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HiNC3, The Third IFIP WG 9.7 Working Conference on History of Nordic Computing
18 - 20 October 2010, Stockholm
The first and second conferences on the history of Nordic computing, organized in Trondheim (2003) and Turku (2007) respectively, were very successful and acquired a great deal of interest from ICT professionals and academics as well as from historians of technology. These conferences are therefore now to be followed by a third one, which will take place in Stockholm, October 2010. The conference will also honour the successful completion of a project on Swedish ICT history. Called “From Computing Machines to IT”, the Swedish Computer Society initiated the project with the support of the Division of History of Science and Technology at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and the National Museum of Science and Technology.
The conference is organized as an activity within IFIP’s Working Group 9.7 (History of Computing) of its Technical Committee 9 (Relationship between Computers and Society). It is sponsored and organised jointly by the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences at Stockholm University and KTH and the Swedish Computer Society. Sponsorship is being sought also from Nordic private companies.
Although humans have dealt with computing since the day someone felt the need to count on one’s fingers, the history of modern computing began some sixty years ago. In the Nordic countries as well as in most other places, it started shortly after the Second World War with efforts to design and build computers for military/industrial calculations and data processing. From there, information technology has spread into and penetrated all areas of society.
Hence, today ICT is employed in areas ranging from the control of machinery and production lines in manufacturing to business administration and office applications, and to e-health and e-government applications. Additionally the private lives of people have been heavily affected by mobile phones, and personal digital assistants. The internet and the world wide web offer information at one’s fingertips, not to mention computer games, multimedia, and other interesting applications.
In other words, there is no question that computers and information technology have had a tremendous effect on the Nordic countries and societies, not only technically but also socially and culturally. How did all this happen? The HiNC conferences contribute to answering this question.
Aims and Scope of HiNC3
Nordic computing started with hardware development such as BESK, DASK, NUSSE, ESKO and other machines. From there it has evolved into all aspects of information technology development and use. When contemplating the past sixty years, a number of questions may be asked:
- Why and how did we arrive to the position where we are now? Could we have done better or otherwise?
- What, in the past, did we do well and which decisions were less fortunate?
- What can we learn from the past? How should we continue in the future?
Consequently, the aim of this conference on Nordic computing history is to re-examine our past and to extract experience and knowledge that we may use to make wiser decisions about future endeavours in developing and making use of information technology in the Nordic countries.
At large, the HiNC series of conferences provides a vehicle for bringing together Nordic collective memory regarding development of hardware and software as well as methodology and areas of usage of computers. However, while development of technology is fairly well documented, less is written about the development of its use and about the ways in which ICT usage and users are affected by the technical development. Therefore, HiNC3 will focus on
- The application and use of ICT in private enterprises as well as in public administration, and for the individual’s personal use;
- How the conditions for developing and using IT systems have been affected by technical progress in areas such as user interaction and networks.
The historical time period that will be at the centre of attention during the conference, covers the period from around 1970 up until around 1995. This leads up to the beginning of the Internet and global networks era.