The Computer

Before they revolutionized how we live and communicate, computers were thought to be everything from an existential threat to a dying fad. Even Wozniak publicly doubted their usefulness. Here are some early headlines that reflect both old and enduring fears about where the computer will lead us.

Lowly Machine to Overtake Man, Rule Universe

The Southeast Missourian  | April 16th, 1948

The day is drawing nigh when machines will overthrow mankind and rule the world. Year by year man and his civilization are growing more dependent upon the machine. And the time is near when the machine will take power into his own hands.

 

Some Believe Computers Can Have Evil Effects

Daytona Beach Morning Journal | December 15th, 1962

Faceless machines that can out think any man steadily move into new areas formerly reserved for the mind. They are electronic computers, capable of advising a sausage maker on the best mixture of meats or a doctor on the genetic code of life. Here’s a graphic report on wondrous new benefits produced by these thinking machines, and a look at what some feel are its possible evil effects.

 

Electronic Brains May Soon Have Little to Do

Sarasota Journal | June 12th, 1952

So many electronic brains are being created that scientists now are trying to figure out ways to make the best use of them. About 47 of the giant-size computers will be in existence within a year or so. It was only 1946 that the first one, called ENIAC was created at the University of Pennsylvania

 

Computers May Create New Danger in Air Transportation

The Times-New | February 27th, 1976

Sophisticated computers designed to improve the safety of air transportation could also pose a new danger by reducing oral communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, federal safety investigators say.

 

Apple Wizard Says Computer ‘Fad’ Dying

The Pantagraph | January 20th, 1985

An astonishing blast of heresy casting doubt on the future of the computer in modern life has come from the very persom who designed the first personal computer and is one of Silicon Valley’s major heroes, Steven Wozniak. 

Wozniak says: The home computer may be going the way of the way of video games, which are a dying fad.

 

Home Computers Still Seek Market

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | March 26th, 1985

Some people, even those in the industry, wonder whether the market is there at all. No matter how many features are provided, many feel, the home computer might not have any compelling uses.

 

Survey Finds Short Circuit in Home Computer ‘Fad’

Green Bay Press-Gazette | July 30th, 1985

T hree years ago, it seemed everyone had to ahve a living-room computer. Now there are publihsed recports that many of the highly advertised items are being relegated to the closet, along with citizens-band radios, scanners and other electronic gear whose sales once boomed.

Students Flee Field as Computer Fad Fades

The Bismarck Tribune | January 20th, 1987

College students have stopped flocking to computer science programs after learning job prospects are not as bright and that the field is more difficult than they had thought, university officials say. 

“They found out that they had to take calculus, they had to take physics. It’s not a video games major…”

 

Teachers Must Fight Computers

Ottawa Citizen  | November 30th, 1981

If teachers don’t stand up to the growing invasion of computers in the clasroom, there’s a good chance literacy will disappear in 10 years, says a visiting professor at Charleston University. 

Microprocessors in the classroom are threatening to replace teachers and the only ones who can halt this are the teachers themselves.

 

Horror Stories Lurk in the Spreadsheets of Personal Computers

The Telegraph | July 20th, 1986

“Tens of millions of dollars are being lost every year by companies, both large and small, that misuse spreadsheets like Lotus 1-2-3 or VisiCalc,” said the president of Palo Alto Research Group.

 

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