When did people first start blaming computers for mistakes?
It is probably much earlier than what you thought. I ran across a sentence in a book today that felt very much out of place and time.
“Well, sir,” George Fay laughingly replied, “I suppose it’s possible the computers might have made a mistake?”
This sentence come from a historical novel that was written in 1933, but was set in the 1850’s.
John, Mr. Pinckney and George Fay are talking about the the wind and current charts developed by Matthew Fontaine Maury that drastically shorted voyages of merchant vessels. They find it hard to believe that millions of dollars were being saved annually and George Fay says that “it’s possible the computers might have made a mistake!”
In 1933 as well as the 1850’s the definition of computers was based on people who made calculations or computations. The word was first used with this definition in 1631.
It just really seemed out of place to see computers being blamed for something in the 1850’s.
The novel is set in the 1850’s during the glory years of the clipper ship and also the lead up to the Civil War. The book was full of history of advancements in sailing and also had a subplot about the slave trade, the underground railroad and the Fugitive Slave Act.
I really enjoyed reading this novel as part of my Newbery Challenge.
There are two more historical fiction novels by Agnes Danforth Hewes that were Newbery Honor books and I am looking forward to reading both of them.
The have interesting titles: Spice and the Devil’s Cave and The Codfish Musket
I also need to do some more reading about Matthew Fontaine Maury.
As is usually the case, here is another book that sends my mind wandering in different directions.