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Cold War Origins of the International Federation for Information Processing
April-June 2010 (vol. 32 no. 2)
pp. 46-57
Ksenia Tatarchenko, Princeton University

The International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) was born as a nongovernmental federation with the main goal of bringing together computer professionals from countries in the East and West. This article examines the Cold War context of the IFIP's origins and the mechanisms its founders used to reconcile computing and politics and to construct computing as an international discipline.

1. H. Zemanek, "IFIP and International Cooperation," 36 Years of IFIP; .
2. P. Edwards, The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, MIT Press, 1996.
3. The first international history of computing article is from W. Aspray, "International Diffusion of Computer Technology, 1945–1955," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 8, no. 4, 1986, pp. 351–360. On the triple nature of computing, see M.S. Mahoney, "The History of Computing in the History of Technology," Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 10, no. 2, 1988, pp. 113–125.
4. On the challenges and promises of international and transnational computing history, see J.W. Cortada, "How Did Computing Go Global? The Need for an Answer and a Research Agenda," IEEE Annals, vol. 26, no. 1, 2004, pp. 53–58; C. Schlombs, "Toward International Computing History," IEEE Annals, vol. 28, no. 1, 2006, pp. 108–109; T.J. Misa, "Understanding How Computing Has Changed the World," IEEE Annals, vol. 29, no. 4, 2007, pp. 52–63; and J.R. Yost, "From the Editor's Desk," IEEE Annals, vol. 30, no. 4, 2008, pp. 2–3. On the business path in the transatlantic transfer of computing technology exemplified by the IBM and Remington Rand, see C. Schlombs, "Productivity Machines: Transatlantic Transfer of Computing Technology and Culture," doctoral dissertation, Univ. of Pennsylvania, 2009. The main works analyzing the scientific path are S. Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak: A History of Soviet Cybernetics, MIT Press, 2002, and D. Mindell, J. Ségal, and S. Gerovitch, "From Communications Engineering to Communications Science: Cybernetics and Information Theory in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union," Science and Ideology, M. Walker ed., Routledge, 2003, pp. 66–96.
5. This article is based on a critical reading of I. Auerbach, "Personal Recollections on the Origin of IFIP," A Quarter Century of IFIP, H. Zemanek, ed., North Holland, 1986, pp. 41–69, in the light of later published memoirs by other IFIP members and of archival materials complemented by oral history. See also Zemanek's 36 Years of IFIP, ; Charles Babbage Inst. (CBI) archive, Isaac Auerbach Collection, CBI 52; and Int'l Computing Collection, CBI 62. Some documents are from the Andrey Ershov Archive, , and the Unesco archive, http://www.unesco.orgarchives/. N.B. Stern, "Interview with I.L. Auerbach," CBI Oral History Collection, OH 2, 10 Apr. 1978; B. Bruemmer, "Interview with I.L. Auerbach," CBI Oral History Collection, OH 241, 2–3 Oct. 1992, Some opinions were expressed to K. Tatarchenko by J. Carteron, the French founder of the IFIP, (2006, Bougival, France), and F. Genius, IBM France and French representative to the WG II (2006–2007, Paris, France).
6. T.J. Misa, "Understanding How Computing Has Changed the World," p. 59.
7. J. Krige, American Hegemony and the Postwar Reconstruction of Science in Europe, MIT Press, 2006.
8. T.J. Misa and J. Shot, "Inventing Europe: Technology and the Hidden Integration of Europe," History and Technology, vol. 21, no.1, 2005, pp. 1–19; E. van der Vleuten, and A. Kaijser eds., , Networking Europe: Transnational Infrastructures and the Shaping of Europe, 1850–2000, Science History Publications, 2006. http://www.histech.nlappram2009/.
9. W. Aspray, "International Diffusion of Computer Technology, 1945–1955," p. 352.
10. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 41.
11. "Obituaries: Isaac L. Auerbach (1921–1992)," 36 years of IFIP, . On the difficult relations between Auerbach and Howard Aiken while at Harvard, see B. Cohen, Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer, MIT Press, 2000, p. 3.
12. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 42.
13. H. Grosch quoted in T. Haigh, "Technology, Information and Power: Managerial Technicians in Corporate America, 1917–2000," doctoral dissertation, Univ. of Pennsylvania, 2003, p. 635.
14. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 42.
15. C. Schlombs, "Engineering International Expansion: IBM and Remington Rand in European Computer Markets," IEEE Annals, vol. 30, no. 4, 2008, p. 42.
16. Auerbach, "Recollections," Appendix A: Proposal for an International Conference on Information Processing Systems, pp. 63–67. Further quoted as Proposal.
17. H.H. Goldstein, The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann, Princeton Univ. Press, 1972, p. 353.
18. A. Housholder, "Digital Computers in Eastern Europe," Computers and Automation, vol. 4, no. 12, 1955, p. 8.
19. See the Darmstadt conf. proc., Nachrichtentechnische Fachberichte, vol. 4, Braunschweig, 1956.
20. On Algol, see D. Nofre, "Unraveling Algol: US, Europe, and the Creation of a Programming Language, 1955–1960," IEEE Annals, vol. 32, no. 2, 2010, pp. xx–xx. Zemanek describes the establishment of the Working Groups over Technical Committees in IFIP in "The IFIP General Assembly Representative," 36 years of IFIP.
21. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 45.
22. Goldstein, The Computer, p. 322.
23. Letter of B.V. Bowden commercial director at Ferranti, to Lord Halsbury, director of NRDC, 21 Apr. 1953, citation from P. Mounier-Kuhn, "The Unesco International Computing Center in Rome," Tensions of Europe/Inventing Europe, working paper no. 2009_3, p. 5.
24. A. Hermann et al., eds., History of CERN, North- Holland Physics Publisher, vol. 1, 1987–1996, p. 65.
25. P. Petitjean, "Cool Heads in the Cold War: Pierre Auger and the Founding of CERN," Sixty Years of Science at Unesco 1945–2005, Unesco, 2006, pp. 57–60.
26. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 48.
27. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 45.
28. Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, p. 157.
29. D. Panov quoted in Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, pp.157–158.
30. For an example of the historiographic debates in the studies of Soviet science, see A. Kojevnikov, "Toward a Post-Cold War Historiography (a Reply to David Joravsky)," Russian Review, vol. 57, no. 3, 1998, pp. 455–459.
31. For example, see G.D. Crowe and S.E. Goodman, "S.A. Lebedev and the Birth of Soviet Computing," IEEE Annals, vol. 16, no. 1, 1994, pp. 4–24, and A. Fitzpatrick, T. Kazakova, and S. Berkovich, "MESM and the Beginning of the Computer Era in the Soviet Union," IEEE Annals, vol. 28, no. 3, 2006, pp. 4–17.
32. H. Ichikawa, "Strela-1, The First Soviet Computer: Political Success and Technological Failure," IEEE Annals, vol. 28, no. 3, 2006, pp. 18–31. Ichikawa quotes the SKB-245 report claiming that BESM was "a mere copy of American machines or Soviet machines," p. 24.
33. Gerovitch, From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, pp. 148–149, and Ichikawa, "Strela-1," p. 28.
34. Ichikawa, "Strela-1," pp. 24, 31. Compare to Housholder, "Digital Computers in Eastern Europe," p. 8.
35. Auerbach, "Proposal," p. 66.
36. Gerovitch mentions the governmental resolutions regulating scientific trips adapted in 1955–1956, such as Gerovitch, "On the Reorganization of Research Trips of Soviet Specialists Abroad for the Study of Achievements of Foreign Science and Technology and on the Improvement of the Use of Trip Reports in the USSR Ministries and Agencies," From Newspeak to Cyberspeak, p. 156. On the Soviet participation in Unesco, see I.V. Gaiduk, "L'Union sovietique et l'Unesco pendant la guerre froide," 60 ans d'histoire de l'Unesco, pp. 256–260; http://www.unesco.orgarchives/.
37. Auerbach, "Proposal," p. 67.
38. J.D. Hamblin, Oceanographers and the Cold War: Disciples of Marine Science, Univ. of Washington Press, 2005, pp. 92–98.
39. D. Kaiser, "The Physics of Spin: Sputnik Politics and American Physicists in the 1950s," Social Research, vol. 73, winter 2006, pp. 1225–1252.
40. "ONR Symposium Report, ACR–37," Proc. Data Processing Seminar on Status of Digital Computer and Data Processing Developments in the Soviet Union, Office of Naval Research, Dept. of the Navy, 1958, in CBI 62, box 6, folder "USSR: U.S. Navy Seminar." Also see J.W. Carr III, "Report on a Return Visit to the Soviet Union by Four American Digital Computer Specialists," CBI 62, box 6, folder USSR: misc., 2, pp. 1-29.
41. "ACRI–37," p. 153. A parenthetical note in the text indicates that this does not include electrical engineers or pure mathematicians.
42. "ACRI–37," p. 154.
43. "ACRI–37," p. 179.
44. "ACRI–37," p. 167–168.
45. Carr, III, CBI 62, pp. 1–2. A more equilibrated group went to the Soviet Union in 1959, see W.H. Ware ed., "RM–2541, Soviet Computer Technology–1959," Computer Science Dept., RAND Corporation, 1 Mar. 1960, CBI 62, box 6.
46. Auerbach left Burroughs in 1957 to set up his own company, the Auerbach Corporation for Science and Technology, which spawned a dozen subsidiary companies including a computer publishing concern and international business ventures. He was the chief executive of Auerbach until 1982 but remained active in various business ventures until his death. See S. Faison, "Isaac L. Auerbach Is Dead at 71; Was Early Advocate of Computers," New York Times, 26 Dec. 1992; isaac-l-auerbach-is-dead-at- 71-was-early-advocate-of-computers.html? pagewanted=1 . The double burden of simultaneously creating a new company and international federation paid off: "As you can tell from the number of contracts we were receiving, this was going great. I see that I did a major study of European computers in 1960 following the conference sponsored by Unesco. I see that I had two, four, six engagements to go out and give a lecture to these people on European computer technology. None of this hurt [laughs]." Auerbach, OH 241, p 57.
47. T. Haigh doctoral dissertation, "Pan-Computer Professionalism: Data Processing Meets Computing," chapt. 11, pp. 611, 622–624.
48. Auerbach, "Proposal," p. 65.
49. For a full program of the conference, see the Conference Journal at ulis/ 2_133&gp=1&mode=e&lin=1&ll=1 .
50. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 44.
51. Auerbach, OH 241, p. 91. For more on Aiken, see B. Cohen's, Howard Aiken and I.B. Cohen, G.W. Welch, and V.D. Campbell eds., , Makin' Numbers: Howard Aiken and the Computer, MIT Press, 1999.
52. Auerbach, "Recollections," pp. 50–51.
53. The issue of the Soviet Bloc countries' representation through their Academies of Sciences requires further investigation. At the time of the ICIP, there was no professional society for computing in the USSR. Interestingly, Auerbach documents record the presence of Yuri Bazilevskii at the ICIP, as the "representative" of his chief enemy, the Soviet Academy of Science ("Report on the Preparatory Meeting Held at Unesco House, Paris, on 18 June 1959," CBI 52, box 2, folder 13). In 1959, Bazilevskii was a scientific deputy director of the special design bureau, known as SKB-245, and worked on the computer for the antiaircraft defense system. See Basilevskiy.htm.
54. "Recollections," pp. 52–53.
55. Auerbach, OH 241, p. 89.
56. A.A. Dorodnitsyn, "Justification of the USSR AS Need to Join IFIP," Ershov Archive, 9 Oct. 1959; 2&did=28&fileid=78246 . On the scope of Dorodnitsyn's activities in the IFIP, see obituary by H. Zemanek in 36 years of IFIP.
57. "Auerbach to Edgar Brooke, Director of Media Content," CBI 52, box 1, folder 9, 21 Aug. 1961.
58. On SAGE, see Edwards, "SAGE," chapt. 3, The Closed World, and M. Campbell-Kelly and W. Aspray, "Real Time: Reaping the Whirlwind," chapt. 7, The Computer: A History of the Information Machine, Basic Books, 1996.
59. R. Tanaka, "IFIP and the USA," 36 years of IFIP.
60. Auerbach, OH 241, p. 100.
61. Auerbach, "IFIP—Early Years," A Quarter Century of IFIP, p. 89.
62. Auerbach, "Recollections," p. 55.
63. For examples and further references, see J. Krige, "Atoms for Peace, Scientific Internationalism, and Scientific Intelligence," Global Power Knowledge: Science and Technology in International Affairs, vol. 21, J. Krige, and K.-H. Barth eds., Univ. of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 161–182; K. Osgood, "Spinning the Friendly Atom," chapt. 5, , Total Cold War: Eisenhower's Secret Propaganda Battle at Home and Abroad, Univ. Press of Kansas, 2006, pp. 153–180; Hamblin, "The International Geophysical Year, 1957–1958," chapt. 3, Oceanographers and the Cold War, pp. 59–98; and C.A. Miller, "Scientific Internationalism in American Foreign Policy: The Case of Meteorology (1947–1958)," Changing the Atmosphere: Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance, C.A. Miller, and P.N. Edwards MIT Press, 2001, pp. 167–218.
64. , For discussion and further references, see N. Krementsov, International Science Between the World Wars: The Case of Genetics, Routledge, 2005, pp. 4–9.
65. Krige, "Atoms for Peace," p. 167.
66. Hamblin, Oceanographers and the Cold War, p. 177.
67. For more information, see http:/www.wcc2010. org/ and .

Index Terms:
IFIP, UNESCO, Cold War, Soviet computing, international cooperation, history of computing
Ksenia Tatarchenko, "Cold War Origins of the International Federation for Information Processing," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 46-57, April-June 2010, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2010.8
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