Elizabeth Petrick

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:

  • "Curb Cuts and Computers: Advocating for Design Equality in the 1980s." Design Issues. (Forthcoming.)
  • “Imagining the Personal Computer: Conceptualizations of the Homebrew Computer Club 1975-1977.” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. V. 39, no. 4, October-December 2017, pages 27-39.
  • Lisa C. Kaczmarczyk, Elizabeth R. Petrick, J. Philip East, and Geoffrey L. Herman. 2010. “Identifying student misconceptions of programming.” In Proceedings of the 41st ACM technical symposium on computer science education (SIGCSE '10). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 107-111.

Profile photo courtesy of Heather Van Uxem Lewis

Research Areas

Computer Technology; Use of Technology; Disability; Civil Rights


PhD, University of California, San Diego

MA, University of California, San Diego

BA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


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