History and Technology 20:29-51 (2004)

Sean F. Johnston
University of Glasgow
The history of holography, the technology of three-dimensional imaging that grew rapidly during the 1960s, has been written primarily by its historical actors and, like many new inventions, its concepts and activities became surrounded by myths and myth-making. The first historical account was disseminated by the central character of this paper, George W. Stroke, while a professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan. His claims embroiled several workers active in the field of holography and information processing during the 1960s, but transcended personality conflicts: they influenced the early historiography of holography and the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physics to Dennis Gabor in 1971. An extended discussion of these episodes, based on archival research, publications analysis and interviews with participants, reveals the importance and extraordinary allure of intellectual priority for practicing scientists, and how its history and explanations are woven from multiple accounts and contemporary interpretations.
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