What’s New

Fall 2019

Jay Forrester and Robert Everett watch as Stephen Dodd and Ramona D. Ferenz operate Whirlwind, MIT’s first digital computer, 1950. Photo: MIT Museum

Students Create Archival History of Computing at MIT
Launched in June, a new website, Archival History of Computing at MIT, 1950-62, was created by a team of MIT undergraduate students in collaboration with the Programs in Digital Humanities and the MIT Libraries. Starting in November 2018, participants studied the MIT Computation Center archives from the Libraries’ Distinctive Collections, digitized documents, created metadata, programmed the underlying code for the website, wrote stories about the archive, and conducted analyses in code and words. The site includes stories—ranging from the “Rise and Fall of Project Whirlwind,” about the first large-scale and high-speed computer, to uncovering the role of women—as well as simulations of performing basic programming operations on the IBM 704 computer and an interactive visualization showing the connections between the top 100 contributors in the Computation Center archives. Explore the archive at comphist.digitalhumanitiesmit.org.


Distinctive Collections Opens Web Archives to the Public
The department of Distinctive Collections (formerly Institute Archives and Special Collections) began collecting MIT-produced and affiliated webpages through the Archive-It tool in 2016. These web archives, ensuring that valuable information about the Institute is accessible to researchers in the long term, were made available to the public this summer. Selected websites include those from MIT special projects, departments, student groups, alumni groups, and more, including recent developments such as the launch of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing. “By capturing websites of groups soon after their creation, a future researcher can see how these areas evolved from conception to an established group at the Institute,” says Joe Carrano, digital archivist. See the archived webpages at archive-it.org/home/MIT.