Monday, August 28, 2006

History of Human Computers

Google has a video on a history of human computers
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6421374843129726982
presented by David Alen Grier who wrote a book on the subject (When computers were human).

Half way through, I started to feel that the talk was centering too much on the human part of the story but then I realized that the non-human part had been presented by many, many times before so, yes, it is interesting to know who were these people that spend their days writing down calculations.

I especially liked the part where he mentions function tables because it brought me back to my youth when I would browse through the mathematical handbook that my dad had long stopped using and read numbers, the formulas too of course. The numbers where interesting because they are a bit random, which in itself is a facinating concept (if you are young enough!).
The tables of powers of two where also good fun!

Anyways, I found out that human computers where not well respected as the were effectively clerks working under the command of the "planners".

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