The Importance of Learning History and Philosophy of Computing

Computers have invaded our offices, our homes, cars and coffee-pots; they have become ubiquitous. However, the advance of computing technologies is associated with an increasing lack of “visibility” of the underlying software and hardware technologies. While we use and accept the computer, we neither know its history nor functionality. In this paper, we argue that this is not a healthy situation. Also, recruitment onto UK Computing degree courses is steadily falling; these courses are appearing less attractive to school-leavers. This may be associated with the increasing ubiquity. In this paper we reflect on an MSc. module of instruction, Concepts and Philosophy of Computing, and a BSc. module Computer Games Development developed at the University of Worcester which address these issues. We propose that the elements of these modules form a necessary part of the education of all citizens, and we suggest how this may be realized. We also suggest how to re-enthuse our youth about computing as a discipline and halt the drop in recruitment.
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