Introducing the Early Digital

  • Thomas Haigh
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


This introductory chapter outlines the objectives of the book, explaining how adopting “early digital” as a frame can encourage new perspectives on established topics within the history of computing and productively integrate concerns from related fields such as media theory and communications history. Haigh encourages historians to take digitality seriously as an analytical category, probes the differences between analog and digital computing, and argues that the ability of a machine to follow a program is fundamentally digital. He also introduces the contributions of the individual chapters in the book, situating each within this broader analysis of digitality and its historical materiality.


  1. Abbate, Janet. Inventing the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  2. Aspray, William. “The Many Histories of Information.” Information & Culture 50, no. 1 2015): 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barr, Nicholas. “The History of the Phillips Machine.” In A.W.H. Phillips: Collected Works in Contemporary Perspective, 89–114. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  4. Bassett, Ross Knox. To The Digital Age: Research Labs, Start-Up Companies, and the Rise of MOS Technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  5. Black, Alistair. “Information History.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 40 2006): 441–473.Google Scholar
  6. Blanchette, Jean-François. “A Material History of Bits.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 62, no. 6 2011): 1042–1057.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brügger, Niels, ed. Web History. New York: Peter Lang, 2010.Google Scholar
  8. Campbell-Kelly, Martin, and William Aspray. Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1996.Google Scholar
  9. Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.Google Scholar
  10. Copeland, B Jack. Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  11. Ensmenger, Nathan. “The Digital Construction of Technology: Rethinking the History of Computers in Society” Technology and Culture 53, no. 4 (October 2012): 753–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haigh, Thomas. “Inventing Information Systems: The Systems Men and the Computer, 1950–1968.” Business History Review 75, no. 1 (Spring 2001): 15–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. “Thomas Harold (“Tommy”) Flowers: Designer of the Colossus Codebreaking Machines.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 40, no. 1 (January–March 2018): 72–78.Google Scholar
  14. ———. “We Have Never Been Digital.” Communications of the ACM 57, no. 9 (Sep 2014): 24–28.Google Scholar
  15. Haigh, Thomas, and Mark Priestley. “Where Code Comes From: Architectures of Automatic Control from Babbage to Algol.” Communications of the ACM 59, no. 1 (January 2016): 39–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haigh, Thomas, Mark Priestley, and Crispin Rope. ENIAC In Action: Making and Remaking the Modern Computer. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  17. Hecht, Gabrielle. “Rupture-talk in the Nuclear Age: Conjugating Colonial Power in Africa.” Social Studies of Science 32, no. 6 (December 2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Isaacson, Walter. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.Google Scholar
  19. Kirsch, Adam. “Technology is Taking Over English Departments: The False Promise of the Digital Humanities.” The New Republic (May 2 2014).Google Scholar
  20. Kirschenbaum, Matthew. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.Google Scholar
  21. Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  22. Kittler, Friedrich A. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  23. Kline, Ronald. The Cybernetics Moment, Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  24. Kline, Ronald R. “Cybernetics, Management Science, and Technology Policy: The Emergence of ‘Information Technology’ as a Keyword, 1948–1985.” Technology and Culture 47, no. 3 (June 2006): 513–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lamont, Tom. ‘You Can’t Judge a Generation’s Taste’: Making Now That’s What I Call Music The Guardian, 23 June 2018. Available from
  26. Lecuyer, Christoph. Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930–70. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.Google Scholar
  27. Mahoney, Michael S. “The History of Computing in the History of Technology.” Annals of the History of Computing 10, no. 2 (April 1988): 113–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mindell, David A. Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, and Computing Before Cybernetics. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  29. Montfort, Nick, and Ian Bogost. Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  30. Mosco, Vincent. The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nunberg, Geoffrey. “Farewell to the Information Age.” In The Future of the Book, 103–138. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  32. Parikka, Jussi. “Operative Media Archaeology: Wolfgang Ernst’s Materialist Media Diagrammatics.” Theory. Culture & Society 28, no. 5 (September 2011): 52-74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Randell, Brian. “The Colossus.” edited by N Metropolis, J Howlett and Gian-Carlo Rota, 47–92. New York: Academic Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  34. Russell, Andrew L. Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology and Networks. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  35. Schiller, Dan. Digital Depression: Information Technology and Economic Crisis. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014.Google Scholar
  36. Schröter, Jens, and Alexander Böhnke. “Analog/Digital – Opposition oder Kontinuum? Zur Theorie und Geschichte einer Unterscheidung.” Bielefeld, Germany: Transkript, 2004.Google Scholar
  37. Shannon, Claude E, and Warren Weaver. The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1949.Google Scholar
  38. Soni, Jimmy, and Rob Goodman. A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2017.Google Scholar
  39. Thackray, Arnold, David Brock, and Rachel Jones. Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary: Basic Books, 2015.Google Scholar
  40. von Neumann, John. “First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 15, no. 4 (October 1993): 27–75.Google Scholar
  41. Williams, Michael R. “A Preview of Things to Come: Some Remarks on the First Generation of Computers.” In The First Computers: History and Architectures, edited by Raúl Rojas and Ulf Hashagen, 1–16. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Haigh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of Wisconsin–MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Comenius Visiting ProfessorSiegen UniversitySiegenGermany

Personalised recommendations