Design disasters in the history of computing

ATKINSON, Paul (2007). Design disasters in the history of computing. In: BALCIOĞLU, Tevfic, TOMBUŞ, Özlem Çağlar and IRKDAŞ, Derya, (eds.) EAD 07 conference proceedings : dancing with disorder: design, discourse, disaster. Izmir, Turkey, European Academy of Design/Izmir University of Economics, 797-806.

This is the latest version of this item.

EAD07.Atkinson_R1.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (3MB) | Preview
Official URL:


The timelines of computing history are stories of successful products or important technological developments, which are stated to have changed the course of computing history. These timelines present prima facie evidence of technological developments in isolation, suggesting a smooth, unproblematic developmental progress of an industry and rarely giving any indication of the possible reasons why the items discussed were so successful. In addition these same timelines say little of the numerous products that disappeared from view, although these can tell us just as much about the consumption of technology as the successes. Design disasters in the computing industry were legion, as numerous companies competed for sales. Why did products hailed as significant breakthroughs fail to maintain a place in the market? The archives of manufacturers brochures present us with computers from large and small manufacturers no longer in existence, and show products which in many cases were years ahead of the competition but for one reason or another failed to make a mark. This paper explores how these developments have been analysed from the perspectives of different theories, including technological determinism, social constructionism and actor network theory. Using the tablet computer as a case study, this paper explores the connections and interactions between these differing viewpoints.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: The 7th conference of the EAD held by The Faculty of Fine Arts and Design at Izmir University of Economics, TURKEY, between 11-13 April 2007.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Paul Atkinson
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2014 12:01
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2015 17:34

Available Versions of this Item

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics