets heard.



IT Conversations                                                                    

Podcasts from some of the most interesting thinkers in IT, including Wozniak, Kahle, Lessig, Shirky, and many more. Has both audio and text search capability. 

IT History Society                                                                                                                       

April 28, 1978 - Founded as the Charles Babbage Foundation (to support the work of the Charles Babbage Institute established in 1978 by over two dozen senior executives from the information processing industry, distinguished computer scientists, and historians as a historical research and archive center focused on the history of computing and information technology); 2002 - broadened mission to support the entire IT history community; 2007 - changed its name and reworked its programs to better support the IT history community; mission - to enhance and expand works concerning the history of Information Technology and to demonstrate the value of IT history to the understanding and improvement of our present and future world.


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