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James Pelkey  |   Sitemap


The History of Computer Communications website grew out to understand the emergence and evolution of computer communications between 1968 and 1988. Being neither a trained historian nor professional writer, I decided to interview a relatively large number of the innovators, entrepreneurs and institutional actors who were considered key to computer communications. As I began writing, I realized I had collected many rich and informative stories that were happening concurrently. From my perspective, these stories called to be presented in a format that might capture the uncertainty, stress and rewards of the time. Furthermore, I wanted to present this history through liberal excerpts from the interviews rather than present the material as my insights. It seemed that writing the book in a format which gave the reader the opportunity to read what interested him or her in the order they chose would be creative and fun.

It was then that I approached my friend Verona Fonte, a former psychologist who now heads a digital media non profit that focuses on socially relevant issues, to explore if she would help me design a hypertext site for my project. Fortunately she agreed. The site has been designed as a resource and represents a team effort.

This site is structured around roughly 300 blocks of text that can be read as a book, sequentially; or by chapter of interest; or explored as a large set of documents in any manner desired. Each block of roughly a page of text is indexed by time, and by one of five or more additional indices: individuals, a market sector, organizations, technologies or products. In addition to the blocks of text, the reader will also find supporting research documents, and even the interviews in their entirety (as permissions are granted). The reader will also find links to the Computer History Museum and their important oral history collection.

Our vision was that overtime this might become a much larger, more encompassing, on-line computer history project. However, the development effort was beyond our means and time. That said, we feel this effort represents a dynamic way to think about writing and exploring historical material.