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Issue No.03 - July-Sept. (2012 vol.34)
pp: 22-33
J. Alvarez , Univ. of Chile, Santiago, Chile
C. Gutierrez , Univ. of Chile, Santiago, Chile
Digital computing in Chile dates back to the years between 1961, when the first digital computer arrived in the country, and 1982, when the discipline reached a critical mass in equipment, personnel, education, research, and applications. The authors distinguish three stages in this historical period: the introduction of computers; the convergence and consolidation of academic, state, and industrial development; and the expansion of the discipline.
history, digital computers, critical mass, digital computing, Chile, digital computer, Digital systems, Computers, South America, Programming, History, Data processing, Latin America, Computers, Educational institutions, Companies, Programming, Training, Convergence, Chile, history of computing, data processing, Chilean history
J. Alvarez, C. Gutierrez, "History of Computing in Chile, 1961-1982: Early Years, Consolidation, and Expansion", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.34, no. 3, pp. 22-33, July-Sept. 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.17
1. J.W. Cortada, "How Did Computing Go Global? The Need for an Answer and a Research Agenda," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 26, no. 1, 2004, pp. 53–58.
2. J.P. de Albuquerque et al., "Challenging the Ontology of Technoscientific Artifacts: Actor-Network Theory in the Context of Developing Countries," Proc. Int'l Workshop Understanding Development Through Actor-Network Theory, LSE, 2011; M. Carmagnani, The Other West. Latin America from Invasion to Globalization, Univ. of Calif. Press, 2011.
3. T.J. Misa, "Understanding 'How Computing Has Changed the World,'" IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 19, no. 4, 2007, pp. 52–63; J.W. Cortada, "Patterns and Practices in How Information Technology Spread around the World," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 30, no. 4, 2008, pp. 4–25.
4. J. Aguirre and R. Carnota eds., Historia de la Informática en Latino América y el Caribe, [History of Computing in Latin America and the Caribbean], Univ. Nacional Rio Cuarto, Argentina, 2009; I Simposio de Historia de la Informática en América Latina y el Caribe [Symposium on the History of Computing in Latin America and the Caribbean], 2010; .
5. S. Collier and W.F. Sater, History of Chile, 1808–2002, 2nd ed., Cambridge Latin Am. Studies Series 82, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
6. Several works support this view: S.E. Goodman "Computing in a Less Developed Country," Comm. ACM, vol. 34, no. 12, 1991, pp. 25–29; R.A. Baeza-Yates et al., "Computing in Chile: The Jaguar of the Pacific Rim?" Comm. ACM, vol. 38, no. 9, 1995, pp. 23–28; M. Barrera, La Difusión de la Tecnología Computacional en una Economía Abierta [The Diffusion of Computer Technology in an Open Economy], working document no. 4, Centro Estudios Sociales, July 1986.
7. E. Medina, "The State Machine: Politics, Ideology, and Computation in Chile, 1964-1973," doctoral dissertation, Dept. of History and Social Study of Science and Technology, Massachusetts Inst. of Technology, 2005.
8. R. Harnecker et al., "Política Chilena de telecomunicaciones" [Chilean Telecommunications Policy], Anales del Instituto de Ingenieros [Annals of Inst. of Engineers], nos. 5–6, 1954, p. 117.
9. L. Ortega Martínez et al., "CORFO: 50 años de realizaciones 1939–1989" [CORFO: 50 Years of Achievements, 1939–1989], History Dept., Univ. of Santiago, 1989.
10. L. González, "Elementos de Contabilidad Mecanizada" [Mechanized Elements of Accounting], Memoria de Contador Auditor [Accountant Auditor Report], Univ. of Chile, 1967. See also Medina, "The State Machine," chap. 2.
11. E. Bachmann Kehr, "Máquina para Cálculo de Integrales" [Machine Calculation of Integrals], School of Eng., Univ. of Chile, 1944.
12. G. González, "Reseña de los Orígenes del Departamento de Ingeniería Eléctrica de la Universidad de Chile: El Instituto de Investigaciones y Ensayes Eléctricos" [Overview of the Origins of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Chile: The Institute of Electrical Research and Assays], Scientific Research and National Development (ICARE), 1959.
13. J. Hernández, "Aspectos de los Comienzos de la Computación en la UTFSM" [Aspects of Early Computing in UTFSM], 15 Dec. 2008.
14. Carlos Grandjot, "Resolución numérica de ecuaciones algebraicas" [Numerical Solution of Algebraic Equations], publication no. 12, Electronic Computing Lab., Catholic Univ., 1965.
15. E. Medina, "Big Blue in the Bottomless Pit: The Early Years of IBM Chile," IEEE Annals of History of Computing, vol. 30, no. 4, 2008, pp. 26–41.
16. G. Fliess and R. Cabezas, (Aduana contemporary staff) and F. Cavada (IBM system support staff), interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, Aug. 2010. See J. Alvarez, "El primer computador digital en Chile" [The First Digital Computer in Chile], Revista BITS [BITS Magazine], no. 6, 2011. pp. 19–24; 6/#/page20-21.
17. "Computador Electrónico 1401" [Electronic Computer 1401], Ann. Report 1964, State Railways, Chile, p. 12; "Instrucciones relacionadas con la próxima recepción de computador" [Instructions on the Next Computer Desk], Boletín de la Dirección de Impuestos Internos [Bulletin of the Inland Revenue], vol. IX, no. 108, 1962, pp. 3270–3272; F. Villanueva, A. Acle, F. Cavada, and P. Maturana (IBM contemporary executives), interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez4 May 2009.
18. W. Muñoz, O. Sáez, and J. Durán interview by J. Alvarez, Jan. 2009; they were part of the first group of engineers that developed the first applications. All of them studied at the Tech. Univ. Federico Santa Marí, a and were influenced by J. Hernández.
19. This information was provided by G. González in his presentation in the first Workshop of History of Computing in Chile, 2009.
20. The machine donation was arranged by J. Michelow. Information provided by J. Michelow interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, 2009.
21. "Acta del Consejo de la Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas" [Minutes of Council of the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics], 17 Aug. 1961.
22. Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics, "El Centro de Computación" [The Computing Center], 1964, pp. 24–31.
23. G. González, "Curso de Programación del Computador ER-56" [Computer Programming Course ER-56], 1961.
24. UTFSM monthly newsletter, no. 25, Sept. 1963, p. 3. R. Frucht was a German graph theorist who came to Chile in the late 1930s. A summer school Fortran course introduced the Tech. Univ. Federico Santa María community to the recently acquired IBM 1620.
25. A. Kardonsky and V. Sánchez (revision), "Curso de Programación" [Programming Course], Computer Center, Univ. of Chile, 1965.
26. See Ortega Martínez et al., "CORFO," especially the chap. "La Corfo entre 1965 y 1970", [The Corfo Between 1965 and 1970].
27. E. Friedmann, "El Centro de Tratamiento Electrónico de la Información y su significación para nuestro país" [Electronic Processing Center of Information and its Significance for our Country], Boletín de la Universidad de Chile [Bulletin of the Univ. of Chile], no. 74, May 1967, pp. 11–14.
28. H. Segovia, P. Fritis, and V. Sánchez interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, Jan. 2009; they were the creators of the first university career program in computer science at the Univ. of Chile in 1968. Information about Univ. of Concepcion and Catholic Univ. taken from presentations of Y. Farrán, and I. Casas (respectively) at Workshop of History of Computing in Chile, Nov. 2009.
29. C. Lauterbach interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, Mar. 2011. See also the presentation by W. Riesenkönig, and A. Migliaro at the I Workshop on Chilean Computer History, Nov. 2009.
30. J. Alvarez, "Antecedentes, creación y primeros años del Departamento de Ciencias de la Computación de la Universidad de Chile", [History, Creation and Early Years of the Department of Computer Science, University of Chile], Revista BITS; no. 4, 2010; . C. Castro, "Algunos Antecedentes Sobre la Historia de la Computación en la UTFSM" [Some Background on the History of Computing in UTFSM], Proc. 1st Workshop of History of Computing in Chile, 2009; C. Castro, and J. Gana, "Algunos Antecedentes Sobre el Programa de Magister en Ciencias de la Computación e Informática de la UTFSM" [Some Background About the Master's Program in Computer Science and Informatics UTFSM], Proc. 1st Workshop of History of Computing in Chile, 2009.
31. J. Michelow interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, Apr. 2009. The textbook is J. Michelow, and I. Harding, Elementos de Computación [Elements of Computing], Edit. Universitaria, 1973.
32. Presentations of ECOM contemporary executives R. Beca, H. Segovia, I. Bozzi, and I. Benadof at in the "40 Years of the Creation of ECOM" Meeting, Dec. 2008.
33. A detailed description of these developments is available in the conference documentation: Facilidades de Procesamiento Electrónico de Datos para Empresas y Organismos Gubernamentales, [Electronic Data Processing Facilities for Business and Government Agencies], ECOM, 12 June 1973.
34. E. Medina, Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende's Chile, MIT Press, 2011. The original report is Project SYNCO, "Conceptos y Práctica del Control; Una experiencia concreta: la dirección industrial en Chile" [Concepts and Practice of Control. A Concrete Experience: Industrial Management in Chile], CORFO, Feb. 1973. See also the Project Cybersyn website,
35. "LatinData, Obras son Amores" [LatinData, Actions Speak Louder], Informática, vol. 1, no. 9, 1979, pp. 11–14.
36. "Rebaja derecho ad valorem a bienes de capital que indica" [Reduced Duty to Capital Goods Indicated], decree 1130, Ministerio de Hacienda [Ministry of Finance], 19 July 1974. This decree was suspiciously "urgent" (only applicable to those imports before Dec. 1974), and it referred only to "magnetic readers." A new decree, 1383, on 3 Sept. 1974 changed the wording "magnetic readers" to "automated machines for information processing." In her doctoral dissertation, Medina estimates the tax drop from 120 to 10 percent (p. 318).
37. "Plan Nacional de Capacitación Intensiva en Procesamiento de Datos" [National Training Intensive Data Processing], Boletín ECOM, vol. 1, no. 5, 1975, pp. 72–82. The plan's development is analyzed in F. Silva, "Formación de Recursos Humanos en Procesamiento de Datos" [Human Resources Training in Data Processing], Proc. Tercer Panel de Discusión sobre Tópicos de Computación [Proc. 3rd Panel Discussion on Computer Topics], Valparaíso, 1976, pp. 215–225.
38. T. Villalba, "Banco del Estado de Chile: Cien años de sobriedad (Entrevista por S. Prenafeta)" [State Bank of Chile: One hundred Years of Sobriety (interview with S. Prenafeta)], Informática, vol. 6, no. 8, 1984, pp. 8–12.
39. Wolfgang Riesenkönig, presentation at the I Workshop of History of Computing in Chile (2009). Also A. Finerman, "Computing Capabilities at Argentina and Chilean Universities," Comm. ACM, vol. 12, no. 8, 1969, pp. 425–431.
40. "Centro Regional de Computación e Informática de Concepción Ltda. S.P.A., CRECIC" [Regional Center of Design Computing and Informatics Ltd. SPA CRECIC], Seminario de Administración de Centros de Procesamiento de Datos, Estudio de Casos [Seminar on Management of Data Processing Centers, Case Studies], Univ. of Chile, 1976, pp. 19–33.
41. For Sonda's history, see
42. "ARIEL, Embajador de un software Autóctono" [ARIEL: Ambassador of Native Software], interview with J. Muñoz Porras, Informática, vol. 5, no. 10, 1983, pp. 6–10.
43. See the whole point of view in Medina, "The State Machine," introduction.
44. Decree 887, 1975, Official Journal,18 Aug. 1975.
45. "The Application of Computer Technology for Development," Second Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations, 1973.
46. J. Durán, A. Castruccio, and O. García, "Desarrollo de la utilización de la tecnología de computadores en Chile" [Developing the Use of Computer Technology in Chile], Informática, vol. 1, no. 3, 1979, pp. 21–26.
47. R.C. Barquin, "Some Political Effects of Computation in Latin America," working paper 655–73, A.P. Sloan School of Management, MIT, 1973.
48. BIRDS: Proc. 1a. Conferencia Nacional en Teoría de la Computación y Desarrollo de Software, Aug. 1979, pp. 128–140. For Registro Civil, C. Lauterbach interview by J. Alvarez, and C. Gutierrez, Mar. 2011.
49. Some of the first to return with PhDs from foreign universities were Carlos Lauterbach (University of California, Berkeley, 1977) to Catholic University; Atendolfo Pereda (PUC Rio Janeiro, 1979) to University of Concepcion; Raúl Camposano (Karlsruhe, 1981) to the Northern University in Antofagasta; and Alfredo Piquer and Patricio Poblete (University of Waterloo, 1982) to University of Chile.
50. Simposio Nacional de Aplicaciones Computación e Informática [Proc. Nat'l Symp. Computer Applications and Information], Northern Univ., Antofagasta, 1979.
51. J. Durán, "Incremento del Parque de Computadores en Chile, período Enero 1979 a Junio 1980" [Increase Computer Park in Chile, January 1979 to June 1980], Informática, vol. 2, no. 8, 1980, pp. 32–36.
52. Informática was created in 1979, and directed by José Pino a professor at the Univ. of Chile.
53. C. Lauterbach, "La Computación se prestigia con Orden" [Computer is Very Proud to Order], Informática, vol. 4, no. 6, 1982, pp. 18–22. Information reaffirmed in interview with Lauterbach, Mar. 2011.
54. "Seminario de Administración de Centros de Procesamiento de Datos, Estudio de Casos" [Seminar on Management of Data Processing Centers, Case Studies], Univ. of Chile, 1976. For Codelco, see J. Acuña, "La Informática en Codelco Chile" [Informatics in Codelco Chile], Revista Colegio de Ingenieros [College of Eng. Magazine], no. 74, 1977, pp. 71–72.
55. Medina, "The State Machine," pp. 319–325.
56. Information provided in 2011 by J. Chateau, P. Gutiérrez, C. Garretón, and J. Alvarez contemporary members of the project.
57. E. Friedmann,, "The Informatics Revolution and the Developing Countries," North-South Roundtable, Pakistan, 1986.
58. G. Jiménez, "Aprendizaje y Computación: Una brillante realidad" [Learning and Computing: A Brilliant Reality], Revista Creces [Scientist], vol. 4, nos. 6–7, 1983, pp. 19–30.
59. J. Piquer, "Antes del Internet" [Before the Internet], Revista BITS [BITS Magazine], no. 2, 2009, pp. 10–13. See also remembrances by P. Poblete, J. Piquer, E. Krell, and S. Mujica in "El primer e-mail de Chile se envió desde Beauchef" [The First Chilean Email Was Sent from Beauchef], Revista FCFM, no. 50, 2011, pp. 48–51.
60. "The Application of Computer Technology for Development, Report of the Secretary-General,", report E-4800 GE-70-11926, United Nations Economic and Social Council, 1970.
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