Personalbild von Martin Schmitt

Dr. Martin Schmitt

History of Technology

Research and teaching fellow


work +49 6151 16-57327
fax +49 615116-57464

Work S4|23 324
Landwehrstr. 50 A
Postal adress: Dolivostr. 15
64293 Darmstadt

Martin Schmitt is research and teaching fellow at the department of History of Technology. He is working on the history of computing in East and West Germany using the example of the banking industry.

By arrangement

since 04/2019

Research and teaching fellow, Technical University of Darmstadt

10/2018 – 03/2019

Research and teaching fellow, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg

since 03/2018

Associated doctoral student at the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam

06/2014 – 02/2018

Research and teaching fellow doctoral student at the Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam. Supervisor: Prof. Frank Bösch

10/2009 – 05/2014

IT assistant at the Institute for Contemporary History, Tuebingen.


Visiting student at the University of Cambridge, supervisor: Prof. Dr. Eckart Conze.

09/2007 – 08/2008, 05/2009 – 05/2014

Library staff member at the University Library, Tübingen.

10/2005 – 05/2014

Magister (M.A.) program in Modern History (major), informatics and political science (minors) at the Universities of Tuebingen and Madrid


Internet im Kalten Krieg. Eine Vorgeschichte des globalen Kommunikationsnetzes. transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2016.

Histories of Computing in Eastern Europe. Springer, Cham 2019 (ed. with Christopher Leslie)

Articles (peer reviewed)

The Future of Digital Banking: German Savings Banks in East- and West-Germany. In: Dick van Lente (ed.): Prophets of Computing: Visions of Society Transformed by Computing. (forthcoming 2020)

Socialist Life of a U.S. Army Computer in the GDR’s Financial Sector: Import of Western Information Technology into Eastern Europe in the Early 1960s. In: Christopher Leslie, Martin Schmitt (ed.): Histories of Computing in Eastern Europe. Springer, Cham 2019, S. 139-164.

„Digitalisierung in den Sparkassen Ost-und West-Berlins“, in: Wissenschaftsförderung der Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe e. V. (ed.): Wendezeiten. Sparkassen in historischen Umbrüchen am Beispiel Berlins, Stuttgart: Deutscher Sparkassenverlag 2019 (Sparkassen in der Geschichte, Abteilung 1: Dokumentation 33), S. 85–108.

Vernetzte Bankenwelt. Computerisierung in der Kreditwirtschaft der Bundesrepublik und der DDR. [Banking Networks: Computerization in the East- and West-German banking sector] In: Frank Bösch (ed.): Wege in die digitale Gesellschaft: Computernutzung in der Bundesrepublik 1955-1990, Göttingen 2018, p. 126-147.

Der Wert des Kunden. Computerisierung in bundesdeutschen Sparkassen am Beispiel der Privatkreditvergabe, [Customer values. Computerization in the East- and West-German credit service sector] in: Bösch, Frank; Sabrow, Martin: ZeitRäume 2017 (=Potsdamer Almanach des Zentrums für Zeithistorische Forschung), Göttingen, S. 119–134.

The Informational Men, in: Martin Degeling, Julius Othmer, Andreas Weich, Bianca Westermann (Hg.): Profile. Interdisziplinäre Beiträge, Lüneburg 2017, S. 59-80.

The Code of Banking. Software as the Digitalization of German Savings Banks, in: Tatnall, Arthur/Leslie, Christopher (eds.): International communities of invention and innovation (= IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology 491), New York, NY. 2016, p. 141–164.

Digitalgeschichte Deutschlands. Ein Forschungsbericht. In: Technikgeschichte 83, Heft 1 (2016), p. 33 – 70 [with Julia Erdogan, Thomas Kasper, Janine Funke]

Reviews & conference reports

Conference report: 30 Jahre Transmediale – immer noch flüchtig? 02.05.2017 – 05.02.2017 Berlin, in: Zeitgeschichte-online, Februar 2017,

Conference report: HT 2016: Wege in die Computergesellschaft. Folgen digitaler Datenerfassung seit den 1950er Jahren, 20.09.2016 – 23.09.2016 Hamburg, in: H-Soz-Kult, 15.10.2016,

Conference report: Die Zukunft der Digitalgeschichte, 10.06.2016 – 12.06.2016 Siegen, in: H-Soz-Kult, 05.10.2016,

Identity in the Digital Age. Exibition review of „Nervöse Systeme – Quantifiziertes Leben und die soziale Frage“. In: Zeitgeschichte-online, [April 2016].

Kline, Ronald R.: The Cybernetics Moment. Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age. Baltimore 2015, in: H-Soz-Kult, 25.02.2016.

Conference report: Utopie & Alltag. Perspektiven auf Ideal und Praxis im 20. Jahrhundert, 23.04.2015 – 24.04.2015 Potsdam, in: H-Soz-Kult, 29.05.2015, (with Janine Funke, geb. Noack)

Review of: Clemens Apprich / Felix Stalder (eds.): Vergessene Zukunft. Radikale Netzkulturen in Europa, Bielefeld: transcript 2012, in: sehepunkte 13 (2013), Nr. 5, 15.05.2013,

Digitalisation of German banking

Computer technology in East and West German savings banks, 1957–1991

PhD project

Hardly any other technology has changed the German economy as much as the digital computers. However, the process of digitalization goes back further than is generally assumed. By the early 1960s, for example, banks and savings banks in both German states had started digitizing their business processes.

Banks therefore stood for a broader trend in the German economy on its way to the digital age. How and why did companies in the Federal Republic and the GDR employ computer technology? Which kinds of interactions can be identified, i.e. how did digitalization affect companies, and how did the latter, in turn, affect the development of computer technology and software? Questions such as these are being examined through research in the history of computing.

Martin Schmitt’s study focuses on changes in the work place, from the labor market to work processes in companies, and on gender issues, for example in data collection. In addition, it looks at networking processes which, from the end of the 1970s onwards, have increased the interdependence of economic actors. Thirdly, it focuses on changes in spatial and temporal structures. A comparative view between East and West Germany will serve to determine the transformational effects of digitization beyond political systems.

Completed projects

The Internet is seen as the dominant medium of communication of the 21st Century. But over the course of its history its meaning has shifted from being regarded as a harbinger of freedom to being eyed as a tool of surveillance and control. Where did this historical process originate? This question was examined by historicizing the early developments of the Arpanet as predecessor of the Internet in the USA between 1968-1975. The findings of my research suggest that besides the military actors and scientists, also the counterculture participated in building the network. All actors alike conceptualized the Internet as a cybernetic system in the Cold War. Tendencies towards freedom as well as towards certain levels of control lay at the very foundations of its infrastructure, which was demonstrated by an in-depth historical and technical analysis.

This project was located at the Department of History’s Seminar für Zeitgeschichte of the Eberhard Karls University at Tübingen, Germany, and completed under the supervision of Prof. Anselm Doering-Manteuffel and Prof. Klaus Gestwa. In 2016, its publication in German was generously funded by the Leibniz-Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam.

Award for Young Researchers in History of Communication 2016, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (DGPuk) for his master thesis: „Internet in the Cold War“ (“Die Frühgeschichte des Internet”).

Second prize at the poster competition 2016 at the 51st Convention of German Historians, funded by Gerda Henkel Foundation; poster presentation: “Digitalization of German banking”

  • Vice Chair of IFIP Working Group 9.7 „History of Computing“
  • Working Group “Data and Networks”, Society for Media Studies
  • Working Group Informatics and History of Computing", German Informatics Society
  • SIGCIS – Special Interest Group Computers, Information and Society

University of Potsdam:

Winter term 2015/16

Seminar class: “Aufbrüche in das digitale Zeitalter: Computernutzungen im Kalten Krieg“ (with Frank Bösch)

Winter term 2017/18

Seminar class ”Theorie und Methodik der zeitgeschichtlichen Forschung“ (cover for Frank Bösch)

Freie Universität Berlin:

Summer term 2017

Workshop ”Introduction to Digital Humanities. How to do global history in the Digital Age“ (with Thomas Werneke at the Global History Student Conference 2017)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:

Winter term 2018/19

Class: ”Aufbrüche in das digitale Zeitalter: Computernutzungen im Kalten Krieg“

Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg:

Winter term 2018/19

Class: “Computerisierung zwischen Militär, Industrie und Gesellschaft, 1940-1980”

TU Darmstadt

Summer term 2019

Class: “Einführung in die moderne Technikgeschichte”

Winter term 2019/2020

Class: “Einführung in die moderne Technikgeschichte”