Is the history of Computer science on topic? I can see that you could argue that it falls under mathematical logic and therefore is on topic. Questions with this focus would include questions about Alan turing, code breaking, computability etc. The mathematical side being computer science is also an important distraction. A question about "what was the first pc?" is not computer science related.
$\begingroup$ There's some overlap here with my engineering/invention question. I agree about the first PC, but could argue that the significance of the Manchester "Baby" would be on topic. $\endgroup$– winwaedOct 29, 2014 at 21:27
$\begingroup$ Related on Area 51: discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/questions/13808/… $\endgroup$– Logan MOct 29, 2014 at 21:38
1$\begingroup$ I don't like many of JW's examples in that URL, but if hardware is on topic, then software should as well. So then we have questions on topics such as the history of the QuickSort algorithm...? $\endgroup$– winwaedOct 29, 2014 at 21:51
$\begingroup$ @winwaed I don't like many of them either :). I tried, but I am no computer scientist, nor am I a historian of computer science. As I understand it though, such historians do indeed exist, and I would not mind seeing them here. $\endgroup$– J. W. PerryOct 30, 2014 at 2:17
I would say if the question focuses on the development and application of mathematical and/or scientific knowledge, ideas and theories - then, yes, it would be on topic. Also, if the development of computers can be related to to the development of a mathematical/scientific theory would be okay, IMHO.
3$\begingroup$ Could you provide a computer science question that you think wouldn't be on topic? $\endgroup$– BMSOct 29, 2014 at 22:39
$\begingroup$ @BMS: Probably a totally "mechanical question such as one about "What are bits and bytes?" that has no "history behind it. $\endgroup$– Tom AuOct 31, 2014 at 14:10
I think the best thing to do here is to actually put up a well researched question on the history of computer science in main.
If it meets the following criterion:
It is challenging in the sense that it is not easy to find the answer on Google. The question should demonstrate prior research effort,
It is actually a question of history,
It directly relates to computing and or computer science,
then I say it is probably quite on topic. Missing any of the first two elements, it might not be well received and might disappear. Then again, we might expect a question of Physics or Math to go away missing these sorts of things as well.
You might test the waters with borderline questions, but I advise against it. If you truly think you have a good CS question that is on topic, and you really want answers, then post it.
While this overall question is still important in this phase, we already discussed this in the definition phase. I saw several CS questions that passed unscathed and even well received in the definition phase, and coming up with further unposted sample questions might not be so necessary. Ask your actual well researched and interesting history of computer science question in main, and we can sort the rest out from there.
1$\begingroup$ Sometimes "It is not easy to find on Google" can be opposed. After all the main job of SE is to collect good questions and answers. If it is easy to find on Google why does SE not have it? $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2014 at 19:19
$\begingroup$ @Alizter More than that, just because you can find it on google does not mean the quality of what you find is top notch. We can contribute there. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2014 at 19:22
Computer science is pretty unambiguously a science. I could return the question: why would its history be off-topic?
Computer technology is of course not computer science, any more than car technology is physics.
$\begingroup$ Yes I think this is a clear point to make. Many do not know the difference between Computer science and computer technology. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2014 at 14:00