[LINK] Public Lecture: Lee Felsenstein - 'The Social History of the Personal Computer'

Danny Yee danny at anatomy.usyd.edu.au
Thu Jun 18 12:21:51 EST 2009

2009 CHAST Lecture
'The Social History of the Personal Computer'
Lee Felsenstein
New Law School, Lecture Theatre 101, University of Sydney

Wednesday, 1st July 2009, at 6 pm

Free Admission, All Welcome.


We all know that personal computers and the Internet did not arise on their
own. But how could technology with its roots in military budgets, the
stunted culture of technologists, and hierarchical corporate culture have
spawned such a subversive set of products and practices?

With hindsight, drawing upon my own personal experiences as the designer of
several early personal computers and peripherals, as well as moderator of
the seminal 'Homebrew Computer Club' in Silicon Valley, I will explore
competing mythologies about the genesis of personal computing as well as
discuss come conclusions that may illuminate not only the historical
questions but also the dialectic of work versus play and how it operates
different for differing personality types.

Stewart Brand, through his 'Whole Earth Catalog' did the most to enable
those who created the PC. Probing the web of interconnections in the hotbed
of the San Francisco Bay area political, social and technological
countercultures,  we'll examine the interactions that produced such unlikely

Those who expect a story of predictable progress from point A through point
B terminating at C will be disappointed. Rather, expect to hear of chaotic
activity, past and present, within environments in which play is encouraged,
a high degree of feedback is maintained, and mechanisms exist for reaping
the benefit of unexpected technological progress.

To conclude, there will be a look at the new wave of institutions being
designed to support environments today that are conducive to chaotic
development for the current generation in collaboration with older ones.

Lee Felsenstein received a B.S. in EECS from the University of California,
Berkeley in 1972. He entered UC Berkeley first in 1963, joined the
Co-operative Work-Study Program in Engineering in 1964 and dropped out at
the end of 1967, working as a Junior Engineer at the Ampex Corporation from
1968 through 1971, when he re-enrolled at Berkeley.  Lee has been employed
at Osborne Computer Corporation from 1981-1983, at Interval Research
Corporation from 1992-2000, and at Pemstar Pacific Consultants from
2001-2005. All other times he has worked either as a free-lance consulting
designer or for his own design firm.


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