The Enginethe engineering family, the engine
The Engine is a fictional device described in Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift in 1726 It is possibly the earliest known reference to a device in any way resembling a modern computer It is a device that generates permutations of word sets It is found at the Academy of Projectors in Lagado and is described thus by Swift:
“ Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others They were all linked together by slender wires These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down"
Stanisław Lem in Summa Technologiae 1964 and McCorduck 2004 connect the machine with the Ars Magna of Ramon Llull 1275, a mechanical device for combining ideas to create new ones
- ^ Eric A Weiss 1985 "Jonathan Swift's Computing Invention" IEEE Retrieved 2010-01-26 In 1726 Jonathan Swift published a description of a wonderful machine, made of equal parts of
- ^ Swift, Jonathan 1726 Gulliver's Travels p Part 3, Chapter 5 Retrieved 25 March 2016
- ^ Lem, Stanisław 2013 Summa technologiae 1964 Translated by Joanna Zylinska Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press p 359 Conclusion ISBN 9780816675760
- ^ McCorduck, Pamela 2004, Machines Who Think 2nd ed, Natick, MA:A K Peters, Ltd, ISBN 1-56881-205-1 , p 317
- "Knowledge Engine – The first reference to a machine that could create sentences or write books" Technovelgycom
- "Gulliver's Engine" Computer History Museum Retrieved 25 March 2016
- Infinite monkey theorem
See also:Logic machines in fiction and List of fictional computers
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