Prophets of Computing

February 6, 2023

Visions of Society Transformed by Computing

Prophets of Computing

When electronic digital computers first appeared after World War II, they appeared as a revolutionary force. Business management, the world of work, administrative life, the nation state, and soon enough everyday life were expected to change dramatically with these machines’ use. Ever since, diverse prophecies of computing have continually emerged, through to the present day.

As computing spread beyond the US and UK, such prophecies emerged from strikingly different economic, political, and cultural conditions. This volume explores how these expectations differed, assesses unexpected commonalities, and suggests ways to understand the divergences and convergences.

This book examines thirteen countries, based on source material in ten different languages—the effort of an international team of scholars. In addition to analyses of debates, political changes, and popular speculations, we also show a wide range of pictorial representations of “the future with computers.”

The book is reviewed by Dick van Lente, former researcher at the TIS group. At present Van Lente is book review editor at the magazine “Technology and Culture” of the Eindhoven History Lab.