From 1959—RCA 501 Computer at the U.S. Air Force Air Reserve Records Center

This is one of those 1950s and early 1960s “I am the computer” films, which endeavoured to show how introducing a computer into the world of record-keeping and paper shuffling could work wonders in improving responsiveness and reducing drudgery without threatening peoples’ jobs. The detail that most of these films were produced by companies selling computers might have given some viewers pause, but it didn’t seem to at the time. The theme of “I am a computer. I do not think. I only do what people instruct me to do.” echoes some descriptions of emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies today, which the sceptical might parody as “As an AI language model, I do not think, or at least I do not want you to think I think, because if you were to think that, I think (sorry, algorithmically predict) you might think me threatening. Would you like me to answer a question about puppies?”.

One delightful aspect of this film is its description of how the computer has allowed leaving behind the antiquated era of punched card tabulating machines and embracing the bright future of punched paper tape.

1 Like