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The IT History Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of knowledge about the people, products, and companies that together comprise the field of computing.

Since 1978 our organization, and its hundreds of members, have worked toward this goal, and we invite you to contribute your own knowledge and memories on this website! (read more)

"Cybernetics is the Universal Solvent of Technology"

Those words were spoken by the late Professor W. David Lewis, of Auburn University, discussing a talk I had given about the relationship of computing to aerospace. We all know the corollary: if you discover a universal solvent, in what container can you hold itFor myself, working at the National Air and Space Museum, this paradox came home forcefully when Ronald D. Sugar, the CEO of Northrop Grumman, recently observed, “We fundamentally are an information and electronics company that also happens to build aircraft, ships, and spacecraft.” This is the company that built the Lunar Module, which took 12 human beings to the Moon and back. And the Northrop Gamma, whose sleek lines and aluminum skin reminded one historian of a “Brancusi bird.” But Northrop Grumman an An IT company? Where does that leave us at the Air and Space Museum? lunar-module.jpgnorthrop-gamma.jpg Let me toot my own horn and call attention to a book I have just published, in which I examine this topic in more detail. Internet Alley is about technology in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, where Northrop Grumman, by no coincidence, is the main employer. So it makes sense for a curator of aerospace to write about this region, even if few airplanes are built or designed there. Still, has anyone ever compared a server farm to a Brancusi?

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