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All the FactsA History of Information in the United States since 1870$
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James W. Cortada

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190460679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460679.001.0001

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Informing the Business of America, 1945–1998

Informing the Business of America, 1945–1998

Chapter:
(p.281) Chapter 7 Informing the Business of America, 1945–1998
Source:
All the Facts
Author(s):

James W. Cortada

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190460679.003.0008

The American economy expanded massively after 1945, resulting in changes in the role of management, organization, and work, all requiring more and varied information. Information ecosystems transformed, and businesses began to use computers to collect, store, and analyze information. The new information ecosystems are described, and the chapter provides an assessment of how much information was used in this period. This chapter confronts the centrality of the computer in American history, describing how its use came about and the nature of its role. However, more important, the chapter argues that it was the ability to collect, analyze, and use more information more quickly, accurately, and less expensively that shaped the modern business enterprise. In other words, what information and how it was used is the central focus of the chapter, placing computers into a secondary supportive role. By doing that, it becomes possible to consider other types of information being used, arguing that there were more information-related activities underway than just the use of computers. These included education, books, paper files, conversations, use of social and business networks, and telecommunications, of course.

Keywords:   economy, business, computer, information ecosystem, information user, information

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