A Trillion a Second, but ...

Oh, dear, they've just developed a computer capable of 1 trillion operations a second, and now statistics show computers may not have done all that much to raise American productivity. But 1 trillion calculations, according to the Department of Energy, would take everyone in America 125 years working 24 hours a day, and not on their fingers but with hand-held calculators. Isn't there a productivity gain in there somewhere?

Whatever the inconclusive statistics, what's important is that corporations are convinced that computers are helping them, according to economists cited in The New York Times.

Certainly we are convinced when a tap on the keyboard or click on the mouse shortens a headline on the screen before our eyes or changes a comma into a period at the last minute. We used to have to ask Denny in the composing room to carve the tail off a comma by hand in days when the type existed on the edge of a metal slug. How many visiting children never forgot the feeling of a slug with their name on it warm from the Linotype clacking like a locomotive!

Back then a new headline would require complete resetting, perhaps in the special Ludlow machine. The other day a printer of elegant craftsmanship said he looked forward to buying a Ludlow that had once belonged to us. He'd heard the Monitor always obtained the best equipment and maintained it to perfection

We'd love to think so. Anyhow, whatever the statistics, we imagine our precomputer predecessors were also convinced that their equipment improved productivity.

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