New technologies often are introduced through spectacle: Think of the historic demonstrations carried out by Faraday, Edison, Morse, and Bell, or, more recently, by Steve Jobs onstage in his black turtleneck at Macworld 2007, holding the first iPhone. Indeed, hyped-up product announcements at industry events like the Consumer Electronics Show (now
CES) and the Game Developers Conference have become regular features of the digital world.
There’s also a parallel tradition—less flashy but no less important—of industry events that focus attention on digital infrastructure. Several of these events, such as the first public demo of the
ARPANET in 1972, or the mid-1980s conferences now known as Interop, alerted experts to new technologies, and, in some cases, altered the balance between competing approaches.
Although many of these gatherings have escaped the attention of historians, our view is that these events should be recognized more fully as moments where experts could glimpse
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