Amateur Computing

The image shows a keyboard drawn in chalk. The closest part of the keyboard, in perspective, is the bottom right, so the "control" button is largest and most in focus, with "shift" and "enter" just above.

Here is the PDF of my article, “When Computers Were Amateur,” published in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing in spring of 2014.

In the article, I try to set out a kind of pre-history to contemporary hacking. I focus on a group of computer hobbyists called the Amateur Computer Society, which existed from 1966-1976 that started just before the dawn of what we now call “personal computing.” I propose amateurism as an essential analytic in the history of computing, showing how an amateur spirit ran through the often-frustrating computer design challenges and the projects these hobbyists yenned after.