Much of the available historical
work on computers concentrates on business models and
economics. They rarely discuss computers as artifacts, but
they do provide some of the historical background necessary
for a study of material culture.
- Apple Computer, Inc., 1990 Annual
Apple has surprisingly little
organization of its archival materials for research
such as mine. However, they very happily sent me
annual stockholder reports for several of the years
within my period, and, though not particularly useful,
they are quite interesting in revealing Apple's
self-conscious corporate culture. [Since this was
written in spring 1998, the organization of
web site has been
substantially improved, especially for access to technical archival material - but its meagre history pages have been removed.]
- Butcher, Lee, Accidental
Millionaire: The rise and fall of Steve Jobs at Apple
Computer, New York: Paragon, 1988.
- Carlton, Jim, Apple: The
inside story of intrigue, egomania, and business
blunders, New York: Random House, 1997.
This book is the result of many
interviews with people in the computer industry and it
contains many interesting facts and a few insights.
However, its thesis, that Apple persistently ignored
great business opportunities to its own eventual
decline, is necessarily focussed on managerial
conflicts. He seems to have very little knowledge of
technical issues, though he offers broad explanations
that would satisfy a general reader.
- Carroll, Paul, Big Blues:
The Unmaking of IBM, Crown: New York, 1993.
- Chposky, James and Ted Leonsis, Blue Magic: The
People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal
Computer, Facts on File: Oxford, 1988.
- Ferguson, Charles H. and Charles R. Morris,
Computer Wars, New York: Random House, 1993.
- Rose, Frank, West of Eden: The end of innocence at
Apple Computer, New York: Viking, 1989.
- Sculley, John, Odyssey:
Pepsi to Apple... Journey of adventure, ideas, and the
future, New York: Harper & Row, 1987.
- Smith, Douglas K. and Robert C. Alexander,
Fumbling the Future: How Xerox invented, then ignored,
the first personal computer, New York: William
- Young, Jeffrey S., Steve Jobs: The journey is the
reward, London: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1988.
- Garsten, Christina, Apple World: Core and
periphery in a transnational organizational culture,
Stockhold: Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology,
Garsten's Apple World is an anthopological study of a
business. It was not of great help to me, but was
interesting for having a very different
- Levy, Steven, Insanely Great:
The life and times of Macintosh, the computer that
changed everything. New York: Viking, 1994.
Levy is a journalist and
self-declared computer novice who was allowed access
to the Macintosh in its development, became hugely
enamored of it, and has been writing for the magazine
MacWorld ever since. He gives an anecdotal and
celebratory history of the Macintosh and the people
The most helpful of technology
journalism was found in Compute! (particularly
(1984-91). These computer magazines provided advertisements,
reviews, speculations, opinions, and technical information
for the period examined, as well as occasional nostalgia.
Cited articles are listed here:
- Comly, Dan, "User's Report: The
PET 2001," Byte, March 1978, p. 114-127.
- Fluegelman, Andrew, "The Making of the Macintosh,"
MacWorld, Vol. 1 No. 1, 1984, p. 126-36.
- Helmer, Carl, "An Apple to Byte," Byte, March
1978, p. 18-46.
- Levy, Steven, "A Shut and Open Case,"
MacWorld, Jan. 1987, p. 55-7.
- Moore, Robin, Apple's Enhanced Computer, the Apple
IIe," Byte, February 1983, p. 68-74.
- Morgan, Chris, "Of IBM, Operating Systems, and
Rosetta Stones," Byte, Jan. 1982, p. 6.
- Smarte, Gene and Andrew
Reinhardt, "15 Years of Bits, Bytes, and Other Great
Moments," Byte, Sept. 1990, p. 369-400.
- Williams, Gregg, "A Closer Look at the IBM Personal
Computer," Byte, Jan. 1982, p. 36-70.
books are extremely unusual in showing a concern for the
physical design of computers:
- Gelernter, David, Machine Beauty, BasicBooks:
New York, 1998.
on the design of computer interfaces, but it does also
briefly criticize the standard physical design,
suggesting some very rudimentary alternatives.
Gelernter is not a designer, historian or
technologist, and his treatment is superficial and
vague enough to be accessible yet frustrating to
- Kunkel, Paul, AppleDesign:
The work of the Apple Industrial Design Group, with
photographs by Rick English, New York: Graphis, 1997.
AppleDesign is a beautiful if often inarticulate
book with over 400 photographs of Apple products and
concepts for products that were not released. It is
often inaccurate in technical details and is
remarkably full of typos, but it is the best source of
information on the people involved in Apple's
industrial design. The variety and creativity of the
design work done by Apple and by frogdesign is
particularly vivid in the products that were
not released, though these are outside
the scope of my study.
- Laurel, Brenda (ed.), The Art of Human-Computer
Interface Design, New York: Addison-Wesley, 1990.
This book, containing essays by
many Apple employees, provides useful information of
the design of computer operating system interfaces.
There is a strong link between hardware and software,
especially with Macintosh computers, but, more
importantly, the interface of a computer is now
commonly regarded as analagous to physical space. I'm
interested in regarding this kind of "cyber-space" as
material culture, and will continue to research this
describe models for analyzing material culture. As I've
none are specifically geared towards the study of computers,
but they each have contributed to my perspective. The
articles by Cooke and Gilborn are particularly useful.
- Cooke, Edward S., Jr., "The Study of American
Furniture from the Perspective of its Maker,"
Perspectives on American Furniture, ed. Gerald
W.R. Ward. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 113-126.
- Flemming, E. McClung, "Artifact Study: A Proposed
Model," Winterthur Portfolio 9 (1974), 153-73.
- Gilborn, Craig, "Pop Pedagogy: Looking at the Coke
Bottle" in Material Culture Studies in America,
ed. Thomas J. Schlereth. Nashville: AASLH, 1982, p.
- Kenneth Hudson, "Current Trends in Industrial
Archeology," Victorian Studies, Sept. 1972, p.
- Marquet, Jacques, "Objects as Instruments, Objects as
Signs" in History from Things: Essays on Material
Culture Studies, ed. Steven Lubar and W. David
Kingery. Washington: Smithsonian Institution P., 1996, p.
- Prown, Jules, "Mind in Matter: An Introduction to
Material Culture Theory and Method," Winterthur
Portfolio 17, no. 1 (spring, 1982), 1-19.
Material culture studies are
gradually becoming more common among historians of
technology. Lubar and Gordon are among the growing few in
the intersection between these broad fields:
- Gordon, Robert B., "The Interpretation of artifacts
in the history of technology" in History from Things:
Essays on Material Culture Studies, ed. Steven Lubar
and W. David Kingery. Washington: Smithsonian Institution
P., 1996, p. 74-93.
- Lubar, Steven, "Machine Politics:
The political construction of technological artifacts"
History from Things: Essays on Material Culture
Studies, ed. Steven Lubar and W. David Kingery.
Washington: Smithsonian Institution P., 1996, p. 197-214.
The emergance of material culture
study is one theme in the history of the history of
technology. Staudenmaier's is the most accessible study of
his own emerging discipline:
- Staudenmaier, John M., Technology's
Storytellers, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.
computer technology are often done by those embracing or
advocating the technology itself. As such, many of my
primary references are available through the Internet.
- Apple's own page for its history was always surprisingly
meagre, but it has now vanished entirely, assumedly a victim of Jobs' refashioning of the company image. However, general Apple information can be found from the
detailed sets of web pages from
Apple Computer Inc.
and Apple Canada.
- Also, Apple's Chief Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, has
personally created the Evangelist web page containing
links to many resources primarily intended for advocacy.
- frogdesign, the design house that heavily influenced
the look of Apple's products, gives a timeline of their
work in the industrial design of several large
corporations, including several in the computer industry:
- IBM has an extensive web page relating their long
history in computing industries:
- The Computer Museum in Boston has a page that gives
only very general information about the history of
computers and computing:
- A recent PBS television series, "Triumph of the
Nerds," is supported by a website:
web pages are generally not very helpful for historical
information. The study of computers is at a stage similar to
that of industrial archeology, as described by Kenneth
Hudson in 1972 when a change was beginning to occur; much of
the direct work is being done by amateurs. Most of the web
pages I have used are done by individuals or clubs, out of
interest rather than financial gain. A few of these follow:
General computer history
industry || 2-Emerging
standards || 3-Macintosh
focus || Conclusion ||
Bibliography & links