Calculating devices and computers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


Focusing upon computation, storage, and infrastructures for data from the early modern European period forward, this chapter stresses that the constraints of computing technologies, as well as their possibilities, are essential for the path of computational sciences. Mathematical tables and simple contrivances aided calculation well into the middle of the twentieth century. Digital machines replaced them slowly: adopting electronic digital computers for scientific work demanded creative responses to the limits of technologies of computation, storage, and communication. Transforming the evidence of existing scientific domains into data computable and storable in electronic form challenged ontology and practice alike. The ideational history of computing should pay close attention to its materiality and social forms, and the materialist history of computing must pay attention to its algorithmic ingenuity in the face of material constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to the History of Science
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781118620762
ISBN (Print)9781118620779
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Approximation
  • Calculator
  • Computer
  • Data
  • Database
  • Expert knowledge
  • Information technology
  • Numerical analysis
  • Simulation


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