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History of computing in Europe

by James Connolly

  Print book

Not an exciting read, but overall quite disturbing.   (2018-07-04)


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by ReaderOfSuppressedBooks

This is an account of the men, the technologies, and the corporations that made up Europe's computer business from its beginning in the late 1800s to the book's date of publication, including during the two world wars and their turbulent aftermaths. Its specific focus is on the role played by IBM, the book's sponsor. This dry history can serve as a warning to humanity of what can happen when a corporation operating in a war zone completely lacks any sense of corporate social responsibility. IBM reportedly realized how poorly they were being portrayed and attempted to suppress the book's distribution. Nonetheless several copies surfaced in library collections many years after the book's publication.

I was able to read this book while visiting the downtown branch of the public library in Rochester, New York. Anyone can walk into this library, request this book from behind the counter, and read it on site. It cannot be loaned, but it is possible that a few photocopied pages can be requested through the interlibrary loan.

This book was published by IBM World Trade Corporation, an organization formed to oversee IBM’s activities outside of the United States. It was written at the request of Arthur K. Watson (then Chairman) and Gilbert E. Jones (then President) of IBM World Trade Corporation. The book lists no city of publication, but it likely was published in Europe.

The book is divided into two parts: a narrative history made up of 12 chapters (pages 1-65) and an historical timeline of major milestones (pages E-1 through E-52) in the history of computing in Europe. The chapters that make up the narrative portion of this book are:


Preface (page 1)

Introduction (page 2-4)

In the Beginning, (pages 5-9)

BTM and Dehomag (pages 10-14)

War and Post War (pages 15-21)

IBM, Remington Rand, Machines Bull (pages 22-27)

Challenging Thirties (pages 28-32)

Machine Development (pages 33-35)

Shadow of War (pages 36-39)

War Years (pages 40-44)

Pent-up Demand (pages 45-48)

Fighting Fifties (pages 49-53)

The United States and Europe (pages 54-60)

Looking Ahead (pages 61-65)


These chapters are roughly in chronological order, but they are not self-contained; the topics suggested by the chapter titles tend to bleed over into the previous and following chapters. Readers interested in the history of computing in a particular era (for example, World War I or World War II) would be wise to read the chapters before-and-after those named for their era of interest.    


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