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

Charles Early charles.early at gmail.com
Sun May 8 10:45:25 PDT 2016

1977 seems a bit late for a prediction like that.  The first personal
computer, the Altair 8800 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_8800) was
the cover story on the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics (published
November 1974), and Ted Nelson's Computer Lib/Dream Machines, which
strongly propagandized the theme of computers for everybody, came out
earlier in 1974.

Charles Early

On Sun, May 8, 2016 at 10:57 AM, Donna Halper <dlh at donnahalper.com> wrote:

> 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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