• 1939 June 30
    (b.) -
    2008 July 23


Michael Mahoney earned his Ph.D. from Princeton and then dedicated his 40-year academic career in the history of science to the University as professor of history. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Mahoney came to Princeton in 1962 after studying for two years at the University of Munich as a German Foreign Exchange Service Fellow. While working on his doctorate in history and in history of science at Princeton, he served as an instructor and was appointed an assistant professor upon the completion of his degree in 1967. Mahoney divided his research and teaching between the development of the mathematical sciences from antiquity to 1700 and the recent history of computing and information technology. He was the author of "The Mathematical Career of Pierre de Fermat, 1601-1665"; a series of monographs on the mathematics of Ren? Descartes, Isaac Barrow, Christiaan Huygens and Isaac Newton; and dozens of articles on the development of computer science and software engineering as new technical disciplines. Mahoney taught classes on topics ranging from "The Origins of Modern Science, 1500 to 1700," to "Creating the Computer: From ENIAC to the Internet," a freshman seminar he led last fall. He also advised many doctoral dissertations, conducted numerous alumni education programs and taught in the Teachers as Scholars Program, which provides professional development opportunities for area school teachers. In 1979, he set out to design a course on the history of technology. As part of that effort, he decided he needed to learn more about computing and signed up for courses in Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science, essentially completing the undergraduate curriculum in computer science. Under a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in the late 1980s, Mahoney worked with three other faculty members to develop engineering curriculum materials for liberal arts students. They brought 20 faculty members from liberal arts institutions to campus during the summer to learn about the materials and how to incorporate them into instruction. In 1984 and 1985, Mahoney served as director of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for Secondary School Teachers on campus focused on "Technology and the Human Experience." In an interview on the history department website, Mahoney explained his fascination with the human side of the technological revolution. For example, he cited software glitches with the baggage-handling system that caused the 16-month delay in opening the new Denver airport in the 1990s.
  • Date of Birth:

    1939 June 30
  • Date of Death:

    2008 July 23
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Noted professor of IT history at Princeton Unviersity
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