The Banishment of Paper-Work

Arthur L. Samuel

Abstract


It may come as a surprise to some to be told that the modern digital computer is really quite old in concept, and the year 1984 will be celebrated as the 150th anniversary of the invention of the first computer the Analytical Engine of the Englishman Charles Babbage. One hundred and fifty years is really quite a long period of time in terms of modern science and industry and, at first glance, it seems unduly long for new concept to come into full fruition. Unfortunately, Charles Babbage was ahead of his time, and it took one hundred years of technical development, the impetus of the second World War and the perception of John Von Neumann to bring the computer into being. Now twenty years later and with several generations of computer behind us, we are in a position to make a somewhat more meaningful prognosis than appeared possible in, say 1948. We can only hope that we will not be as far off actuality as we believe George Orwell to be, or as far off in our time scale as were Charles Babbage and his almost equally famous interpreter, Lady Lovelace.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v4i2.396

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