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Cover Quote: December 1992

Back in the 1960s at MIT, there was a guy named Harvey Allen, a child of privilege for whom everything was just that easy, or at least that’s the way it looked to his fraternity brothers. Every Sunday morning, Harvey would wander down to the frat house dining room and do the New York Times crossword puzzle before breakfast—the whole puzzle, even to the point of knowing off the top of his head that Nunivak is the seven-letter name for an island in the Bering Sea off the southwestern coast of Alaska.

One of Harvey Allen’s frat brothers was Bob Metcalfe, who noticed this trick of doing crossword puzzles in the time it took the bacon to fry and was in awe. Metcalfe, no slouch himself, eventually received a Ph.D., invented the most popular way of linking computers together, started his own company, became a multimillionaire, put his money and name on two MIT professorships, moved into a 10,000-square-foot Bernard Maybeck mansion in California, and still can’t finish the New York Times crossword, which continues to be his definition of pure intelligence.



- Robert X. Cringely
Accidental Empires, 1992
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