Hardwired at Heart: The Everyday and Extraordinary in 20th Century Czechoslovak Computing

Hardwired at Heart: The Everyday and Extraordinary in 20th Century Czechoslovak Computing

Prague, 16 May 2018

Call for papers & call for participation

From the late 1940s to the 1980s, from the first computer pioneers to hobbyists, computing in Czechoslovakia was permeated with enthusiasm, or rather with deep, almost obsessive interest and willingness to push barriers (political, financial, physical and scientific), which could be found with hobbyists as well as with professionals. Professionals namely often were not privileged, and their salary was not too high, so they had to be enthusiasts to pursue programming and computer science. Similarly, hobbyists were not always kids; they were often professionals tinkering on nights and weekends instead of heading to their weekend house (the Czech word for the weekend house, chata, later provided a nice pun with chat.)

The enthusiasm to create computers and to work with them can be perceived from the the first moments when a plan to build a computer was brought to Czechoslovakia just after WWII. Likewise, enthusiasm was a cornerstone of success in creating Czech versions of ALGOL compilers in the 1960s.

The overly positive attitude could have suffered during normalisation and with the introduction of the Unified System of Electronic Computers, but even this was soon overcome, and the field attracted a fair percentage of dissidents.

The workshop is organised on the occasion of having Robert Jameson (Kansas University) as a Fulbright scholar in Prague.

We welcome participation of all researchers interested in the topic. If you are interested in presenting your work in the framework of this workshop, or if you would just like to be further informed about the programme, please, send e-mail to [email protected]

Programme and organizational committee: Jaroslav Švelch, Robert Jameson, Helena Durnová

Preliminary programme:
Tuesday, 15 May informal dinner
Wednesday, 16. May workshop, starting at 9 AM, expected closing of the workshop at 4 PM

Venue: FF UK, nám. J. Palacha 2, Praha

Registration and grants: Participation at the workshop is free. We have some limited funding to assist those who have no other travel funds.