A Media-based Look at the History of Computing
As Bolter and Grushin point out, over the last half century digital computing has undergone what they call a "process of 'remediatization'" during which society understood it as having fundamentally different purposes:
- In the 1940s the "programmable digital computer was invented in the 1940s as a calculating engine (ENIAC, EDSAC, and so on) " for miltary and scientific application.
- During the next decade "large corporations and bureaucracies"  used it, instead, for accounting.
- About the same time, a few pioneers saw the computer as "a new writing technology" .
- Turing and those involved with AI saw the computer primarily as a "symbol manipulator" that could "remediate earlier technologies of arbitrary symbol manipulation, such as handwriting and printing" 
- "In the 1970s, the first word processors appeared, and in the 1980s the desktop computer. The computer could then become a medium because it could enter into the social and economic fabric of business culture and remediate the typewriter almost out of existence." 
- More recently, the computer has been seen as an image capturer, presenter, and manipulator: "If even ten years ago we thought of computers exclusively as numerical engines and word processors, we now think of them also as devices for generating images, reworking photographs, holding videoconferences, and providing animation and special effects for film and television" .
Last updated: 20 July 2002