A Special Issue on the History of Computing


Jack Copeland, Carl Posy, and Oron Shagrir


The emergence of the electronic computer is arguably the most significant technological achievement of the Twentieth Century. This Special Issue concerns both the origins of the computer and the theory of computation. The history presented here commences with Babbage, Turing, and Bletchley Park. Articles trace the development of modern theoretical computer science and of practical and industrial applications, including Artificial Intelligence and numerical methods in mathematics.

Many of the articles in this collection were first presented at the 21st International Workshop on the History and Philosophy of Science The Origins and Nature of Computation, held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in June 2006. We thank the sponsors of the International Workshop: the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas (Tel Aviv University), the Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Israel Science Foundation.

This volume is dedicated to the memory of Michael S. Mahoney who passed away in the summer of 2008 at the age of 69. Mike was a major figure and leading intellectual force in the fields of history of computing and history of mathematics. His article in this volume is the last he wrote; he completed it shortly before his untimely death. Mike was an energetic and charming person, and a marvelous teacher (see https://blogs.princeton.edu/mahoney/). We all miss him.