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Issue No.02 - April-June (2012 vol.34)
pp: 20-33
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo , Bangor University, UK
Thomas Haigh , University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
The Mexican civil engineering firm ICA installed its first computer, an IBM 1130, in 1966. By documenting the development of ICA's computing efforts over almost 15 years, the authors trace the influence of personnel and company practices, examine the development of technical and administrative applications, and explore the computer center's story within the broader history of ICA.
history of computing, computer centers, history, data processing, computer integrated engineering, ICA, Mexico
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo, Thomas Haigh, "Engineering Change: The Appropriation of Computer Technology at Grupo ICA in Mexico (1965–1971)", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.34, no. 2, pp. 20-33, April-June 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.22
1. M.S. Mahoney, "The Histories of Computing(s)," Interdisciplinary Science Rev., vol. 30, no. 2, 2005, pp. 119–135.
2. A classic call for attention to users in the history of technology is R.S. Cowan, "The Consumption Junction: A Proposal for Research Strategies in the Sociology of Technology," The Social Construction of Technological Systems, W.E. Bijker, T. Pinch, and T.P. Hughes eds., MIT Press, 1987, pp. 261–280. A recent, highly influential sampling of work in science studies on users was given in N. Oudshoorn, and T. Pinch eds., , How Users Matter: The Co-construction of Users and Technology, MIT Press, 2003.
3. J. Yates, "How Business Enterprises Use Technology: Extending the Demand-Side Turn," Enterprise and Society, vol. 7, no. 3, 2006, pp. 422–455.
4. J. Yates, Structuring the Information Age, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2005.
5. The early establishment of identities, practices, and division of labor in administrative computing is explored in T. Haigh, "The Chromium-Plated Tabulator: Institutionalizing an Electronic Revolution, 1954–1958," IEEE Annals, vol. 23, no. 4, 2001, pp. 75–104.
6. Expertise has been a central topic in science studies for many years. For a broad and recent examination, see H. Collins and R. Evans, Rethinking Expertise, Univ. of Chicago Press, 2007.
7. J.W. Cortada, The Digital Hand: How Computers Changed the Work of American Manufacturing, Transportation, and Retail Industries, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003; J.W. Cortada, The Digital Hand, Volume 2: How Computers Changed the Work of American Financial, Telecommunications, Media, and Entertainment Industries, Oxford Univ. Press, 2006; J.W. Cortada, The Digital Hand, Volume 3: How Computers Changed the Work of American Public Sector Industries, Oxford Univ. Press, 2007.
8. Discussion of the appropriation of technology emerged recently as an alternative to the idea of its use or consumption. It implies a more active and creative role for the recipient. Early use was often intended to grant historical agency to members of marginalized social groups—as described, for example, in much of the work in R. Eglash et al., eds., Appropriating Technology: Vernacular Science and Social Power, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2004. However, it has also been used to describe international transfer of technology, for example, see M. Hård, and A. Jamison eds., The Intellectual Appropriation of Technology: Discourses on Modernity, 1900–1939, MIT Press, 1998. The concept recently gained currency within the history of computing as a way of conceptualizing the international transfer of computer technology from the US to Europe, an idea discussed in a recent special issue of IEEE Annals: G. Alberts, "Appropriating America: Americanization in the History of European Computing" IEEE Annals, vol. 32, no. 2, 2010, pp. 4–7.
9. Mahoney, "The Histories of Computing(s)."
10. In addition to Yates' work, this includes D. de Wit, , The Shaping of Automation: A Historical Analysis of the Interaction between Technology and Organization, 1950–1985, Verloren, 1994. There has been an increasing interest in Europe for similar studies in banking as suggested by contributions in B. Bátiz-Lazo et al., eds., Technological Innovation in Retail Finance: International Historical Perspectives, Routledge, 2011.
11. On computing in Mexico, see A. Cantarell, and M. González, Historia de la computación en México [History of Computing in Mexico], three vols., Hobbiton Ediciones, 2000, and L.A. Lomnitz, and L. Chárazo, "Basic, Applied and Technological Research: Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico," Social Studies of Science, vol. 29, no. 1, 1999, pp. 113–134. Developments in Chile during the 1970s are explored in E. Medina, "Designing Freedom, Regulating a Nation: Socialist Cybernetics in Allende's Chile," J. Latin American Studies, vol. 38, no. 3, 2006, pp. 571–606, and E. Medina, "Big Blue in the Bottomless Pit: The Early Years of IBM Chile," IEEE Annals, vol. 30, no. 4, 2008, pp. 26–41.
12. Namely two UNAM civil engineering graduates— Antonio Dovalí Ramos (Aereofoto general manager, 1965–1969) José Piña Garza (computer center manager, 1965–1971)—, and two graduates of a private university, Universidad Iberoamericana: Luis Enrique Maumejean (civil engineering computer analyst, 1965–, 1973 and systems manager, 1974–1984) and Bernardo Bátiz-Echavarria (industrial relations operations manager, 1964–1984).
13. L. Hoddeson,, "Writing Recent Science: The Historiography of Contemporary Science, Technology, and Medicinem," The Conflict of Memories and Documents: Dilemmas and Pragmatics of Oral History, R.E. Doel, and T. Söderqvist eds., Routledge, 2006, pp. 187–200.
14. Among others, see F. de Rossi, El empresario mexicano [The Mexican Businessman], UNAM, 1977,, and S.L. Babb, Managing Mexico: Economics from Nationalism to Neoliberalism, Princeton Univ. Press, 2001.
15. R.A. Camp, Mexico's Mandarins, Crafting a Power Elite for the 21st Century, Univ. of California Press, 2002, and R.A. Camp, "Informal and Formal Networking Among Elite Mexican Capitalists and Politicians," Comparative Sociology, vol. 2, no. 3, 2002, pp. 135–154.
16. E. Cárdenas, "El proceso de industrialización acelerada en México (1929–1982)" [The Process of Rapid Industrialization in Mexico (1929–1982)], Industrialización y Estado en la América Latina: La leyenda negra de la posguerra [Industrialization and the State in Latin America: The Black Legend of the Postwar], E. Cárdenas et al., eds., El Trimestre Económico—Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003.
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