The Social Computer (1975 Faraday lecture)

Lots of historical notes to be gleaned from this talk, including some futurology in the final section:

There are some filmed sections - including an Apollo 13 section - and a human enactment of the working of a computer. With a mirror! And some charming illustrations.

We note that computers are already important in hospital patient management, air traffic control, flight reservation, the allocation of university places according to student preferences, environmental monitoring (and industrial control), supertanker navigation and processing census returns.

And there’s a reminder that “the population of this planet is expected to double by the year 2000”, so we already see computers in agriculture.

…on the screen you can see a typical COBOL program and as you can see it is typical English language statements a computer might have 500 COBOL programs inside it at one point in time and each COBOL program may have 1,000 statements so in effect a normal general-purpose computer would have 500,000 instructions inside it at one point in time and will be able to work on all those problems simultaneously

From the futurology, Desmond Pitcher concentrates on the idea of the telecomputer: a computer not present in the home, but accessible through the television.

indeed whole encyclopedias can be stored inside the computer and referred to by the children when they wish to do so if the weather is inclement so to speak and the children can’t play outside the home then they can play games on the teledata system with the computer the scope seems unlimited for this teledata