2023 Tomash Virtual Lecture with Sam Schirvar
Join the Charles Babbage Institute's 2022 - 2023 Tomash Fellow Sam Schirvar, University of Pennsylvania, History and Sociology of Science ABD, presenting his paper "Following the Computer Industry through the State."
This virtual event is free and open to the public.
Registration closes at 12 CST on Monday, April 3, 2023.
Abstract: William C. Norris, founder and CEO of Control Data Corporation, was notorious in the business world. From assembly plants in the so-called "inner city," to a mobile health clinic on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, to computer programming and assembly at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater—many of Control Data's ventures in the late twentieth century appeared to be unconventional. While the business community alleged that these programs were a distraction that hurt Control Data's bottom line, Norris insisted that the supercomputer firm could do good — and make a profit.
Following the history of Control Data's social programs from the late 1960s to the 1980s, this talk will introduce the audience to a constellation of cases where electronics and computing firms began to take on leadership roles within the US welfare state. Along the way, the audience will learn about recent developments in US political history and consider the ways that scholars of computing, information, and culture can uniquely contribute to our understanding of the changing relationships between state and capital.