Volume 51, Number 4 (Nov/Dec 2016)

America’s Early Computer Clusters: History, Geography, and Economics. Part II: Explanations

Florencia Garcia-Vicente, Daniel D. Garcia-Swartz, and Martin Campbell-Kelly


This article is the second part of a comprehensive study on the rise of America’s early computer clusters from the perspective of evolutionary economic geography. That is, we attempt to identify the historical processes that led to the formation of the early clusters of computer production in the US. Here we explore explanations for the genesis of the agglomerations identified in Part I. We suggest that the clusters we observe in the early 1970s arose from the locational decisions of three waves of companies: the computer start-ups of the late 1940s and early 1950, the large conglomerates that entered the computer industry during the 1950s, and the minicomputer and peripheral-making companies that entered later on. We argue that a combination of pre-existing conditions and Marshallian externalities generated the clustering patterns for computer production we observe in the early 1970s.

Technological Innovation, Commercialization, and Regional Development: Computer Graphics in Utah 1965-1978

James R. Lehning


The Computer Science Program at the University of Utah, founded in 1965 with support from the Department of Defense, was a significant contributor to the development of computer graphics technology in the following decade and thereafter.  In 1968 a spin-off company, Evans & Sutherland Computer Corporation, was established to manufacture and market this technology.   The practices of innovation drawn from the Department of Defense, the research and instructional programs of the Computer Science Program, and Evans & Sutherland’ marketing of graphics products interacted to turn the Salt Lake Valley into an important center of computer innovation and manufacturing. 

Blurred Lines: National Security and the Civil-Military Struggle for Control of Telecommuniactions Policy during World War II

Jonathan Reed Winkler


The study of a collision between the U.S. Navy and the Federal Communications Commission during World War II reveals a complex story about the boundaries between civilian and military agencies, the role of the regulatory state in wartime, and the challenges of balancing the nation’s privately held international communications capabilities against the government’s wartime requirements, across the boundaries from peace to crisis to war.  Unresolved during World War II, the collision laid bare questions that continue to challenge policymakers concerned with protection of information networks in the present era.

The Trial of Francisco Bilbao and Its Role in the Foundation of Latin American Journalism

Pablo Calvi


This paper discusses a little known historical event that created the conditions for, and represents the power dynamics within, the Latin American media as we know it today. The 1844 trial of Francisco Bilbao had a direct impact on the development of the free press in Chile and, subsequently, in the rest of South America. Bilbao’s trial, one of the most talked-about events in the subcontinent at the time, brought the liberal journalist before a conservative, Catholic, court, which fined him for the publication of an anti-religious piece, La Sociabilidad Chilena. Bilbao, a young student and journalist, was charged with blasphemy, immorality and sedition in the third degree, the three highest possible violations to the Chilean press code. After being acquitted of the charges of sedition, on the remaining charges Bilbao was offered the option to either spend six months in prison or pay a fine of 1,200 pesos, an unusually steep fine at the time. This onerous verdict, however, had the paradoxical effect of agglutinating support for Bilbao and the free press among the young liberal elites in Chile and its neighboring countries. The highly public trial, one of the first registered in the history of the Latin American media, established Chile as a beacon for the free press in South America, and substantiated Santiago’s and Valparaiso’s potential to attract an elite of printers, writers and journalists. These publicists (“publicistas” as they were known in Spanish before the term journalist became popular) would soon found some of the most groundbreaking newspapers in the region, fostering an intense period of innovation in journalism and literary journalism in the mid-nineteenth century in the region. 

The Book and the Rocket: The Symbiotic Relationship between American Public Libraries and the Space Program, 1950-2015

Brett Spencer


Historical research in marketing consists of a body of literature and specific norms regarding knowledge generation and presentation. Marketing academics have published historical studies in marketing journals since the 1930s, but over the past 30 years associational activities have greatly stimulated the growth of the literature, although it remains less developed than history subfields in accountancy, management, business, and economics. Historical studies published in mainstream marketing journals have favored explicit literature reviews, data borrowing, multiple types of primary sources, and transparency in research methods. We conclude with an assessment of marketing historiography as a legitimate discipline in its own right, but with future challenges.

Out of Control: Telephone Networks, Visual Documents, and Management of Business Conversations at Renault (1911-1939)

Alain P. Michel


Should we trust business literature which celebrates managerial control of communication through the implementation of a hierarchically-governed telephone network? Why then must firms like the Renault automobile company constantly recall the rules? My thesis is that these instructions, repeated in parrot-like fashion, reveal a failure of the head staff to control a technology in constant evolution, adopted at minimum cost and assimilated by employees who adapt it to their own practical needs. I assert that visual documents constitute an interesting option in internal communication, one that literature on management has historically underestimated. How might they question the supremacy of written archives, on which most historical studies are based? What do visual documents specifically offer to the history of corporate telephone practices and oral business communication?

This issue can be found on Project MUSE