When Computers Were Amateur
JUN 24, 2014 09:08 AM
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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
April-June 2014 (vol. 36, no. 2)
pp. 4-14

 

When Computers Were Amateur

Kevin Gotkin, University of Pennsylvania

This article examines the records of the Amateur Computer Society (1966-1976), a hobbyist organization whose newsletters chronicle an important corner in the history of computing. It argues for amateurism as an important foil to histories firmly ensconced in the firm or lab, often focused on technological artifacts. The author offers two readings of the newsletters: one that looks at the discussion of schematics as a contested representation of amateur expertise and the other that reveals the crucial links between amateur practice and domesticity. In addition to this portrait of early computer building hobbyists, the article sketches the amateur as a meaningful analytic category for the history of computing.

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