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Cover Quote: December 1980

Writing about computer development some 30 years ago at the Institute for Advanced Study [Princeton University] is a bit like returning to the scene of an early love affair. It revives deep feelings of involvement still for me, and I am sure also for all who took part. A long chain of improbable chance events led to our involvement; people ordinarily of modest aspirations, we all worked so hard and selflessly because we believed—we knew—it was happening here and at a few other places right then, and we were lucky to be in on it. We were sure because von Neumann cleared the cobwebs from our minds as nobody else could have done. A tidal wave of computational power was about to break and innundate everything in science and much elsewhere, and things would never be the same afterward. It would cleanse and solve areas of obscurity and debate that had piled up for decades. Those who really understood what they were trying to do would be able to express their ideas as coded instructions, calculate with powerful machines, and find answers and demonstrate explicitly by numerical experiments. The process would advance and solidify knowledge and tend to keep men honest.



- Julian Bigelow
Computer Development at the Institute for Advanced Study, 1980
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