The Computer Society: Time Magazine Gets a PDP-11 (Feb, 1978)

Here are some articles from a 1979 Time magazine special issue focusing on computers called “The Computer Society”

The Age of Miracle Chips
– Explores possible the possible effect of computers upon society including possible economic and social upheaval.
Science: The Numbers Game – Covers the history of computers as well as the science and technology behind designing and producing them.
Business: Thinking Small - Discusses the computer industry, markets and the potential effects of computers the upon business world.
Living: Pushbutton Power – Explores computer uses in the home, school and hospital.
Time Magazine Gets a PDP-11 – Short piece by the editor of Time about the features of their new PDP-11 including it’s spell-checker, hyphenator, fonts and graphics capability.

A Letter from the Publisher

This week Time welcomes its newest staff member: PDP-11/34. Programmed according to Time’s design, PDP-11 /34 will speed the handling of the hundreds of queries and reports that flow between the home office in New York City and our 28 bureaus, scattered around the world.

PDP etc. could hardly have arrived at a more propitious moment, for in this issue Time presents a special 15-page section entitled “The Computer Society.” The report explains just’ how the world of electronic sorcery works, and examines its impact on our daily lives. To make such a complicated technical phenomenon understandable, a team of six correspondents, five writers, four reporter-researchers and three photographers spent a month interviewing scientists, visiting manufacturing plants and trying out the newest and most exciting computerized products.

“Computers are already in our homes and offices. They help us figure our income taxes and play games with us,” says Senior Editor Leon Jaroff, who directed the project. ‘The computer age has arrived.” Indeed, computers are now as much a part of Time as typewriters. Jaroff, who holds degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics from the University of Michigan, edited the stories on a video display terminal, part of our elaborate copy processing system. In 1967, Time was one of the first magazines to set copy with a computer. Today our improved system also handles the other Time Inc. publications (Fortune, Money, People, Sports Illustrated), cutting processing time by 75% or more compared to older methods.

Not only is Time Inc.’s computer nimble, it is enterprising. Using an electronic “dictionary,” which it scans in a fraction of a second, the system can figure out how to break almost any word up to and including the 14-syllable supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. It can set type in any one of Time Inc.’s own 127 fonts, tailor-fit copy to a layout, and draw in boxes and assorted lines. Finally, at the rate of a page every 15 seconds, the system can whisk the whole magazine to our printers in Chicago via telephone wires. Time will soon acquire yet another computerized device—a Videocomp machine that will enable our editorial staff in New York to see almost exactly how every page will look in the magazine before it is sent off to the printers.

But for all their ingenuity, Time’s electronic machines still lack the human touch—the skills of writing, editing and analyzing that are really responsible for this week’s look at the Computer Society.

4 comments
  1. [...] business world. Living: Pushbutton Power – Explores computer uses in the home, school and hospital. Time Magazine Gets a PDP-11 – Short piece by the editor of Time about the features of their new PDP-11 including it’s [...]

  2. Blurgle says: May 9, 20076:41 am

    It had a 4K memory.

    That’s less than my crockpot and, if I’m not mistaken, one-sixth of that of my bread machine.

  3. View from the Edge says: May 10, 200711:02 pm

    Microcircuits and the future…

    Its been awhile since I’ve posted about anything from Modern Mechanix, but recently he posted an interesting article from Time Magazine about “The Computer Society.” Published in 1978, the special section contained several articles ab…

  4. Casandro says: May 25, 20075:08 am

    It’s amazing that although general public magazines like Time already typesetted with a computer while hacker magazines still were printed on matrix printers, then cut out and copied till the late 90s.

Submit comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.