History of Health Care Computing

  • Kathryn J. Hannah
  • Marion J. Ball
  • Margaret J. A. Edwards
Part of the Health Informatics book series (HI)


Since the beginning of time, people have invented tools to help them. Tracing the evolution of computers gives us a clearer historical vantage point from which to view our fast changing world. This approach also identifies informatics as a tool that will advance the goal of high quality nursing care. From a historical perspective, however, it is difficult to identify the true origin of computers. For instance, we could go back in time to the devices introduced by Moslem scientists and to the mathematicians of the fifteenth century. An example is Al-Kashi, who designed his plate of conjunctions to calculate the exact hour at which two planets would have the same longitude (de S. Price, 1959; Goldstine, 1972). A more familiar example is the first rudimentary calculating tool, the Chinese abacus. This is still a rapid and efficient method of handling addition and subtraction.


Hospital Information System Hospital Administrator Medical Information System Health Care Market American Hospital Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  2. Ball, M.J., and Jacobs, S.E. Information systems: The status of level 1. Information Systems 1980: 179–186.Google Scholar
  3. Bitzer, M.D. Self-Directed Inquiry in Clinical Nursing Instruction by Means of PLATO Simutated Laboratory. Report R-184, Co-ordinated Science Laboratory. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1963.Google Scholar
  4. Blumberg, M.S. Automation offers savings opportunities. Modern Hospital 1958; 91: 59.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. de S. Price, D. J. An ancient Greek computer. Scientific American 1959; 200 (6): 6067.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goldstine, H.H. The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972: 5, 69.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn J. Hannah
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marion J. Ball
    • 3
    • 4
  • Margaret J. A. Edwards
    • 5
  1. 1.Health InformaticsSierra Systems Consultants, Inc.CalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Science, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of Maryland School of MedicineUSA
  4. 4.First Consulting GroupBaltimoreUSA
  5. 5.Margaret J.A. Edwards and Associates, Inc.CalgaryCanada

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