William Aspray, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow

William Aspray

Contact: william.aspray@icloud.com

Specialties and Interests

Computer history, information history, everyday information behavior, information policy, food studies, and broadening participation in computing.  

Work Experience

Current Position

I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Previous Positions

In recent years, I have been a senior faculty member in the information schools at Indiana (Bloomington), Texas (Austin), and Colorado (Boulder). Before that, I held leadership positions in professional non-profit organizations: the Charles Babbage Institute, the IEEE History Center, and Computing Research Association. Early in my career, I taught at Williams and Harvard. I have also held secondary, part-time faculty positions at Virginia Tech and Penn. 


I have a BA and MA in mathematics from Wesleyan and a PhD in history of science from Wisconsin (Madison). I have also done graduate study with Michael Mahoney and Thomas Kuhn at Princeton and with Kenneth May at Toronto.

Current Research

  1. Informational Aspects of Where to Live in America (book ed. with Melissa Ocepek, near final submission, Rowman & Littlefield) considers such topics as changes to the real estate industry because of information technologies, information-seeking behaviors of retirees and African Americans, affective impacts on home purchase, how communities use information to improve quality of life, and the cultural fascination with home improvement television shows
  2. Creators and debunkers of myths about the American West - article (submitted, under review) 
  3. Dog sniffing of drugs and explosives, privacy, and the Fourth Amendment - article (in process, with Philip Doty) 
  4. Information-Seeking Behavior of Older Americans (book, beginning stages) - considers topics such as when and where to retire, insurance, financial planning, preserving one's legacy, remaining engaged, contributing to society, intergenerational relationships, second careers, and dying.

Selected Publications

  • Fake News Nation (with James Cortada, Rowman & Littlefield).
  • From Urban Legends to Political Fact-Checking (with James Cortada, Springer).
  • Computing and the National Science Foundation, 1950-2016 (with Peter Freeman and W. Richards Adrion, ACM Books).
  • Formal and Informal Approaches to Food Policy (Springer).
  • Food in the Internet Age (Springer).
  • ‘Food Fights for Freedom’: A Critical Reading of Food Advertisements from Ladies' Home Journal during the Second World War. Advertising and Society Review, vol. 15.
  • Computer: A History of the Information Machine (3rd ed., with Martin Campbell-Kelly, Nathan Ensmenger, and Jeffrey Yost, Westview).
  • Everyday Information (ed., with Barbara Hayes, MIT Press).
  • Globalization and the Offshoring of Software (ed., with Frank Mayadas and Moshe Vardi, ACM).
  • Women and Information Technology (ed., with JoAnne Cohoon, MIT Press).
  • John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing (MIT Press).