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Cover Quote: June 1971

At this point I should like to digress from our meeting and say just a few words on my own. A dozen or so years ago, those of us who worked in this field had exactly two problems with which we could concern ourselves. The first was the problem of building machines and demonstrating that automatic computing machines as such were workable and useful devices. Secondly, having demonstrated that such hardware would indeed work, there came the task of programming the solution of problems on such machines, primarily problems in engineering, in physics, and in the mathematical sciences. For me, there is no question but that the use of information processing circuitry and of the techniques which were born in the telephone system and in computing machine practice, that the use of these techniques to solve an almost unending number of problems of a non-numerical character represents the most challenging problem which faces us at the present time. Thus, the problems of automatic translation of the automatic storage and retrieval of information, leading possibly to the mechanization of patent offices and a whole host of similar applications in business enterprises, represent the area in which the greatest progress will be made in the near future. I hope that the subjects that we shall consider at future meetings will include the problem of automatic control, the application of new ideas with greater emphasis on pattern recognition, and the science which underlies it all, namely switching theory from which we may hope that some generalized system will emerge.



- Howard H. Aiken
UNESCO Conference Information Processing, 1959
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