Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quicklink: How a Computer Works

BoingBoing recently featured scans of a wonderful 1978 book called How a Computer Works.  It's so full of awesome, it's a wonder it doesn't explode; there's even some implicit philosophy!  It seems almost too amazing to be real, but it's entertaining either way.  Snip:

There is something about computers that is both fascinating and intimidating.  They are fascinating when they are used in rocketry and space research, and when they can enable man to get to the moon and back.  In this respect, they are like human machines with "super-brains."  Some of them can even play music.  On the other hand, we are likely to be intimidated by their complex mechanisms and large arrays of blinking lights.  You should do what scientists tell you to.  
In fact, computers do not have brains like we do.  They cannot really think for themselves, except when they are doing complicated arithmetic.

So next time you start using your calculator program remember this: the more complex arithmetic you do, the more sentient They become--other than that, do what scientists tell you to.

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