Maxwell and the Origins of Cybernetics

  title={Maxwell and the Origins of Cybernetics},
  author={Otto Mayr},
  pages={425 - 444}
  • O. Mayr
  • Published 1 December 1971
  • Sociology
  • Isis
We have decided to call the entire field of control and communication theory, whether in the machine or in the animal, by the name Cybernetics, which we form from the Greek XuPspvwyn or steersman. In choosing this term, we wish to recognize that the first significant paper on feedback mechanisms is an article on governors, which was published by Clerk Maxwell in 1868, and that governor is derived from a Latin corruption of XuPspvt,v:,q.1 -NORBERT WIENER 
Technological Concepts and Mathematical Models in the Evolution of Control Engineering
The fundamental concept underlying the theory and practice of control engineering is negative feedback, and the word “feedback” dates from 1920 when it was used to describe parasitic connections in a wireless amplifier which resulted in local oscillations’.
James Clerk Maxwell's Glasgow manuscripts: extracts relating to control and stability
Four of Maxwell's letters which were written to William Thomson, and are currently held by Glasgow University Library, are reproduced and discussed. Some of the material relates to control, and leads
Origin of Stability Analysis: \"On Governors\" by J.C. Maxwell [Historical Perspectives]
  • C. Kang
  • Engineering
    IEEE Control Systems
  • 2016
In 1868, James C. Maxwell published a paper, "On Governors," in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London [1]. This paper was overlooked for a long time because it was deemed by many to be difficult
Avec un "s": histories of cybernetics and the ASC
The article provides a proposal to reconstruct such an archive for the history of the American Society of Cybernetics (ASC) as an organization and a productive network.
Feedback Control and the History of Technology
The history of technology is a rich and fascinating subject, combining engineering with economic, social, and political factors. Technology seems to advance in waves. Small advances in science and
James Clerk Maxwell's Cambridge manuscripts: extracts relating to control and stability. VI
Maxwell's manuscripts held at Cambridge University Library contain several items of interest from a control or stability point of view. The extracts reproduced in Part III consist mainly of a draft
A brief history of automatic control
The author looks at the history of automatic control in four main periods as follows: early control up to 1900; the pre-classical period 1900-1940; the classical period 1935-1960; and modem control
History of Automatic Control to 1960: An Overview
Abstract An outline of the development of control devices and control theory from the earliest times is given. Devices discussed include the steam engine governor, process controllers, and
Feedback and Control I: History and Classical Methodologies
This chapter offers a good review of the field which allows the reader to see the role of feedback as a pillar of life and society, and can be used as a quick reference source for all scientists interested in the field of feedback and classical control.
Secondary sources for the history of control engineering : an annotated bibliography
Nearly two hundred references to secondary sources for the history of control engineering are given, the scope of the most important being outlined under the headings: general surveys; antiquity;


" Die Entwicklung des Problems der stetigen Kraftmaschinenregelung nebst einem Versuch der Theorie unstetiger Regelungsvorgange
  • Zeitschrift fir Mathematik und Physik
  • 1904
Descriptions of this model are also given on pp. 551-554, and by
  • as a footnote in the 3rd ed. of Maxwell's Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism