Ronald R. Kline

Ronald R. Kline

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Frank H T Rhodes Hall, Room 394
S.G. and H.E. Bovay Professor in History and Ethics of Engineering
Science and Technology Studies Department in the College of Arts and Sciences


After completing a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin--Madison in 1983, Ronald Kline served as director of the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in New York City from 1984 to 1987. He joined Cornell University in 1987, and is now Sue G. and Harry E. Bovay Professor in History and Ethics of Engineering at Cornell, and director of the Bovay Program under that name in the Engineering College. He holds a joint appointment between the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and the Science and Technology Studies Department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Kline has supervised a dozen Ph.D. graduate students in Science and Technology Studies, who have studied the history of a wide range of technologies--from slave collars in antebellum America to laptop manufacturing in Taiwan. The author of three books and over 30 articles on the history of engineering, rural technology, cybernetics, information theory, and communication technology, Kline is currently working on a book about the digitalization of computers and communications in the United States during the Cold War.

His first book, Steinmetz: Engineer and Socialist, was the subject of a PBS documentary film, "Divine Discontent," released in Summer 2014.

Research Interests

History of engineering, cybernetics, information theory, and information technology; engineering ethics.

Teaching Interests

History of technology; history of information technology, engineering ethics.

Selected Publications

  • Kline, Ronald R. 2015.The Cybernetics Moment, Or Why We Call Our Age the Information Age.Baltimore, MD:Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Kline, Ronald R. 2009."Where are the Cyborgs in Cybernetics?."Social Studies of Science33(3): 331-362.
  • Kline, Ronald R. 2006."Cybernetics, Management Science, and Technology Policy - The Emergence of "Information Technology" as a Keyword, 1948-1985."Technology and Culture47(3): 513-535.
  • Kline, Ronald R. 2004."What Is Information Theory a Theory Of? Boundary Work among Information Theorists and Information Scientists in the United States and Britain during the Cold War." The History and Heritage of Scientific and Technical Information Systems: Proceedings of the 2002 Conference, Chemical Heritage Foundation, Medford, NJ
  • Kline, Ronald R. 2000.Consumers in the Country: Technology and Social Change in Rural America.Paperback edition, 2002.Baltimore, MD, United States:Johns Hopkins University Press.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Leonardo da Vinci Medal(Society for the History of Technology (SHOT))2016
  • Outstanding Educator for Having Influenced Merrill Presidential Scholar(Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo, Cornell University)2008
  • IEEE Third Millennium Medal(EEE Society on Social Implications of Technology)2000


  • BS(Electrical Engineering),Kansas State University,1969
  • MA(History of Science),University of Wisconsin-Madison,1979
  • Ph D(History of Science),University of Wisconsin-Madison,1983

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