Betwixt and between: Software in telecommunications and the programming language Chill, 1974-1999
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This thesis studies the creation, use and ultimate demise of a rather peculiar high-level programming language named Chill.1 It was peculiar in its origin, a United Nations specialised agency. It was peculiar in its application area, which was programming of large-scale telecommunication switches. It was also peculiar in its process of realisation, which was done within an international committee, consisting of a number of computer scientists, telecommunication experts and bureaucrats from different organisations and countries. The negotiations went on inside the committee for almost six years before the language was unleashed in 1980, as an official recommendation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). I analyse how the relative strength of two factors, the strategising of the telecommunication organisations and the norms of the communities of technological practitioners, oscillated throughout the periods of emergence, use and eventually demise – in short the full life cycle of the specific technology. Furthermore, I analyse how the unruly relationship between the dissolving international telecommunication regime, the communities of technological practitioners and the telecommunication organisations changed over time, and shaped Chill.