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Issue No.04 - October-December (2001 vol.23)
pp: 75-104
ABSTRACT
<p>The computer promised business of the 1950s an administrative revolution. What it delivered was data processing-a hybrid of new technology and existing punched card machines, people, and attitudes. The author examines how first-generation computers were sold and purchased, and describes the occupations (analyst, programmer, and operator) and departments that emerged around them. This illuminates claims of a more recent electronic revolution in business.</p>
CITATION
Thomas Haigh, "The Chromium-Plated Tabulator: Institutionalizing an Electronic Revolution, 1954-1958", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.23, no. 4, pp. 75-104, October-December 2001, doi:10.1109/85.969965
REFERENCES
1. The need to examine the usage of computers is a major theme of J.W. Cortada, Information Technology as Business History: Issues in the History and Management of Computers, Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 1996. The quotation is from p. 160. See also P.N. Edwards, "Making History: New Directions in Computer Historiography," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2001, pp. 85-87. One exception to the general lack of attention to use has been the work of JoAnne Yates; see particularly J. Yates, "Co-evolution of Information-Processing Technology and Use: Interaction between the Life Insurance and Tabulating Industries," Business History Rev., vol. 67, no. 1, Spring 1993, pp. 1-51 and J. Yates, "Early Interactions between the Life Insurance and Computer Industries: The Prudential's Edmund C. Berkeley," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 19, no. 3, July-Sept. 1997, pp. 60-73. Yates argues that the demands of user organizations played an important part in shaping the hardware of punched card machines and early computers. For a first-hand account of the challenges involved in constructing the first administrative computing installation (one facing the additional challenge of building its own computer), see J. Aris, "Inventing Systems Engineering,"IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 22, no. 3, July-Sept., 2000, pp. 4-15. For an excellent and historically informed overview of changes in the development of computer application systems, see A.L. Friedman and D.S. Cornford, Computer Systems Development: History, Organization and Implementation, John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1989. The corporate use of computers from 1960 onward is discussed in R.L. Nolan, "Information Technology Management since 1960," inA Nation Transformed by Information: How Information has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present, A.D. Chandler and J.W. Cortada, eds., Oxford Univ. Press, New York, 2000, pp. 217-256, while a set of historical case studies are presented in J.L. McKenney, D.C. Copeland, and R.O. Mason, Waves of Change: Business Evolution through Information Technology, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1995, and, for the Dutch case, D. de Wit, The Shaping of Automation: A Historical Analysis of the Interaction between Technology and Organization, 1950-1985, Verloren, Hilversum, Netherlands, 1994.
2. The evolutionary progression from punched card technologies to electronic computers is a major theme of M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Basic Books, New York, 1996; J. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the IndustryThey Created, 1865-1956, Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J., 1993; and J. Cortada, The Computer in the United States: From Laboratory to Market, 1930-1960, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, N.Y., 1993.
3. R.S. Cowan, "The Consumption Junction: A Proposal for Research Strategies in the Sociology of Technology," in The Social Construction of Technological Systems, W.E. Bijker, T. Pinch, and T.P. Hughes, eds., MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1987, pp. 261-280. The classic examination of the concept of computer revolution remains L. Winner's "Mythinformation in the High-Tech Era," inComputers in the Human Context,T. Forester, ed., MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1991, pp. 82-132.
4. What I call administrative computing is more generally known as business computing. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was frequently distinguished from scientific computing—the use of computers to automate scientific and engineering calculations, and for purposes of modeling and simulation. The latter was sometimes also known as technical computing. The reason I useadministrativerather thanbusinessorcommercialis one of precision—much scientific computing took place within aerospace and other engineering companies, while a great deal of administrative computing took place within government and military institutions.
5. The concept of a social institution is important, implying that when senior managers establish new departments, evaluate their success, and determine their organizational position they do so primarily with reference to the prevailing consensus on what is appropriate. Thus the process by which a particular organizational form (like a new department or function) comes to enjoy widespread acceptance is only indirectly determined by objective experimentation in individual firms, and different firms come to look more and more alike. See W.W. Powell and P.J. DiMaggio,The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis,Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1991.
6. J.M. Thesis, "Practical Application of Electronic Equipment," J. Machine Accounting, vol. 6, no. 3, Mar. 1955, pp. 5, 7-8, 16-17, reprinted from the August 1954 issue of theNat'l Assoc. Cost Accountants Bull.The term automation was coined within Ford during the late 1940s, but only became widely known following its tireless promotion by consulting prodigy John Diebold during the early 1950s. See J. Diebold, "Automation—The New Technology," Harvard Business Rev.,vol. 31, no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1953, pp. 63-71.
7. E.C. Berkeley,Giant Brains or Machines That Think, John Wiley&Sons, New York, p. vii.
8. J.W. Haslett,"The Coming Revolution in Paperwork," Systems and Procedures Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 1, Mar. 1950, p. 1, and J.W. Haslett, "Is the Modern Office Vanishing?," Systems and Procedures Quarterly,vol. 2, no. 2, June 1951, pp. 11-13.
9. W.B. Worthington, "Application of Electronics to Administrative Systems," Systems and Procedures Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 1, Feb. 1953, pp. 8-14.
10. Modern consultants call this the fear factor, pointing out to executives that their companies have lots of money but little time, and so it would be wise to part with a lot of the former to gain a little of the latter. As a best-selling business book published in 2000 claimed, things moved so fast in the Internet age that to adopt the "fast follower" tactic of adopting only proven approaches was enormously irresponsible. In this argument, the lack of demonstrated savings or debugged systems is actually a selling point. See P. Evans and T.S. Wurster, Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2000. For discussion of the mass hysteria whereby investors threw money at startups without clear projected profits or even revenue streams, and established companies threw money into creating unviable spin-offs to stave off their challenge, see A. Harmon, "What Have E-Consultants Wrought?," in theNew York Times,13 May 2001, p. 1.
11. R.F. Osborn, "GE and UNIVAC: Harnessing the High-Speed Computer," Harvard Business Rev., vol. 32, no. 4, July-Aug. 1954, pp. 99-107; M.L. Hurni, "Decision Making in the Age of Automation," Harvard Business Rev., vol. 33, no. 5, Sept./Oct. 1955, pp. 49-58.
12. R.L. Ackoff, "Operations Research—Its Relationship to Data Processing," Proc. Automatic Data Processing Conf., Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1955; R.R. Ross, "Can You Afford the 'Practical' Approach to Electronics?" Management Methods,Nov. 1956, pp. 36-37, 56. This thinking reached its zenith in the celebrated H.J. Leavitt and T. L. Whisler article, "Management in the 1980s," Harvard Business Rev.,vol. 36, no. 6, Nov.-Dec. 1958, pp. 41-48.
13. F. Wallace, Appraising the Economics of Electronic Computers: An Approach for a Company to Determine the Feasibility of Acquiring a Computer, Controllership Foundation, New York, 1956, p. 50.
14. V.F. Blank, "Electronics—Possibilities and Limitations," Systems and Procedures Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 3, Aug. 1955, pp. 8-15.
15. P.B. Laubach and L.E. Thompson, "Electronic Computers: A Progress Report," Harvard Business Rev., vol. 33, no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1955, pp. 120-128.
16. J.W. LaForte, Market Analysis—Electronic Data Processing Machines Types 702-703-705, Feb. 1955, Cuthbert C. Hurd Papers (CBI 95), Charles Babbage Inst. (hereafter CBI), Univ. of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
17. T. WatsonJr. and P. Petre, Father, Son&Co: My Life at IBM and Beyond,Bantam, New York, 1990, p. 244.
18. For the technical and business history of first-generation computing, see C.J. Bashe et al., IBM's Early Computers, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1986; M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray,Computer: A History of the Information Machine,Basic Books, New York, 1996, pp. 105-130; P.E. Ceruzzi,A History of Modern Computing,MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1998, pp. 13-78. For contemporary descriptions of two of the era's most important administrative computers, see C.J. Bashe, W. Bucholz, and N. Rochester, "The IBM Type 702: An Electronic Data Processing Machine for Business," J. Assoc. Computing Machinery,vol. 1, no. 1, Oct. 1954, pp. 149-169; F.E. Hamilton and E.C. Kubie, "The IBM Magnetic Drum Calculator Type 650," J. Assoc. Computing Machinery,vol. 1, no. 1 pp. 13-20.
19. Figures on shipment value are taken from J.W. Cortada,Information Technology as Business History: Issues in the History and Management of Computers,Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 1996, in which they are attributed to a 1974 International Data Corporation report. For order backlog figures and average rental and purchase costs, see the early computer census included in R.H. Brown, Office Automation: A Handbook on Automatic Data Processing, 1959, Market and Product Reports Collection (CBI 55), CBI. For a discussion of the experience of a preinstallation practice session, see R.E. Porter, "First Encounter with the 701," Annals of the History of Computing,vol. 5, no. 2, Apr.-June 1983, pp. 202-204. On the difficulty of completing a thorough study without ordering a computer, see P.B. Laubach,Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing,Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957.
20. "The Office Equipment Industry: They Sell Answers to Problems that Executives Don't Know Exist," Dun's Rev. and Modern Industry, vol. 64, no. 3, Sept. 1954, pp. 101-119.
21. The classic examination of organizational mimicry is P.J. DiMaggio and W.W. Powell, "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields," American Sociological Rev., vol. 48, no. 2, Apr. 1983, pp. 147-160. For an examination of the dynamics of managerial fads, structured around the concept of the "management-knowledge entrepreneur," see E. Abrahmson and G. Fairchild, "Management Fashion: Lifecycles, Triggers, and Collective Learning Processes," Administrative Science Quarterly,vol. 44, no. 4, Dec. 1999, pp. 708-740.
22. The books referred to are, respectively, F. Wallace,Appraising the Economics of Electronic Computers: An Approach for a Company to Determine the Feasibility of Acquiring a Computer,Controllership Foundation, New York, 1956; B. Conway, J. Gibbons, and D.E. Watts,Business Experience with Electronic Computers: A Synthesis of What Has Been Learned from Electronic Data Processing Installations,Controllers Inst. Research Foundation, New York, 1959; R.G. Canning,Electronic Data Processing for Business and Industry,John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1956; R.G. Canning,Installing Electronic Data Processing Systems,John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1957; and P.B. Laubach,Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing,Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957. An initial version of the latter appeared in article form as P.B. Laubach and L.E. Thompson, "Electronic Computers: A Progress Report," Harvard Business Rev.,vol. 33, no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1955, pp. 120-128.
23. An enormous amount of work is conducted within large organizations to hide the true causes of the adoption of new technology (often located in organizational politics, emotion, and occupational subculture) and to present it as the result of a rational process of cost-benefit analysis originating at the top of the managerial hierarchy. For a theory of this process grounded in ethnographic case studies, see R.J. Thomas, What Machines Can't Do: Politics and Technology in the Industrial Enterprise, Univ. California Press, Berkeley, 1994.
24. F. Wallace, Appraising the Economics, 1956, p. 47 and 65.
25. H.S. Levin, Office Work and Automation, John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1956, p. 95. His opinions echo those of J.M. Thesis and R.E. Slater, "What Management Has 'Discovered' about Computers," J. Machine Accounting,vol. 6, no. 7, July-Aug. 1955, p. 24. On the depreciation of punched card equipment, see D.C. Niles, "Purchase versus Rental of Data Processing Equipment," Systems and Procedures,vol. 8, no. 1, Feb. 1957, p. 28. The topic became much more important around this date, as IBM was forced on antitrust grounds to offer purchase as well as rental options. Experts continued to discount the importance of obsolescence even after transistorized models had been announced and disk drives were becoming common. See N.J. Dean, "Computer Installation—Will It Pay To Wait?," The Management Rev.,vol. 49, no. 3, Mar. 1960, p. 25, and J.H. Dillon,Data Processing in Navy Management Information Systems, SecNavInst. P 10462.7,Dept. of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1959, p. V-9.
26. F. Wallace, Appraising the Economics, 1956, p. 21. The difficulty in achieving projected savings was already apparent—see P.B. Laubach and L.E. Thompson, "Electronic Computers: A Progress Report," Harvard Business Rev.,vol. 33, no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1955, p. 125.
27. R.G. Canning, "Planning for the Arrival of Electronic Data Processing," J. Machine Accounting, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1956, pp. 22-23, 30. For case studies of actual companies, see P.B. Laubach,Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing,Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957, pp. 29-121.
28. J. Dearden and F.W. McFarlan, Management Information Systems: Text and Cases, Richard D. Irwin Inc., Homewood, Ill., 1966, p. 23.
29. P.B. Laubach, Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957, p. 3.
30. A full decade later, a leading trade publication could still report that "experience has established that the installation of a computer does not obviate the need for punched card systems. In fact, the opposite may often be true," in "The Indispensable Card Machines," Business Automation, vol. 14, no. 1, January 1967, pp. 37-39.
31. Automation in the Office, Nat'l Office Management Assoc., Willow Grove, Pa., 1957. These findings are broadly in agreement with the results Cortada recently achieved by examining the frequency of discussion of particular applications in the computing and specialist business press of the era. See J.W. Cortada, "Using Textual Demographics to Understand Computer Use: 1950-1990," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 23, no. 1, Jan.-Mar. 2001, pp. 34-56.
32. The precise quotation is from a case study of an unnamed shoe company in P.B. Laubach, Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957, p. 126. The Harvard team gave the same firm's computer planning exercise a book-length treatment in E.L. Wallace,Management Influence on the Design of Data Processing Systems,Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1961.
33. P.B. Laubach, Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957.
34. For figures on IBM revenue see J. Cortada, Before the Computer: IBM, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry they Created, 1865-1956 ; Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N.J., 1993, p. 153. For the history of the tabulating machine and the importance of the Social Security Administration to IBM, see also M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray,Computer: A History of the Information Machine,Basic Books, New York, 1996. Early use of punched card machinery is discussed in A.L. Norberg, "High-Technology Calculation in the Early 20th Century: Punched Card Machinery in Business and Government," Technology and Culture,vol. 31, no. 4, Oct. 1990, pp. 753-779. Very little has been written on the clash between revolutionarily inclined computer specialists and old-school punched card experts. For an insightful Finnish analysis, see M. Vehvilainen, "Gender and Computing in Retrospect: The Case of Finland," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing,vol. 21, no. 2, Apr.-June 1999, pp. 44-51.
35. M.L. Edwards, The Effect of Automation on Accounting Jobs, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., 1959, p. 156, lists the machines in use.
36. Ibid., and F.M. Johnson, "Control of Machine Accounting Equipment," Systems and Procedures Quarterly, vol. 4, no. 2, May 1953, pp. 18-22, 26.
37. The best source on punched card careers remains M.L. Edwards, Effect of Automation, 1959. For a fascinating discussion of punched card work on the cusp of the computer age, see E.P. Daro, "Workshop Seminar on Selection and Training of Personnel," inData Processing: 1958 Proceedings,C.H. Johnson, ed., Nat'l Machine Accountants Assoc., Chicago, 1958, pp. 324-338. For an early attempt to apply scientific testing to operator selection, see E.J. McCormick and R.H. Finn, "Tests for Use in Selecting IBM Operators," J. Machine Accounting,vol. 6, no. 2, Feb. 1955, pp. 12-13, 17.
38. See M.L. Edwards Effect of Automation,1959, p. 114, on department age. For IBM's revenue, see C.J. Bashe et al.,IBM's Early Computers,MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1986. The estimate of the number of installations is from A.E. Keller, "Crisis in Machine Accounting," Management and Business Automation,vol. 5, no. 6, June 1961, pp. 30-31.
39. R.E. Sprague, "Are Punched Card Machines on the Way Out?," The Hopper, vol. 4, no. 7, July 1953, pp. 2-7.
40. Ibid.
41. Ibid., p. 4.
42. For the survey, see "Survey of the 702," Computing News, vol. 5, no. 94, 1 Feb. 1957, pp. 3-5. The quotation is from "Staff Organization and Their Training,"Computing News,vol. 5, no. 95, 15 Feb. 1957, pp. 8-11. Computer operators remained a substantial proportion of the data processing workforce for decades, but continued to be largely ignored by commentators.
43. "Business Week Reports To Readers on: Computers," Business Week, no. 1503, 21 June 1958, pp. 68-92. This company might be Prudential Insurance—for premium billing, its first application, Prudential had to convert 13 million cards, holding records of 320 characters each for three million policies. "Survey of the 702," Computing News,vol. 5, no. 94, 1 Feb. 1957, pp. 3-5. For the eventual arrival of equipment to transcribe directly onto tape, see A.L.C. Chu, "Key-to-Tape: K.O. For the Keypunch?," Business Automation,vol. 17, no 4, Apr. 1970, pp. 52-59.
44. On the importance of sorting, see D.D. McCracken, H. Weiss, and T.-h. Lee, Programming Business Computers, John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1959, pp. 300-330. On GE's reintroduction of manual sorting, see "Business Week Reports To Readers On: Computers,"Business Week,no. 1503, 21 June 1958, pp. 68-92.
45. For the origins of integrated data processing, see A New Approach to Office Mechanization: Integrated Data Processing through Common Language Machines, American Management Assoc., New York, 1954. On the use of pneumatic tubes alongside computers, see A. Newgarden, "Men, Machines and Methods in the Modern Office," AMA Management Reports,vol. 5, 1958, p. 7.
46. For early data on relative pay in computing installations, see R.F. Clippinger, B. Dimsdale, and J.H. Levin, "Automatic Digital Computers in Industrial Research," J. Machine Accounting, vol. 6, no. 2, Feb. 1955, pp. 7-11, 14-16; F. Wallace,Appraising the Economics,1956; and R.G. Canning,Installing EDP Systems,1957.
47. The first quotation is from M.L. Edwards, The Effect of Automation on Accounting Jobs, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Univ. Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., 1959. The second is from J.J. McCaffrey,From Punched Cards to Personal Computers,10 June 1989, John J. McCaffrey Memoirs (CBI 47), CBI.
48. On the SSEC (or Symbolic Sequence Electronic Calculator) and the GE installation, see H.R.J. Grosch, Computer: Bit Slices from a Life, Third Millennium Books, Novato, Calif., 1991. On IBM and design, see T. Watson Jr. and P. Petre,Father, Son&Co: My Life at IBM and Beyond,Bantam, New York, 1990.
49. A good overview of the new physical environment of the computer is given in "Basic Elements of Computer Environment," Management and Business Automation, vol. 4, no. 5, Nov. 1960, pp. 28-30, 32, 48; the quotation is from pages 29 and 48. These issues are also discussed in D.R. Daniel, "Getting the Most Out of Your Computer," EDP: The First Ten Years: Highlights of Management Experience and a Look Ahead,McKinsey&Company, ed., Am. Soc. for Public Administration, Chicago, 1961, pp. 15-21, and retrospectively in T. Kishi, "The 701 at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory," Annals of the History of Computing,vol. 5, no. 2, Apr.-June 1983, pp. 206-210.
50. The unreliability of the 604 is discussed in J.J. McCaffrey, From Punched Cards to Personal Computers,10 June 1989, John J. McCaffrey Memoirs (CBI 47), CBI. On the need for air conditioning with a 603 or 604 see B.J. Lappeus, "Moving Day... In the Machine Accounting Department," The Hopper, vol. 3, no. 3, May 1952, pp. 20-26.
51. J.B. Hughes and D.D. McCracken, "IBM 700 Series," J. Machine Accounting, vol. 7, no. 10, Oct. 1956, pp. 26-29, 48.
52. "Basic Elements of Computer Environment," Management and Business Automation, vol. 4, no. 5, 1960, p. 32.
53. Figures are taken from an internal IBM intelligence report on the Univac: W.R. Elmendorf and W.W. Peterson, A Study of the UNIVAC, IBM, 1954. Cuthbert C. Hurd papers (CBI 95), CBI. For a detailed account of physical installation, see R.G. Canning,Installing EDP Systems,1957, pp. 103-114.
54. R.W. Pomeroy, "Basic Flow Charting Techniques," Systems and Procedures, vol. 8, no. 3, Aug. 1957, pp. 2-8. Pomeroy was a management consultant, and his article was, revealingly, a plea to his fellows not to abandon their unglamorous yet proven flowcharting techniques in the face of the new fervor over electronics.
55. Inasmuch as historians have documented the existence of the systems men at all, they have been conflated with computer experts, office managers, industrial engineers, or operations researchers. In fact, they considered themselves quite separate from all these groups. See T. Haigh, "Inventing Information Systems: The Systems Men and the Computer, 1950-1968," Business History Rev., vol. 75, no. 1, Spring 2001, pp. 15-61 for their story.
56. The quotation, an early example of what was already a mantra, is from N. Chapin, "Justifying the Use of an Automatic Computer," The Hopper, vol. 5, no. 8, Sept. 1954, pp. 9-10, 14. While on the one hand, the stress on systems analysis was also a call for business reorganization (and so for revolutionary rather than incremental change), it was also a claim that office systems experts had made about dictating machines, accounting machines, and many other previous technologies. This emphasis on the analysis of business systems over technical knowledge was very familiar in theory—if not widely followed in practice.
57. I. Place, Administrative Systems Analysis—Michigan Business Reports, Number 57, Univ. Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1957.
58. Leffingwell included a detailed office flowchart in his W.H. Leffingwell, Scientific Office Management, A.W. Shaw, Chicago, 1917.
59. R.F. Neuschel, Streamlining Business Procedures,McGraw-Hill, New York, 1950.
60. A. Whitney, "How to Prepare Machine Procedures," The Hopper, vol. 4, no. 2, 1953, pp. 1-5.
61. P.B. Laubach, Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957, p. 52.
62. The best single source on early administrative programming is the first textbook devoted to the topic, D.D. McCracken, H. Weiss, and T.-H. Lee, Programming Business Computers, John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1959.
63. T. Stein, "Managing the Data Processing Department," presented at Int'l Data Processing Conf. of the Data Processing Management Assoc., New York, 1962. For case studies in which operators and programmers are either selected as part of the same pool, or share training or tasks, see R.H. Brown,Office Automation—Selecting, Training, and Organizing Computer Personnel,1959, Market and Product Reports Collection (CBI 55), CBI, and R.G. Canning,EDP for Business and Industry,1956, p. 45.
64. The quotes are from R.G. Canning, Installing EDP Systems, 1957, p. 41 and 85. Canning's stress on the separation of analysis from programming struck at least some of his contemporaries as unrealistic, suggesting that a variety of approaches could be found between different companies. See McGee, W.C., "Book Revie—Installing Electronic Data Processing Systems," Computing News,vol. 15, no. 115, 15 Dec. 1957. These jobs may have been more frequently separated in administrative computing installations than in technical computing installations. On the failure of efforts to establishcoderas a separate job, see B. Conway et al.,Business Experience with Electronic Computers,1959, pp. 88-90. Early on, detailed diagrams of computer program logic were often called block diagrams, to distinguish them from the true flowcharts that showed the flow of documents through office systems.
65. F. Wallace, Appraising the Economics, 1956, p. 24.
66. The quote is from P.B. Laubach, Company Investigations of Automatic Data Processing, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard Univ., Boston, 1957, p. 146. Similar sentiments are expressed by the manager responsible for General Electric's seminal Univac installation in G.M. Sheehan, "An Application to Payroll," Proc. Automatic Data Processing Conf., R.N. Anthony, ed., Harvard Univ., Graduate School of Business Administration, Division of Research, Boston, 1955, p. 155. The figure comes from "Business WeekReports to Readers on: Computers," Business Week,no. 1503, 21 June 1958, p. 87. See also R.H. Brown,Office Automation—Selecting, Training, and Organizing Computer Personnel,1959, Market and Product Reports Collection (CBI 55), CBI, for a discussion of programmer training, and B. Conway et al.,Business Experience with Electronic Computers,1959, pp. 83-93. For an earlier statement of the theme, see P.B. Laubach and L.E. Thompson, "Electronic Computers: A Progress Report," Harvard Business Rev., vol. 33, no. 2, Mar.-Apr. 1955, p. 127. On programmer testing, see T.C. Rowan, "The Recruiting and Training of Programmers," Datamation,vol. 4, no. 3, May-June, 1958, pp. 16-18. Those with more intimate experience of computing, such as R.G. Canning and D.D. McCracken et al., tended to put more emphasis on the need to include at least some experienced programmers in the new department.
67. J.W. Mauchly, "Electronic Accounting," The Hopper, vol. 4, no. 12, Dec. 1953, p. 2. Prominent author, consultant, and publisher Richard Canning, for example, initially felt that the electronic data processing machines should not properly be called computers or vice versa. See R.G. Canning,EDP for Business and Industry,1956, pp. 82-83.
68. Nowland&Co., Management Report: Burroughs' Corporate Image Planning and Devlopment, Nov. 1957, Burroughs Corporation Records (CBI 90), CBI. Very early use of data processing does not follow this neat divide between administrative and technical work—the scientific 701 was renamed from the defense calculator to an electronic data processing machine. But by the late 1950s the distinction was generally observed, to the extent thatcomputinganddata processingwere sometimes spoken of as distinct activities. See, for example, the reference to the "operation of a data processing or computing installation" in H.R.J. Grosch, "Software in Sickness and Health," Datamation,vol. 7, no. 7 July 1961, pp. 32-33.
69. While Levis' classic 501 denim jeans never shared its designation with an IBM model, the 501 was an RCA mainframe. In Japan, more obscure pants carrying designations such as the 701 and 702 are highly collectable today and share their names with IBM's first large computers.
70. "Glowing Future for Machine Accountants Described by Convention Speakers," J. Machine Accounting, Systems and Management, vol. 5, no. 7, July-Aug. 1954, pp. 3, 8, and T.J. Watson Jr., "Address by Thomas J. Watson Jr., President, International Business Machines Corp.," in Charles H. Johnson (ed.)Data Processing 1: 1958 Proceedings, National Machine Accounting Association, Chicago, 1958. For examples of the early discussion of the challenges and potentials of computer technology within the community of punched card supervisors, see R.G. Wright, "Electronics Challenge to Machine Accountants," J. Machine Accounting,vol. 7, no. 4, Apr. 1956, pp. 4-7, 27, L.E. Hill, "The Machine Accountant and his 'Electronic' Opportunity," J. Machine Accounting,vol. 8, no. 1, Jan. 1957, pp. 12-14, 23-25.
71. The name change was defeated on separate occasions by the Executive Committee and the chapter delegates who made up the International Board of Directors.
72. Although these tensions dogged the certificate throughout its history, they received their clearest statement during the initial planning period. See National Machine Accountants Assoc., "Executive Committee Meeting Minutes—Verbatim,"5-6 Aug. 1960, Data Processing Management Assoc. Records, (CBI 88), CBI.
73. To receive it, a candidate needed to demonstrate three years' experience with data processing (punched card or computer) and provide three references to show the "moral character" demanded of a professional. Candidates also had to pass a short test dealing with three main subjects: punched card techniques, computer technology, and "systems." (This last was a grab-bag category that included analysis and management as well as "systems machines" such as optical scanners and data transmission.) The three subjects together counted for about 80 percent of the marks. The final 20 percent were split between knowledge of paper tape (used to transfer data between telex machines, mechanical office machines, and electronic systems) and some elementary questions on statistics. Executive Committee Minutes, 31 Aug.-1 Sept. 1962, Data Processing Management Association Records (CBI 88), CBI, p. 123 and Executive Committee Minutes, 30 Nov.-1 Dec. 1962, p. 279.
74. Inasmuch as the concept of data processing has appeared in the historical literature, it has been used primarily as a neutral description of a particular kind of work. M. Campbell-Kelly, "The Railway Clearing House and Victorian Data Processing," in Information Acumen: The Understanding and Use of Knowledge in Modern Business, L. Bud-Frierman, ed., Routledge, London 1994, even extends data processing back to the 19th century—a deliberate anachronism that succeeds in highlighting surprising historical continuities, but threatens to obscure the historical specificity and culturally charged nature of the concept. The data processing concept is inextricably tied to particular technologies and to a particular concept of how they should be used and who should use them. It does not meaningfully predate the computer.
75. Even some of the most insightful recent work, such as N. Ensmenger and W. Aspray, "Software as Labor Process", in Mapping the History of Computing: Software Issues, U. Hashagen, R. Keil-Slawik, and A. Norberg, eds., Springer-Verlag, New York, (to be published) does not address the different uses to which the computer was put or to differentiate systematically between the different social institutions within which the activity of programming was practiced. Without such differentiation we cannot explore what is truly common or divergent between different kinds of computer user, and risk the reification of ideas like "the community of software workers" or "professional programmers," which imply strong identities where none existed.
76. J.S. Light, "When Computers Were Women," Technology and Culture, vol. 40, no. 3, July 1999, pp. 455-483. Light's formulation mirrors that of P. Kraft,Programmers and Managers: The Routinization of Computer Programming in the United States,Springer-Verlag, New York, 1977. A 1960 survey byManagement and Business Automationmagazine examined more than 7,000 data processing staff at 489 companies across the US. It found that less than 15 percent of the programmers surveyed were female.
77. While private trade schools offered education and tests in programming, no generally agreed standards were in place. The CDP was not a certificate for programmers—no experience in programming was required, and the DPMA never made a serious effort to interest scientific programmers in the certificate or to adapt it to their needs. The first serious attempt to provide a programming credential came with the DPMA's Registered Business Programmer (RBP) examination in 1968, when the DPMA recognized that certification of programmers might provide a valuable alternative to its supposedly broader and higher level certificate in data processing. The RBP examination (a name deliberately chosen to sound less impressive than a certificate) was greeted by widespread apathy and proved a financial disaster for the association.
78. R.G. Canning and R.L. Sisson, The Management of Data Processing, John Wiley&Sons, New York, 1967, p. 9. The idea that the data processing department remained a simple extension of the old tabulating department is also expressed strongly in E.H. Brock, "Coundown to ADP Management Crisis," inData Processing XII: Proc. 1967 Int'l Data Processing Conf. and Business Exposition,Data Processing Management Assoc., ed., Chicago, 1967, p. 213.
79. "Business Week Reports To Readers on: Computers," Business Week, no. 1503, 21 June 1958, p. 59.
80. For a good summary of the "productivity paradox" discussion, see D.E. Sichel, "Computers and Aggregate Economic Growth: An Update," Business Economics, vol. 34, no. 2, Apr. 1999, pp. 18-25, and J. Madrick, "Computers: Waiting for the Revolution," inNew York Rev. of Books,vol. 45, 1998, pp. 29-33.
81. On disruptive technologies, see C.M. Christensen, Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 1997.
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