petrick headshot


Ph.D. History/Science Studies, 2012, University of California, San Diego
M.A. History, 2009, University of California, San Diego

B.S. Computer Science, 2003, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Areas of Interest:

  • Computer Technology
  • Interfaces
  • Disability
  • Civil Rights

Research and Teaching:

Elizabeth Petrick received her PhD in History and Science Studies from the University of California, San Diego in 2012. She also has a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. She studies the history of computer technology, the relationship between technology and users (particularly, users with disabilities), and how technology relates to civil rights.

Dr. Petrick's first book, Making Computers Accessible: Disability Rights and Digital Technology, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press in 2015. It was the winner of the 2017 Computer History Museum Book Prize. Her current research involves the history of tablet computers and how ideas behind what tablets were good for drove their development within multiple companies and research groups since the 1970s. She also runs a digital humanities project, the Annotated Patent History Digital Archive, at

Dr. Petrick teaches courses on the relationships between technology, society, and law, as well as disability history.

Selected Publications:

  • E. Petrick, "A Historiography of Human-Computer Interaction," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Special Issue on “Interface Architects: The Evolution of Human–Computer Interaction,” 42, no. 4 (October-December, 2020): 8-23.
  • E. Petrick, “Building the Black Box: Cyberneticians and Complex Systems,” Science, Technology, & Human Values 45, no. 4 (July 1, 2020): 575–595.
  • E. Petrick, "Curb Cuts and Computers: Advocating for Design Equality in the 1980s," Design Issues 35, no. 4 (Autumn 2019): 23-32.
  • E. Petrick, “Imagining the Personal Computer: Conceptualizations of the Homebrew Computer Club 1975-1977,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 39, no. 4 (October-December 2017): 27-39.
  • L. C. Kaczmarczyk, E. R. Petrick, J. P. East, and G. L. Herman, “Identifying student misconceptions of programming,” In Proceedings of the 41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '10), ACM, New York, NY, USA (2010): 107-111.

Profile photo courtesy of Heather Van Uxem Lewis