[PW] Kenneth Olsen Computer Quote (Quotation Query #745)

Donna Halper dlh at donnahalper.com
Sun May 8 09:57:58 PDT 2016

On 5/8/2016 11:53 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> Kenneth H. Olsen of the DEC Corporation is often credited with saying something like "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home" in a speech to the World Future Society in Boston in 1977.  Often it is said that Olsen was quoted to this effect in Time Magazine in 1977.

Great question-- I wonder if this is another example of an apocryphal 
quote that supposedly shows the hypocrisy or short-sightedness of a 
famous person, like when a popular children's show host (such as Uncle 
Don or Bozo the Clown or Big Brother Bob Emery) is allegedly caught 
saying something horrible about children.  For one thing, the only 
meetings of the World Future Society held anywhere near Boston were some 
events in nearby Cambridge in October 1976 and October 1977.  Neither 
event seemed to be focused on computers:  one was about the future of 
the family (1976) and the other about the future of language.  I wonder 
if Edward Cornish, president of the World Future Society at that time, 
left any writings about who spoke at their events.  Examining reports of 
speeches about technology at that time, I found that nearly every one 
was quite utopian, and computers were definitely seen as essential to 
our future business and social relationships.

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