James W. Cortada, Senior Research Fellow 


Contact Information
tel: 608.274.6382


I am a historian specializing in the business and economic history of information and information technologies. I spent over 38 years at IBM in various sales, consulting, management, and executive positions. I am active in the IEEE Computer Society, American Historical Association, and sit on the board of directors of the IT History Society. All these activities have influenced the research I do. Currently I am exploring the role of information and information tools in American society since 1875, particularly their use in business.



Brief Curriculum Vitae 

Ph.D., European History, Florida State University, 1973.

M.A., American History, Florida State University, 1970.

B.A., History and Spanish, Randolph-Macon College, 1969.

Two dozen executive education training programs at Harvard Business School, University of Virginia, and internally within IBM for a cumulative 34 months.

Recent Professional Positions

  • Member, IBM Institute for Business Value, 2004-2012.
  • Management Consulting, various roles, IBM, 1990-2004.
  • Sales, various roles, IBM, 1974-1989.

Select Publications

  • Birth of Modern Facts: How the Information Revolution Transformed Academic Research, Governments, and Businesses (2023)
  • Building Blocks of Society: History, Information Ecosystems, and Infrastructures (2021)
  • IBM: The Rise and Fall and Reinvention of a Global Icon (MIT Press, 2019).
  • All the Facts: A History of Information in the United States since 1870 (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Before the Computer: IBM, NCR, Burroughs, and Remington Rand and the Industry They Created, 1865-1956 (Princeton University Press; Revised edition, 2016).
  • The Essential Manager: How to Thrive in the Global Information Jungle (IEEE Computer Society Press/John Wiley & Sons, 2015).
  • The Digital Flood: The Diffusion of Information Technology across the United States, Europe and Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  • History Hunting: A Guide for Fellow Adventures (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2012).
  • Information and the Modern Corporation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011).
  • How Societies Embrace Information Technology: Lessons for Management and the Rest of Us (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • The Digital Hand, 3 vols (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004-2008).
  • Making the Information Society: Experience, Consequences, and Possibilities (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Financial Times, 2002).
  • A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000) co-edited with Alfred D. Chandler, Jr.
  • Published articles in, among others, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Business History Review, Journal of Contemporary History, Information & Culture, Enterprises et Histoire, Journal of Knowledge Management, Historical Methods, Accounting, Business & Financial History, Iterations, Journal of Organizational Excellence, The Historian, Journal of Business Strategy, Journal of Scholarly Publishing, AHA Perspectives.