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 YEAR: July 1949
 ITEM: Periodical
 PUBLISHER: Scientific American
 Volume: 181
  Number: 1
RARITY: Not rare   Click here for further information on our rarity scale Information on the rarity of this item is unknown.

Scientific American 1949 July (2)

A view of the vintage Scientific American 1949 July (2) an important part of computer history
This issue of Scientific American brought to the general public a theory that had been getting a lot of attention in mathematical and computing circles. This article, by Warren Weaver, examined the recently published theory of Claude Shannon of Bell Laboratory in New Jersey. Shannon had published his theory in the October 1948 issue of the Bell System Technical Journal and, shortly thereafter, it had been released as a monograph from Bell Telephone Systems. (see related item)

Weaver's article (and a book that followed two months later), expanded Shannon's theories beyond the computing and mathematical worlds. Although Shannon had developed his model to explain machine communication, his model of communication was adopted by many human communication theorists and influenced theories of human communication for several decades. As Weaver says about Shannon's theory, "This work applies in the first instance only to the technical problem, but the theory has broader significance." (page 11)

It's also important to note that Weaver gives credit to several other theorist who had done similar work on information theory. His special mention of Norbert Wiener is appreciated.(page 11) Wiener's work in Cybernetics was very influential on the development of Shannon's theory. During WWII, Shannon traveled up to MIT to consult with Wiener many times.

  1. Dark Hero of the Information Age, Conway & Siegelman, 2005, Basic Books, p.186.

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