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Hong-Hong Tinn
Assistant Professor of History

My research and teaching interest include the history of digital electronic computing, Cold War international technical-aid programs, science and society, the relationship between computing and econometrics, and the history of science, technology, and medicine in East Asia.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 25

E-mail

Office
319 Landrum Bolling Center

Programs/Departments

  • History
  • Chinese Studies

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Cornell University
  • M.A., National Taiwan University
  • B.A., National Taiwan University

Selected Courses:

Selected Courses Offered

ESEM 150  Silk, Ceramics, and Trains: History of Science and Technology in East Asia

HIST 203  Computers: From Ada Lovelace to the Internet

HIST 266  Contemporary China and the World

HIST/WGSS 282  History of Science and Gender

HIST 374  Modern Japan

HIST/JPNS 382  History of Science, Technology and Medicine in East Asia

HIST/JPNS/INST 399  Global Powers in Taiwan (Off-campus May Term) 

HIST 410  Philosophy of History

HIST/JPNS/INST 472  Modern China

HIST/JPNS 473  Traditional Japan

HIST 488-2  Faculty-Student Collaborative Research Course (Ford/Knight): East Asian Languages Primary Sources in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

My research and teaching interest include the history of digital electronic computing, Cold War international technical-aid programs, science and society, the relationship between digital electronic computing and econometrics, information technology and women, and the history of science, technology, and medicine in East Asia.

My book manuscript, Island Tinkerers: Emulation, Innovation and Transformation in the Making of Taiwan’s Computing Industry, explores the transnational exchanges of computing technology and expertise between Taiwan and the United States. The manuscript emphasizes the agency exercised by local Taiwanese engineers, scientists, technocrats, and computer users in bringing computing technology to and popularizing such technology in Taiwan. This narrative challenges the prevailing arguments that stress the clear-cut stages of introduction, acceptance, and appropriation of foreign technology under the direction of the visionary, decisive, and authoritarian leaders in East Asia. Instead, I show that Taiwanese technologists initiated the acquisition of limited financial resources, procuring of precarious international assistance, improvement of Taiwan’s growing infrastructure for supporting digital electronic computing, and popularization of novel computing products. They sought to establish a computer center at National Chiao-Tung University, popularize the use of computers from the campus to military institutes and state-owned enterprises, construct computers in laboratories and subsequently mass-produce parts in factories, and tinker with computers at homes and in small shops. Island Tinkerers dispels the dichotomies that only the West can innovate, and the East imitates, or that only scientists and engineers can invent, and technicians and crafts people tinker with things. The book argues that technologists and users’ efforts in expanding the use, maintenance, and manufacture of computers were laudable innovations per se.

I held postdoctoral fellowships at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany and at the National University of Singapore. My recent research project looks at the history of economist Wassily Leontief’s inter-industry input-output analysis and its global circulation. I currently serve as the convener of the book review board for East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal (Duke University Press). I am an elected member of the Executive Council of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT). I chaired the SHOT Internationalization Committee from 2013 to 2014 and am chairing the International Small Grants Committee. I am also currently an advisory editor for Engineering Studies.

Publications

(Forthcoming) “Making Community Legible, 2012-2018” East Asian Science, Technology, Society 13, no. 1 (2019).

(Forthcoming) “Modeling Computers and Computer Models: Manufacturing Economic-Planning Projects in Taiwan, 1959-1968,” Technology and Culture 59, no. 4 (October 2018). 

“Charting the Cartography of a Global Community of EASTS Scholars,” East Asian Science, Technology, Society 10, no. 4 (2016): 341-342.

“From DIY Computers to Illegal Copies: The Controversy Over Tinkering with Microcomputers in Taiwan, 1980-1984,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 33, no. 2 (2011): 75-88.

“Cold War Politics: Taiwanese Computing in the 1950s and 1960s,” Think Piece column, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 32, no. 1 (2010): 92-95.

Invited Presentations

Discussant for the panel titled “The Future of SHOT (Society for the History of Technology),” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, St. Louis, Missouri, Oct. 11-14, 2018.

Discussant for the panel titled “The Measure of Men: Human-Machine Encounters in East Asia’s Long Twentieth Century,” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Philadelphia, Oct. 26-29, 2017.

“Econometric Models and Computers: Manufacturing Economic Planning Projects in Taiwan,” presented at the “Shift CTRL” workshop at Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, May 7, 2016.

“Defining Innovations during the Cold War: Transnational Flows of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Experts in Taiwan and Singapore,” presented at the workshop on “Appreciating Innovation Across Countries,” organized by Lars Heide, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov. 5-6, 2015.

Discussant for the panel titled “The Power of the Print,” the Annual Meeting of the SHOT, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 8-11, 2015.

“Materialities Roundtable,” Institute’s Colloquium, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, Jun. 16, 2015.

“From Brain Drain to Foreign Talent: the Problematics of Transnational Flows of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Experts in Singapore, 1960-1985,” presented at the third Asian Biopolies workshop, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Jul. 16-17, 2013.

“Mainframe Computers and Economic-planning Projects in Taiwan, 1962-1968,” presented at the workshop of the Effectiveness of Mathematization, organized by Ann Johnson and Johannes Lenhard at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (Zentrum für interdisziplinäre Forschung), Bielefeld University, Germany, Aug. 9-11, 2012.

“Methodological Challenges: Archival study—Historical Sources on Mainframe Computers and US aid in Taiwan,” presented at the Workshop of Practices of Science and Technology Studies: Reflexive Takes on Cross-Context Collaboration, organized by the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Japan, Aug. 24-25, 2010.

“From DIY Computers to Illegal Copies: The Controversy Over Building One’s Own Microcomputer in Taiwan, from 1980 to 1984,” presented at “New Voices, New Topics: Workshop in the History of Computing and Information,” organized by IEEE Annals of the History of Computing and the School of Information at University of Austin, Austin, Texas, Apr. 2-3, 2010.

Selected Conference Papers and Presentations

“Between ‘Magnificent Machine’ and ‘Elusive Device’—Wassily Leontief’s Input-output Analysis and its International Applicability,” the Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT), Singapore, Jun. 22-27, 2016 

“Econometric Models and Computers: Manufacturing Economic Planning Projects in Taiwan,” presented at the Annual Meeting for the American Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, Jan. 7-10, 2016

“To Raise Pigs or Not: Negotiating over Agricultural Labor, Expertise, and Technology in Singapore’s Industrialization,” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Dearborn, Michigan, Nov. 6-9, 2014

“Negotiating Competing Sociotechnical Imaginaries between Taiwanese Technologists and United Nations Officials: A Cold War Technical-aid Program in Electronics Science and Digital Electronic Computing, 1958–64,” presented at the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct. 4-7, 2012

“Mainframe Computers and Economic-planning Projects in Taiwan, 1962-1968: Electronic Computing, Econometric Models, and Development Discourse,” presented at the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 3-6, 2011

“Building a Technological System of Mainframe Computers in Taiwan, 1962-1966: National Chiao-Tung University, the Taiwan Power Company, and Electronic Computing Centers in Taiwan,” presented at the Annual Meeting of 4S, Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 25-29, 2010

“Science, Technical Aid, and Tinkering with Mainframe Computing in Cold War Taiwan, 1955-1965,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the History for Science Society (HSS), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nov. 6-9, 2008

“Engineers, International Aid Programs, and Mainframe Computing in Taiwan, circa 1960,” presented at the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 11-14, 2008

Organized Panels

“Promises and Challenges of Doing International History of Technology, President’s Roundtable,” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Dearborn, Michigan, Nov. 6-9, 2014 (Co-organized with the SHOT Internationalization Committee)

“Integrating SHOT SIG (Special Interest Group) Concerns into the Teaching of History of Technology: Rethinking Modes of Instruction in a Diverse Communities, President’s Roundtable,” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Portland, Maine, Oct. 10-13, 2013 (Co-organized with Francesca Bray)

“Professional Development: 6S Student Activity,” the Annual Meeting of the Society of the Social Studies of Science (4S), Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 25-29, 2010

“Building Technologies in Cold War Asia—Technical Assistance Programs, International collaborations, and technological dialogue,” the Annual Meeting of SHOT, Lisbon, Portugal, Oct. 11-14, 2008

“Science, Technology, and Medicine in Transit in East Asia, 1944-1993,” the 12th meeting for the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology, & Medicine (ISHEASTM), Baltimore, Maryland, Jul. 14-18, 2008

Society for the History of Technology

American Historical Association

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