Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

My Mother-In-Law the Computer

By Andrew Pollack on 10/16/2007 at 11:39 AM EDT

People have histories that you never really consider deeply enough. I had a really interesting conversation with my wife's mother over the weekend. She had asked about the route I'd planned to take, as I needed to go from her place on the coast up to Bangor where Coryn had a soccer game. I answered that I didn't know; I'd just plugged in the field's address on the GPS, and it told me I'd need about two hours to get there. I would do what it said and get there within a few minutes of that estimate.

Instead of the expected discussion, what I got in response was instead a story of some of the work she'd done back in the day -- I think just following WWII. She'd worked at MIT. The story details filled in over the course of a few minutes, but the gist of is that she'd worked directly for Dr. Charles Draper while he was working on his gyroscopic guidance systems. She remembered him as both brilliant and charming. "A man who could solve an equation on the blackboard, or tell a dirty joke." She recalled specifically listening with him and a few others in a room to the radio from a flight in which for the first time the pilot took off and landed blindfolded - I assume meaning instruments only - then all in the room popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne. Her job at the time was entering start chart data -- I didn't ask at the time what she entered it into, but I'm planning to ask more later. They used to call these pools of human number crunchers by the job title "Computer". That's what they did. The Computed.

So it turns out my Mother-In-Law, not the most tech-savvy person I've met to be sure, was actually a Computer.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: My Mother-In-Law the ComputerBy Mary Beth Raven on 10/16/2007 at 10:21 PM EDT
Wow, there must be something in the autumn air... you discdovering this about
your mother-in-law, me finding "v-mail"...

Other Recent Stories...

  1. 10/08/2018Will you be at the NYC Launch Event for HCL Domino v10 -- Find me!Come find me in NYC on Wednesday at the Launch Event if you're there. I really do want to talk to ...... 
  2. 09/04/2018With two big projects on hold, I suddenly find myself very available for new short and long term projects. In twenty five years, I don't think I've ever written an entry like this, but if you need the kind of work I do now would be a great time to get in touch. Both of the big projects I had lined up for late summer and early fall have been placed on hold and will be that way for a while. With the kids now all off at college and careers, I'm open to more travel than such than I have been in decades, but unless something else comes along, I'll be here working on updates to Second Signal and other things that ...... 
  3. 07/13/2018Who is HCL and why is it a good thing that they are now the ones behind Notes and Domino?We need to address some biases here. IBM has made a deal under which the Notes & Domino software and intellectual property is now being developed and maintained by HCL America. HCL America is part of the very large "HCL Technologies" company that has grown from its roots in India to become an 8 Billion Dollar company with a global presence in the IT Industry. You could be excused for initially believing, as many people do when they hear this, that "they've outsourced the code to India where they'll milk it ...... 
  4. 03/21/2018Domino Apps on IOS is a Game Changer. Quit holding back. 
  5. 02/15/2018Andrew’s Proposed Gun Laws 
  6. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? 
  7. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertising 
  8. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction 
  9. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  10. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
Click here for more articles.....

pen icon Comment Entry
Your Name
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
Your thoughts....
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.