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

ISBN : 9780199921553

James W. Cortada
816 ページ
177 x 242 mm

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.


1. How Much Computing Is in The World?
2. Diffusion of Computing Starts in the United States
3. Early Western European Deployment: Great Britain, France and West Germany
4. Diffusion of Computing in Italy, Netherlands, and Sweden
5. How Western Europe Embraced Information Technologies
6. Limits of Diffusion: Computing in the Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic and Eastern Europe
7. Computing Comes to Japan
8. Diffusion of Computing into South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore
9. China: Embracing IT in Changing Times
10. India AND THE Limits of Digital Diffusion
11. How Asia Embraced Information Technologies
12. Diffusion of Information Technologies: Results and Implications
A. Preparing a Global Diffusion History: Lessons Learned, Paths Not Taken
B. Wave One and Wave Two Compared
Bibliographic Essay


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.