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Old December 16 2012, 02:58 AM   #43
Greg Cox
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Location: Oxford, PA
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Christopher wrote: View Post
You see the same shortsightedness about progress in a lot of science fiction. Read SF novels and stories from the '40s or '50s and you'll see the writers assuming that people thousands of years in the future will still use punch cards or wire recorders or microfilm, or that computers would always be vast, room-sized agglomerations of vacuum tubes. Aside from Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe," which kind of predicted the Internet, most SF writers assumed that an entire country or planet would have a single, gigantic central computer that would act as an oracle granting answers to questions put into it, usually in punch card or magnetic tape form. They were generally as bad at predicting the advance of computer hardware as they were at predicting the advance of gender equality.
True story: Several years I edited a collection of classic 1950s sf stories by Pauline Ashwell. With Pauline's permission, we updated some of the more dated stuff regarding both computer hardware AND gender equality!

At one point, in the one of the original stories, a computer fell over--and crushed two people! I can't remember how we fixed that, but we did.

(I also changed bits of casual sexism like "the senators and their wives" to "the senators and their spouses" and so on.)

Getting back OT, it can be a challenge sometimes to strike the right balance between what saw on TOS and our modern sense of how a sophisticated Starfleet computer system ought to work. Why exactly is that yeoman stumbling across the bridge in the middle of a space battle just to transfer a microtape from one station to another?
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