About CBI

Making IT work


We fulfill this mission through synergistic programs of curating and continuously expanding the leading global archives on computing and society, and running an interdisciplinary history research center. CBI hosts major conferences/symposia and smaller workshops, engages in sponsored research, publishes scholarly books and articles, conducts oral histories, provides editorial leadership, manages fellowship and grant programs, has public history programming, and contributes to education on campus and beyond.

Seymour Cray panel on scholars' walk

Why Minnesota?

Over the years Minnesota has been fortunate to be the home of many of the pioneering companies and individuals in the work of Computing and Informatics within IT. This connection has lead to relationships that have brought many unique and rare collections to the Institute and the University of Minnesota. 

In the fall of 2019, History, Science and Technology and Medicine and CBI historians collaborated on the Twin Cities Public Television documentary, "Solid State: Minnesota's High-Tech History". The documentary showcases Minnesota's role in the second half of the 20th century as the global epicenter of computing and as birthplace of the supercomputer, as well as being home to Univac, Control Data, IBM Rochester, and Honeywell.

 A Brief History of CBI

  • 1978: Founded by Erwin and Adelle Tomash as the International Charles Babbage Society; office opened in Palo Alto, California.
  • 1979: American Federation of Information Processing Societies becomes principal sponsor of the Society; Society renamed the Charles Babbage Institute; companies and individuals in the information industries offer support.
  • 1980: University of Minnesota enters into a legal agreement to sponsor and house the Charles Babbage Institute; a new supporting entity, the Charles Babbage Foundation, is created to govern the Institute as a partner with the University.
  • 1989: University of Minnesota assumes all authority for the Charles Babbage Institute; CBI becomes an organized research unit of the University.
  • 2018: As part of restructuring within the College of Science and Engineering, CBI became a research center of the Graduate Program in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.