Round logo for The Computer Church -- a collection of rare computers and vintage documents that catalog the history of computing
The Computer Church
Home       Visit Us       Contact Us       About Us       Volunteers       Donate       Collection List      

 YEAR: February 1951
 ITEM: Periodical
 PUBLISHER: Street and Smith Publications
 Volume: XLVI
  Number: 6
RARITY: Not rare   Click here for further information on our rarity scale Information on the rarity of this item is unknown.

Astounding Science Fiction: 1951 Feb.


As one might expect, this periodical is home to some of America's great science fiction writers. And yet, this particular issue (and another a year later) contains some astounding scientific fact as well. This issue of Astounding Science Fiction" includes an article by Edmund Berkeley entitled, As Quick as Thought. Berkeley opens with article with this paragraph,

Thinking is done by men, some animals and machines. A dozen years ago, unless we were then readers of science fiction, we might not have included machines. But today there exists in hardware at least fifteen giant mechanical brains busily engaged in thinking.

Edmund was a pioneer in computing. He co-founded the Association for Computing Machinery in 1947. And, in 1949, he published his seminal book Giant Brains, or Machines That Think. He is credited with designing what could be called the first personal computer that he named SIMON (there is a long list of what could be called a first personal computers). Edmund was also very much interested in education and created several early toy computers for kids such as the Brainiac and Geniac. So it's no wonder he is writing in this famous science fiction give the science fiction writers a heads up as to what is soon to no longer be fiction, but fact.

Berkeley explicitly makes that point in the last two paragraphs of his article.

So, for the writers and readers of science fiction, we can estimate a bench mark for the maximum speed of thought in the mechanical brain of the future in science fiction. This speed is something like one hundred million times faster than a human being.

In other words--and with appropriate suppositions--the thinking of a future science fiction mechanical brain over a quarter of a minute is in quantity about equal to the thinking of a human being over a lifetime of seventy years!

We have three copies of this periodical.

Copyright © 2023 by Early Computers Project, All Rights Reserved.

Sorry, No Image
Records Entered.