This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of a home computer built and operated more than a decade before ‘official’ home computers arrived on the scene. Yes, before the ‘trinity’ of the Apple II, the Commodore PET and the Radio Shack TRS-80 – all introduced in 1977 – Jim Sutherland, a quiet engineer and family man in Pittsburgh, was building a computer system on his own for his family. Sutherland configured this new computer system to control many aspects of his home with his wife and children as active users. It truly was a home computer – that is, the house itself was part of the computer and its use was integrated into the family’s daily routines.
“It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.” (Elizabeth Blackwell).
Jim Sutherland’s wife Ruth got to the point:
“Therefore, one source of frustration to the homemaker is relieved because she is working with a device that is always precisely predictable.”
That’s why there will never be any real creativity from a computer, just repeating what it is being told to do = no A.I., at least not the creative and independently judging part.
Especially when it comes to years. Here’s a quote:
” Formatting changes and page numbers could be automatically added to printed documents and, in 1975, ECHO IV was used to format a 516-page scholarly book on post-Revolutionary War land grant surveys. Here again is Gibsonâ€™s â€˜unevenly distributedâ€™ future â€“ it would be decades before people would be doing word processing at home on their own computer.”
Decades? _Decades_? Decades from 1975 would be, like 2010 or so, multiple amounts of ten years. In fact, in 1975, word processing was common, just read Pournelle’s Chaos Manor column in Byte. In 1982, seven years after 1975, we had the ZX Spectrum, and there was word processing software for it. And it was late to the game, but that was the computer I used back then.