- From the Editor's Desk
Jeffrey R. Yost concluded his tenure as editor in chief at the end of 2011. Jeff has done a terrific job publishing great scholarship and strengthening the journal's scope. In his tenure, IEEE Annals has achieved a much stronger position in publishing on social and cultural history of computing, computing as infrastructure software applications, political and business history of computing, and historiography. In addition, he chaired the magazine's expansion through the Computing Then website (http://www.computer.org/portal/web/computingthen), a department of Computing Now, the IEEE Computer Society's new electronic journal, which attracts a large number of readers. Computing Then substantially extends the visibility of the Annals.
As the new Annals editor in chief, I plan to continue Jeff Yost's line of publishing fine scholarship and will work to improve Jeff's expansion of the fields the magazine covers. I am located in Denmark, which makes me the first EIC to be situated outside the US. I will work to improve focus beyond North America and Western Europe to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. IEEE Annals provides an important contribution to the development of the history of computing by publishing both pioneer accounts and academic papers. We need to improve the understanding of how people in industry, universities, and government across the globe changed computing and how computing influenced society, organizations, and peoples' lives.
One of Jeff Yost's final tasks as EIC was to oversee this special issue on the early history of microcircuitry, with David C. Brock and David A. Laws as guest editors. This is an important contribution to the history of computing, and it fits well into the history and current challenges of IEEE Annals of History of Computing. The Annals started in 1979, and during its first years, it focused on the shaping of mainframe computers of that day. It published important contributions on how and why Univac and the early large computers were shaped by universities, government, and industry. It addressed computers' predecessor technologies. It studied how early computers were reshaped into mainframe computers, how hardware changed, and how software emerged and was subsequently shaped. The magazine also discussed how mainframe computers impacted work in many fields.
Simultaneously, computer technology and industry underwent basic changes. The first personal computers appeared in the 1970s, and IBM announced its PC in 1981—50 years ago last summer. Originally, PCs stood alone, but they only became attractive in industry and private homes as they were networked to other PCs and facilities in mainframe computers. PCs were based on the new microcircuitries, as were the new and more powerful mainframe computers. PCs and mainframe computers became nodes of the new decentralized networks, which contrasted with the older networks, where all terminals in a network linked to its main computer. Local area networks of personal computers linked to a server improved speed and reliability because the computer system ceased to rely on one single computer. In addition, producers and users utilized the scheme's possibilities of access beyond the original network to information on private and work issues. This transition had many elements: networks, hardware, software, business, labor conditions, games, components, education, and so forth. Industry produced the new hardware in large numbers and innovated completely new software based on new jobs and production in great numbers.
IEEE Annals has already addressed many important aspects of this transition over the years—for example, Stephen J. Lukasik's article on the emergence of the Internet1 and a special issue on the history of database management systems.2 This special issue provides another significant contribution that improves our understanding of this transition. It tells six stories of the emergence of microcircuitry in the 1950s and 1960s in the US, Great Britain, and Japan. Microcircuitry was an essential basis for innovating and producing PCs and new and more powerful mainframe computers since the 1980s. Japan's raise to become a major electronics producer is an important element in this transition.
As we move forward, many more elements in this transition need to be explored to further our current knowledge. [End Page 2]