Elizabeth Petrick

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Elizabeth Petrick received her PhD in History and Science Studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2012. She also has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. She studies the history of computer technology, the relationship between technology and users (particularly, users with disabilities), and how technology relates to civil rights.

Dr. Petrick's first book, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2015. It was the winner of the 2017 Computer History Museum Book Prize. Her current research involves the history of tablet computers and how ideas behind what tablets were good for drove their development within multiple companies and research groups since the 1970s. She also runs a digital humanities project, the Annotated Patent History Digital Archive, at patenthistory.org.

Dr. Petrick teaches courses on the relationships between technology, society, and law, as well as disability history.

Selected Publications:

  • E. Petrick, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015).

  • E. Petrick, “The Computer as Prosthesis? Embodiment, Augmentation, and Disability,” in Janet Abbate and Stephanie Dick, eds, Abstractions and Embodiments: New Histories of Computing and Society (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2022): 399-415.

  • E. Petrick, "A Historiography of Human-Computer Interaction," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Special Issue on “Interface Architects: The Evolution of Human–Computer Interaction,” 42, no. 4 (October-December, 2020): 8-23.

  • E. Petrick, “Building the Black Box: Cyberneticians and Complex Systems,” Science, Technology, & Human Values, Special Issue on “Unpacking the Black Box,” 45, no. 4 (July 1, 2020): 575–595.


Research Areas

Computer Technology; Human-Computer Interaction; Disability; Civil Rights


PhD, University of California, San Diego

MA, University of California, San Diego

BA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Societies & Organizations

Special Interest Group for Computing, Information, and Society

Society for the History of Technology

History of Science Society

Honors & Awards

2019 ACM SIGCSE Top Ten Symposium Papers of All Time Award, Top Ranked Paper

2017 Computer History Museum Book Prize


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