[SIGCIS-Members] Query about invention of wired networking

Emily Goodmann emily.goodmann at gmail.com
Wed Aug 25 09:55:16 PDT 2021


There are echoes of this in early telephone research. An article by John
Mills titled, "Communication with Electrical Brains," in *Bell Telephone
Quarterly* from 1934 may give you some additional research fodder and an
earlier time frame for consideration.

Best,
Emily


On Wed, Aug 25, 2021 at 12:48 PM Allan Olley <allan.olley at utoronto.ca>
wrote:

> Hello,
>         I don't think anyone has mentioned two early fictional works that
> might display some relevant ideas. The first one is the 1946 short story
> "A Logic Named Joe" which imagines something like a computer using
> networked repositories of information and responding to distant quiries,
> but I have no read the story and I am not sure if two or more machines
> ever collaborate beyond information storage and retrival. This story is
> rather celebrated and easily found in various places.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe
>         Slighlty later is the 1954 Year of Consent which imagines a 1990
> USA taken over by advertising executives with the help of powerful
> computers that institute a surveillance society with computers doing such
> things as facial recognition and administering lie detector enabled
> interrogations. At one point the protaganist needs to evade the facial
> recognition and relies on rather crude methods to do relying on the fact
> that facial recognition is first done by less powerful, more easily
> fooled, local computers and only when they fail are such jobs passed up to
> the giant brain in DC that can not be so easily stymied. This book was
> never republished and is somewhat obscure, but can be found at specialized
> libraries and I think is cheap as a used book.
>         Based on those fictional examples my sense would be the idea of
> networked computers was in the air even in the late 40s and early 50s.
>         A relevant World War II era technology that the US government
> commissioned were machines that could convert punched cards (used in IBM
> accounting machines) into teletype (used in telegraphy) and teletype into
> punched cards. I assume this was used to ease the collection and sending
> of data for inventory/logistical type calculations, although one can
> imagine other uses may have occured such as collecting weather information
> that might be used in caclualtion. Given this long history of sending
> machine readable information over wire (and presumably via wireless
> telegraphy/radio through the air) I think the idea of both remote
> operation of computers (ie using a teletype to control a computer some
> distance away) and even having multiple computers collaborate on a
> calculation effort/program etc. may have come very easily.
> https://www.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/vintage/vintage_4506VV4003.html
> --
> Yours Truly,
> Allan Olley, PhD
>
> http://individual.utoronto.ca/fofound/
>
> On Tue, 24 Aug 2021, Douglas Lucas wrote:
>
> >
> > Dear SIGCIS members,
> >
> > I'm a freelance writer/journalist who's published in multiple news
> outlets on hacktivism
> > and who's lurked on this email list for some time. The past several
> months, I've been
> > reading a great dealing about Alan Turing and the math behind Computable
> Numbers
> > (fundamental theorem of arithmetic, Gödel encoding, etc). A fairly
> straightforward question
> > occurred to me, one I hope this list can help answer:
> >
> > As is well known, Turing's 1936 paper Computable Numbers invented the
> concept of a
> > universal machine, which includes what today would be called an
> airgapped computer. For
> > quite a while, all computers (universal machines) were airgapped
> devices. The historical
> > casual chain is clear: first the idea documented in Computable Numbers
> came into existence,
> > and only later are physical computers actually built, initially as
> standalone, airgapped
> > devices.
> >
> > But how did plugging computers into one another with wires/cables begin?
> Did a thinker
> > first conceive of a profound idea underpinning wired/cabled networking,
> and then only
> > later, engineers implemented that concept in the physical realm? Or, did
> people first begin
> > hooking computers up to one another, perhaps experimentally, and then a
> theorist
> > subsequently created an idea to describe/frame what was happening (maybe
> a mathematical
> > graph theory or something)?
> >
> > To put it another way, in terms of a simple standardized test-like
> verbal analogy,
> > Computable Numbers is to airgapped computers as ??? is to wired/cabled
> networking of
> > computers.
> >
> > I omit wireless connections (e.g., Bluetooth) for the time being.
> >
> > Thanks much,
> >
> > Doug Lucas
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
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