Saturday, August 14, 2010


Computers and Pencils

Max Palevsky (1924-2010), computer engineer, director at Xerox, Intel, etc., interviewed by Suzanne Muchnic, "Arty, crafty, dependable," Los Angeles Times (December 14, 2008):
"I don't own a computer," he says. "I don't own a cellphone, I don't own any electronics. I do own a radio."
Prof. Dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra (1930-2002), Department of Computer Science, University of Texas at Austin, Answers to questions from students of Software Engineering (Nov. 28, 2000, a handwritten document):
And I don't need to waste my time with a computer just because I am a computer scientist. [Medical researchers are not required to suffer from the diseases they investigate.]
Wendell Berry, "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer", New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly 10.1 (Autumn 1987):
I disbelieve, and therefore strongly resent, the assertion that I or anybody else could write better or more easily with a computer than with a pencil....To make myself as plain as I can, I should give my standards for technological innovation in my own work. They are as follows:-

1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.
2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.
3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces.
4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces.
5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body.
6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools.
7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible.
8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair.
9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.
Thanks to Jim K. for directing me to the Palevsky quotation in Hal Crowther, "One Hundred Fears of Solitude (extract)," The Telegraph (Aug. 13, 2010).


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