This was inspired by What engineering advances paved the way for "modern" computers?
Are history questions on-topic for Engineering.SE? We decided on HSM that history-of-engineering questions are on-topic as long as they discuss the applications of specific mathematical and/or scientific principles; History.SE doesn't seem to have discussed it but has some questions on engineering. Keep in mind, though, as Robert Cartaino said (gratuitous emphasis mine),
Don't worry about other sites.
Just saying. We shouldn't consider HSM or History in this discussion. At all. But it's something that may be relevant at some point in the far future, though I hesitate to mention it.
An engineering-history tag has been created, and history questions have popped up.