Among the attractions at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium, visitors would have beheld “Professor RAMAC,” a four-ton IBM machine capable of offering up responses to users’ queries on a two thousand year historical span… [T]he Professor offered the general public its first encounter with the magnetic disk storage technology today called the hard drive…. In 1950 Edmund C. Berkeley had published a book entitled Giant Brains: or Machines That Think, the first work to introduce computers to a general audience. The shift from Berkeley’s anthropomorphism to the RAMAC’s full-fledged personification as a “Professor” or “genius” hints at the kinds of synthetic identities that would culminate with Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000 only a decade later. —Matthew G. Kirschenbaum —An Excerpt from Mechanisms : ‘Professor RAMAC’ (MGK)
I left a niggly comment on the author’s blog. It somehow didn’t feel right simply posting, “Thanks, I enjoyed that.”
To quote a student of mine… heck, phooey and darn. I got distracted before I hit “submit” on that comment and now it’s gone. Drat.