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Edmund Berkeley and the Social Responsibility of Computer Professionals

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by Bernadette Longo
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Edmund Berkeley and the Social Responsibility of Computer Professionals by Bernadette Longo

Edmund C. Berkeley (1909 - 1988) was a mathematician, insurance actuary, inventor, publisher, and a founder of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). His book Giant Brains or Machines That Think (1949) was the first explanation of computers for a general readership. His journal Computers and Automation (1951-1973) was the first journal for computer professionals. In the 1950s, Berkeley developed mail-order kits for small, personal computers such as Simple Simon and the Braniac. In an era when computer development was on a scale barely affordable by universities or government agencies, Berkeley took a different approach and sold simple computer kits to average Americans. He believed that digital computers, using mechanized reasoning based on symbolic logic, could help people make more rational decisions. The result of this improved reasoning would be better social conditions and fewer large-scale wars. Although Berkeley's populist notions of computer development in the public interest did not prevail, the events of his life exemplify the human side of ongoing debates concerning the social responsibility of computer professionals. This biography of Edmund Berkeley, based on primary sources gathered over 15 years of archival research, provides a lens to understand social and political decisions surrounding early computer development, and the consequences of these decisions in our 21st century lives.

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Ebook Details
Pages: 221
Size: 1.6 MB
Publisher: ACM Books
Date published:   2015
ISBN: 9781970001389 (DRM-EPUB)
9781970001372 (DRM-PDF)

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