The Digital Flood: The Diffusion of Information Technology Across the U.S, Europe, and Asia

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9780199921553: The Digital Flood: The Diffusion of Information Technology Across the U.S, Europe, and Asia
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No technology seems to have spread so fast around the world in such a short period of time as computers. It was a phenomenon that predated the arrival of the Internet and that began to change how businesses, governments, and whole societies functioned. The diffusion of information technologies occurred in dozens of countries all over the world with fascinating similarities and differences.

In this book, historian James W. Cortada provides the first world-wide history of how computers appeared and were used in North America, all of Europe, and in most of Asia in barely a half century. He explores the causes of diffusion, arguing that more than the technology itself, other conditions were required for the spread of computers, such as standards of living, education, the Cold War, and globalization of the economy. He argues that these technologies are the glue that hold together today's economies and are propelling increases in the quality of life of over a billion people moving into the middle class.

Based on archival and secondary research, extensive use of economic data, and detailed country case studies of over a dozen nations, Cortada tells the history of how computers were discovered, invented, built, and used, and the consequences for whole regions. This is the first attempt by any expert to write a global history of information technologies, and specifically, about how these spread. It is economic and business history, but also a guide to those who want to understand what is happening today in such nations as India, China, and other emerging economies as the Computer Revolution continues. He has insights for historians, economists, public officials, and business executives.

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About the Author:


James W. Cortada is the author of over two dozen books on the history and management of information technologies. He has held various sales, consulting and managerial positions at IBM for over 35 years. He consults with governments and the private sector on the use of computing for economic development and public administration.

Review:


"This is really an astonishing book-James W. Cortada has tracked down rare and unusual sources, reports, books, and otherwise inaccessible data to offer a stunning global history of information technology. The 333 information-packed footnotes on China and India alone make this a must-own volume."--Thomas J. Misa, Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota


"James Cortada provides a convincing and challenging comparative history of computer adaption and diffusion. It is amazing what Cortada achieves by comparing the national stories of information technology diffusion. The book facilitates important new insights into the role of government and industry and provides new and refreshing perspectives on how societies change, seen through the lenses of innovation, production, and application of information processing technology."--Lars Heide, Copenhagen Business School


"Information technology is the most significant innovation affecting all of us in the last 70 years. James Cortada shows how computers spread from the US to Europe and Asia and suggests reasons for their rapid pace of diffusion. Historians and technologists will both be interested in his ideas."--Henry Lucas, University of Maryland


"In The Digital Flood, James Cortada, the author of two dozen books on the history and management of information technologies, undertakes an incredibly ambitious project: to analyze the international diffusion and deployment of IT from the 1940s through the late 1990s. The project is mind-boggling not only because of its geographical scope--the book has chapters on the U.S., Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Japan, the Asian Tigers, China, and India--but also because it covers both the activities of governments and IT vendors ("diffusion") and those of users ("deployment"). Although readers may quibble about specific dimensions of the world history of IT that should have been included (or left out), in my view Cortada delivers a solid synthesis. As a comprehensive synthesis of the international history of IT diffusion through the late 1990s, Cortada's book is unique and will clearly serve as the standard reference on the subject for years to come."--EH.Net


"This book should prove a valuable resource for anyone interested in the international diffusions of computers and information technology over the last half century. The plethora of obscure country-specific surveys and case studies Cortada draws on in his endnotes makes the volume a treasure trove for those with a serious interest in this salient topic. Highly recommended."--CHOICE


"Drawing on his long career and some two-dozen previous books on computer and IT history, this looks to be [Cortada's] magnum opus. He argues that these technologies are the glue that hold together today's economies and are propelling increases in the quality of life of over a billion people moving into the middle class. The hefty book is designed so readers can delve into chapters of particular interest, or read the whole study. The emphasis is less on computer technology (as that is already so well covered elsewhere), and more on IT systems and applications. Cortada will surely nail down his already superb historical reputation with this well-organized and insightful work of synthesis of a huge literature in multiple languages."--Communication Booknotes Quarterly


James Cortada has produced an impressive body of work that addresses the history of computing and information technologies in the US. His most recent book, The Digital Flood, dramatically expands the focus to include not just the US story but also western and eastern Europe as well as Asian countries like India, Japan, and China. The result is a detailed global history of computing, in turns both multinational as well as transnational. The information and statistics Cortada marshals to tell his expansive story are impressive, as is the huge mass of secondary and some primary literature he has read and synthesized. For someone seeking a font of sources and references that detail the spread of IT in the US, Europe, India, Japan, and China, one could not do much better. More a broad economic and business history than a detailed social history, [This book] moves us closer to a comprehensive global understanding of the spread and adoption of computing technologies."--Technology & Culture


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