This bibliography is provided here as a resource for researchers on the early history of cybernetics. It covers the period from classical times up to around 1956, and so represents the subject as it was conceived towards the end of the first decade of its modern existence. Opinions as to exactly what is covered by cybernetics must necessarily be somewhat subjective, so it cannot be claimed that this bibliography is in any strict sense complete, nor that it includes no items that will strike some people as being irrelevant. However, it is hoped that it will go at least some way towards recreating the atmosphere in which cybernetics was developed, and give today's researchers some idea of what it felt like to be working in the field at the time.
The majority of entries are contributions to cybernetics, conceived as including: communication and information theory, the mathematical biophysics of the central nervous system, theory of automata, general systems theory, and some of the wider aspect of the design of computers and servomechanisms. Applications of communication theory, or of information measures to human physiology or psychology, or to the study of social systems, are included when they appear to have been based on the recognition of the essential unity of the cybernetic approach. Also included are ancient works of special historical interest, general introductions to the subject matter and approach of cybernetics intended for a lay public, results in pure mathematics which are of fundamental importance to cybernetics, and discussions of the philosophical assumptions and implications of the science.
The main list is arranged in alphabetical order of author's surname. The work of each author is listed by date of publication. Joint work comes after the contributions of the senior author.
Having arisen from a successful attempt to establish communication across the traditional divisions of scientific inquiry, cybernetics owes much to conferences and symposia attended by representatives of several different specialisms. For the same reason, many of the important texts are edited collections of articles. These have been put in a section of their own, coming after the alphabetical list. Where possible, they are entered under the name of the editor or of the body responsible for them, otherwise under the title.