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April-June 2012 (vol. 34 no. 2)
pp. 88, 86-87
Gerardo Con Diaz, Yale University
The study of ownership in the history of computing presents a rich opportunity to analyze the interplay between IP and technological development. Although historians of computing usually acknowledge the importance of this area, the broader history of ownership and computing has been generally overlooked. This Think Piece shows how historians of computing can draw from, and contribute to, work on the history of ownership. The author focuses on the period between the 1940s and 1980s, during which the legal frameworks for the ownership of machines and programs that we know today began to develop.

1. Trademarks, the fourth major form of intellectual protection, have been less problematic in the history of computing.
2. See M. Campbell-Kelly, "Not All Bad: An Historical Perspective on Software Patents," Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Rev., vol. 11, no. 191, 2004–2005, pp. 191–248.
3. This Think Piece is based on my upcoming doctoral dissertation, "Regulating a Revolution: Ownership and the History of American Computing, 1940–1981," Dept. of History, Program in the History of Science and Medicine, Yale Univ.
4. For legal historians, this is a time during which strict antitrust enforcement and judicial attacks on the validity of patents discouraged businesses from patenting their inventions. For historians of computing, the same period is central to narratives about technologies that predate the widespread establishment of home computing.
5. P. Samuelson, "The Strange Odyssey of Software Interfaces as IP," Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, M. Biagioli, P. Jaszi, and M. Woodmansee eds., Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011, pp. 321–338.
6. For example, see M. Biagioli, P. Jaszi, and M. Woodmansee eds., , Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, Univ. of Chicago Press, 2011.
7. For example, see L. Heide, "Facilitating and Restricting a Challenger: Patents and Standards in the Development of the Bull-Knutsen Punched Card System, 1919–1938," Business History, vol. 51, no. 1, 2009, pp. 28–44.

Index Terms:
history of computing, patents, software patents, intellectual property, US Patent and Trademark Office, National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works, CONTU, business history
Gerardo Con Diaz, "Ownership and the History of American Computing," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 88, 86-87, April-June 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.29
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