Website for the book A Culture of Innovation: Insider Accounts of Computing and Life at BBN and additional BBN computing history []

  • Corrections   
  • Chapter by chapter supplementary content
  • Editor contact information, front matter from the book, color images, other books about BBN
  • Provenance of the book

    This is a web site for the above-named book edited by David Walden and Raymond Nickerson and with chapters contributed by 19 long-time BBN people.

    A Culture of Innovation is a collection of chapters relevant to many of the areas of BBN computing work over the decades of its history with most chapters written by one or more participants in the described activity (or a close observer). We believe the book will provide an interesting picture of the company to people who have had involvement with BBN or are interested in computing history. It also will be a useful reference work for historians of computing. (Note, this book is not history by a professional historian—no interpretation, no historiography. It is also not a history book where one author tells an overall story, like Waldrop's The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal.)

    The second "printing" of the book is available online. It is available for download for individual reading. All other rights are reserved.

    Physical copies of the first printing of the book are available in retail bookstores, e.g.,

    Check around for the bookstore you trust which is providing the biggest discount from the list price. Try searching for "A Culture of Innovation Nickerson Walden" to find the book on bookstore websites. The book is 582 pages long and perfect bound. It was initially published in a 81/2 by 11 inch trim size. However, the book has a 7 1/2 by 10 3/4 trim size (tighter margins) when sold by the Harvard Book Store.

    To contact us

    Email us as needed regarding this website or the book at Please include "BBN book website" or "BBN book" as part of the subject line. -DCW

    Front matter from the book

    On-line color images that do not reproduce well in the B&W interior of the book

    Other books with lots of BBN history

    Corrections to the first printing
    [The second "printing" will be on-line only and will include the following corrections.]

    Please let us know about problems at the email address in the "To contact us" section above.. Acknowledgments for catching and correcting errors: Ben Barker, Bob Brooks, Bob Clements, Jon Cole, Bernie Cosell, Julie Sussman, Tom Van Vleck, Paul McJones, and perhaps others I have forgotten.

    Supplementary content

    We can post additional information on the content of various chapters and new content not covered in the scope of the book. [Let me know if you have something you would like to see posted, including differing perspectives on what is in the book. -DCW]

    Other BBN links, etc.

    Provenance of the book

    Starting in about 2003, we began collecting information and writings from long-time BBN employees.

    Six papers based on this work appeared in a BBN special issue of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, volume 27, number 2, April-June 2005. These papers were by Leo Beranek, John Swets, Stephen Levy, Frank Heart, Sheldon Baron, and Richard Estrada and Edward Starr. Six more papers appeared in a second special issue of the same journal (January-March 2006, volume 28, number 1), papers by Paul Castleman, Wallace Feurzeig, Johh Makhoul, Ralph Weischedel, Richard Schantz, and Craig Partridge and Steven Blumenthal. However, much of the initially submitted content of these papers could not be published because of the journal's page limitations.

    More papers went through the Annals peer review process and were judged acceptable for publication but had to be withdrawn because of page limitations: a paper by Raymond Nickerson and Sanford Fidell, and several papers by David Walden. We also had still more material that has never been submitted for publication.

    Thus we produced this book, A Culture of Innovation: Insider Accounts of Computing and Life at BBN, that contains longer versions of most of the papers published in the Annals, the papers that were withdrawn, and other content.

    Updated 2020-03-20; Walden home
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