January 31, 2005

Collection of the Origins of Cyberspace Up For Auction at Christies

The Origins of Cyberspace: A Library on the History of Computing, Networking & Telecommunications
Sale 1484
23 February 2005, 10:00 am
20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York

One thing to note is how text based all the artifacts and memorabilia are... Looking at these documents, the heritage of computing science is about textual understandings, not images or visually based communication, and this perspective still weighs heavily on development today.

This program from a play (c. 1920) which was the first use of the word, Robot, is one of the items for sale. (click on the image to read about the play and author.) RobotSM.jpg

Some items go back to the 1600's. The guy selling the stuff, Jeremy Norman, published a catalog in 2002 with Diana H. Hook called Origins of Cyberspace: A Library on the History of Computing, Networking, and Telecommunications (see his website for more information).

I can't help thinking that he probably doesn't need the money, and the collection is valuable for other reasons, especially together, for science history and socio-technical study. It's too bad it's going to be parceled out, instead of kept together in some institution for academics, students and innovators to learn from and compare across the collection to see how past scientific and computing development occured. Maybe it could all be scanned in detail for a virtual museum?

Posted by Mary Hodder at January 31, 2005 08:56 AM | TrackBack

Regarding scanning the items for a virtual museum, lot 58 (http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/search/LotDetail.asp?intObjectID=4443526&SN=1484&LN=0058) turns out to be a set of documents involving the original FORTRAN compiler. For the last year, I have been tracking down source code, documentation, and related information about early FORTRAN -- my weblog Dusty Decks (http://www.mcjones.org/dustydecks/) documents my progress. It will be possible for the Computer History Museum to have an excellent virtual exhibit on FORTRAN history and eventually other aspects of the history of software.

Posted by: Paul McJones at February 5, 2005 09:07 PM