this post is originally from my old and abandoned blog:
i was reading the annals of the new york academy of sciences on computer culture in 1984 and this statement by a bell labs researcher reminds me how much has changed in the practice of computing:
“quite a few years i prided myself in the building of an early home-brew computer. people always asked me what it was good for. they still do. i have consistently answered that it is not good for anything. it does not control the heating of my house, nor does it balance my checkbook. it does not keep the inventory of our kitchen supplies or the names on our Christmas card list. no, i just like having it. i like to make it work, to write systems and applications programs that serve no purpose whatsoever.”
So couple days ago, I came across this image from the twitter feed of Alan Liu:
At first I thought it’s a funny advertisement from the past. But then, when I think again, the spirit of this ad still echoes in the time we live right now. We still see ads for technological gimmicks like this fridge that can tweet:
It makes me wonder that maybe we always have a blind optimism that technology is the inevitable agent for human progress. Especially with ‘there’s an app for that’ anthem in the computing industry.
On a funny note, when my son saw the calculating pencil ad, he told me that he wanted them. Maybe he needed it to work on his mathematical exercises 🙂