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Cover Quote: February 1983

But the computer, I think, is tremendously important. To say that it’s one of the most important inventions in mathematics or in the history of mathematics would be an understatement. It would be closer to the truth to say that the development of the electronic computer is one of the major events not just in scientific history but in world history. And it’s tempting to compare it with another event of more or less the same historic period: the release of atomic energy. I should be inclined to say with quite a bit of assurance that the historians of the future, if there are any, will agree with me that the computer is having and will have a bigger impact than atomic energy. I’m sure all will realize the significance of the “if.” There is a possibility that release of atomic energy will have a bigger impact, but in that case there will be no historians to discuss the matter. Barring that possibility, it seems pretty plain that the computer is having a deeper effect on us because it seems to penetrate everywhere at every level. It penetrates at the technological level, and it penetrates at the level of scientific activity. It penetrates social activity, political activity, the way people are thinking. It’s hard to think of any aspects of our lives that are not significantly influenced.



- Kenneth O. May
Historiography: A Perspective for Computer Scientists A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, 1980
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