The Information Machine

The Information Machine (YouTube)

A fascinating vintage piece of rhetoric. It skips a bit in the opening, but settles down quickly.



The images of room-sized computers and stacks of punch cards made me swoon. The narrator’s patient voice and the final image — of a rose fading into a heart — show an concerted effort to make computer technology into a continuation of the human effort to make functional and beautiful order out of the world, rather than something to fear.



Note the gender-specific roles assigned to the cartoon characters — a room full of white-coated female operators of some sort is followed by a very white, very male boardroom. We can’t fault the film too much for being a product of its time, of course.



The content is visionary for 1957, the year of Sputnik, when science fiction heroes were battling giant mosters and robots that looked like walking water coolers. It’s also interesting to see how computer scientists introduced the idea of mathematical simulation to the general public.