‘A moronic worker with a strong memory’ – the invasion of the machine, 1969

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Observer Magazine tried to get a handle on the burgeoning tech revolution (‘Computer Takeover’) on October 26, 1969:’ What, then, is a computer?’ asked John Davy. It has been well described with an extraordinarily good memory as an obedient, very dimwitted employee. Ok, we all met with one of them. ‘In terms of what a machine does, there is nothing qualitatively elusive,’ he argued. ‘It’s the dumb giant’s equivalent; it may say intellectual muscle, but it owes the tech guy his brain. He acknowledged that “the computer may also challenge us to a new social effort and inventiveness,” after much gnashing of teeth, but warned: “He will be a dangerous master, but an ideal slave,’ a position difficult to reconcile with the ZX-81’s exasperating reality. The oddity of computer programmers occurs, a stereotype from the beginning.” One corporation had found that cleaning workers had a high turnover – “women in their late 50s…. nervous about working late at night without supervision when the oddly dressed and bearded programmers were the only other employees.” There was an article about the early days of electronic dating (“Dated and mated by a punchcard”).

Derek had heard an advertisement for the first computer dating system produced by Brits, Com-Pat by Piccadilly. “He suggested to her eight weeks after being introduced to Denise. Derek was asked what he told the computer about his ideal girl: “A fairly educated British spinster of fair height, easy-going and cheerful, a fashionably dressed, good-natured woman who would only expect him to help occasionally around the house because she feels the place of a woman is in the home.

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