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  2. The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer by Jon Agar
  3. IBM Roadrunner
  4. History of computing hardware

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Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information In The Government Machine, Jon Agar traces the mechanization of government work inthe United Kingdom from the nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. He argues that thistransformation has been tied to the rise of "expert movements," groups whose authority has rested ontheir expertise.

The deployment of machines was an attempt to gain control over state action -- arevolutionary move. Agar shows how mechanization followed the popular depiction of government asmachine-like, with British civil servants cast as components of a general purpose "governmentmachine"; indeed, he argues that today's general purpose computer is the apotheosis of the civilservant.

Over the course of two centuries, government has become the major repository and user ofinformation; the Civil Service itself can be seen as an information-processing entity.


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Agar arguesthat the changing capacities of government have depended on the implementation of new technologies,and that the adoption of new technologies has depended on a vision of government and a fundamentalmodel of organization. Thus, to study the history of technology is to study the state, and viceversa.

Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Viewed in that longer historical perspective, the computer takes its place in a line of technologies inspired by a technocratic vision of public administration and designed to extend the informational resources on which it rests.

In bringing out historically specific differences between the development of computing in Britain and the United States, Agar provides new ground for discussions of the social forces that have shaped computing and been shaped by it. It is an important work, and it provides new theories of how governments gave us the metaphor of organization as machine and adopted systematic procedures, statistical methods and electronic computers.


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Agar deploys metaphor and analysis like a two-edged sword to cut through two centuries of British bureaucracy and calculation, revealing a striking view of why the computer came to play a central role in politics. I highly recommend this book to anyone who prefers history to hype and analysis to anecdote. Mahoney, Professor of History, Princeton University, "Jon Agar's book provides a compelling analysis of a key element of the modern era: the systematic operation of government.

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The Government Machine: A Revolutionary History of the Computer by Jon Agar

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