On this day in 1958, several experts in "computers" gave a speech at the University of Texas about how this new technology will revolutionize our lives.
It's a fascinating glimpse into how we viewed computers before they became a routine part of our daily lives. Some of the predictions from Dr. Ascher Opler of Dow Chemical Company turned out to be true.
He predicted that computers will be used for important matters such as missile control, air traffic congestion and translating of foreign language papers.
While technically true, most people would agree computers haven't truly "solved" any of those problems. We still need human intervention for accurate foreign language translation, for instance, and there's still plenty of collateral civilian damage in warfare, no matter how computerized those functions are.
Eugene M. Grabbe, another computer expert, focused on how they will enhance "automation" in industry but will not reduce manpower demand and in fact will likely increase it.
Nearly 60 years later I think we can definitely say that isn't entirely true. Scores of American jobs have been cut directly due to technological advancements that made their jobs redundant.
But Grabbe really nailed it when he talked about how computers will influence industries such as petroleum, saying they already were being used to help engineers simulate plant behavior, "one step removed" from actually operating the plant.
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