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From Computer Celebrities to Historical Biography
October-December 2011 (vol. 33 no. 4)
pp. 88, 86-87
Nathan Ensmenger, University of Texas

The dominance of the celebrity biography in the popular history of computing poses some significant challenges for scholarly historians. Much of the literature in this genre, while entertaining, is more sensational than meticulous. So how can historians of computing take advantage of the appeal and power of biography without succumbing to its pitfalls? Nathan Ensmenger looks at why popular biographies of high-profile figures tend toward formulaic, deterministic narratives and explores possible future approaches to producing more rigorous scholarly biographies.

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Index Terms:
history of computing, celebrity biography, historical biography, hagiographies, prosopography, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg
Nathan Ensmenger, "From Computer Celebrities to Historical Biography," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 88, 86-87, Oct.-Dec. 2011, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2011.72
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