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Old 07-18-2010, 04:09 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by curtw View Post
According to this reference, the first science fiction writer to posit an electronic book was Stanislaw Lem, in Return From the Stars, in 1961. Just five years (and a fantastic paradigm shift) from your Heinlein book.
and 22 years after the first publication of a description of this device, the Memex:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memex

It was published in 1939 and later in a slightly expanded article "As We May Think", in the mass market magazine Atlantic Monthly in 1945:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_We_May_Think

The memex and electronic searchable hypertext linked encyclopedias and books are really the invention of this man, Vannevar Bush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vannevar_Bush
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:40 AM   #62
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As a matter of interest, most experts say that the first description of something resembling the Internet in Science Fiction was in a 1946 story "A Logic Name Joe" by Murray Leinster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe
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Old 07-19-2010, 10:47 AM   #63
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for every one interested ( rofl most of us ? )

check out this site, it lists SciFi "firsts":

http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/ctnlistPubDate.asp

Called: Timeline of Science Fiction Inventions

its sorted by date etc
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Old 07-19-2010, 11:39 AM   #64
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askyn --- neat site, but I think it could stand some peer review --- describing a miniaturized tailor's manequin clothing display as a PDA is a bit of a stretch.
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Old 07-19-2010, 01:02 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by nyrath View Post
As a matter of interest, most experts say that the first description of something resembling the Internet in Science Fiction was in a 1946 story "A Logic Name Joe" by Murray Leinster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe
I'm not sure who "most experts" are, but E. M. Forster beat that by 37 years:

The Machine Stops

True, the technical details of the Machine are never truly specified, but it's got streaming music, chat, people who IM you at annoying times, and the Internet echo chamber effect in all its glory. Whether or not Forster foresaw exactly how his Machine would work, he was disturbingly prescient about Internet culture.
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Old 07-19-2010, 03:20 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Worldwalker View Post
I'm not sure who "most experts" are, but E. M. Forster beat that by 37 years:

The Machine Stops

True, the technical details of the Machine are never truly specified, but it's got streaming music, chat, people who IM you at annoying times, and the Internet echo chamber effect in all its glory. Whether or not Forster foresaw exactly how his Machine would work, he was disturbingly prescient about Internet culture.
Debatable. What Forster described was more a glorified telephone system.

In A Logic Named Joe there were a distributed set of central information repositories analogous to servers on the World Wide Web. Which is what DARPANET originally was.
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Old 07-19-2010, 03:59 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by WillAdams View Post
askyn --- neat site, but I think it could stand some peer review --- describing a miniaturized tailor's manequin clothing display as a PDA is a bit of a stretch.
ROFl yeah I agree, I just browse it off and on and look for interesting stuff etc
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:07 PM   #68
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In the beginning of the story, after Vashti talks to her son, she responds to a backlog of incoming messages from friends. This is an unusual condition, caused by her being in a private chat with her son, and the flood does not continue after she answers them all. That implies, at least to me, some form of storage system that's holding the messages until she responds. So we have some kind of server there on at least a primitive level. Forster didn't go into the nuts and bolts of his Machine (remember, this was written only a few years after the invention of the triode vacuum tube) but it seems clear to me that some of its functions would require something like a server, and in all probability it has many other features which do not appear in the story.

What Forster nailed so squarely, though, at least in my mind, was aspects of online culture: the echo chamber effect, the decline of interest in personal experience compared to vicarious experience, the shortened attention span (the 10-minute lecture, for instance) and the emphasis on a wide, shallow group of online friends rather than a narrow, deep group of offline friends.
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Old 07-19-2010, 11:56 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by sabredog View Post
I well remember Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein where the ships astrogators had to be mathematical geniuses, using logarithmic tables to calculate hyperspace jumps. They even used slide rules before card inputting to the ships computer.

Well I remember using log tables at school and later professionally! Slide rules...nope....

It is a good book though!
I learned how to use a slide rule when I was about 9 years old, and a few years later the first decent electronic calculators came out. I was a little bummed out because my slide rule skills were useless, but you could do a lot of cool things with calculators, much easier.....
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:24 AM   #70
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ThinkGeek sells a nice starter slide rule, if you need to brush up your skills.
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:45 PM   #71
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We had lessons in high school about using slide rules but that was just as hand held calculators were making an appearance so it was never put to any practical use even though the calculators were pretty expensive at that time. I think one guy in the pre-calculus class had one, but was allowed to use it on tests.
I was learning to use a slide rule at the same time I was taught how to do square roots manually. It was too easy to pull out the slip stick and get the result to three places, so I never did properly learn that manual method.

A former co-worker once got out of a graduate finance exam because his pocket calculator died. He probably could have done the calculations manually, but not in the time alloted for the exam.
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:53 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by nyrath View Post
As a matter of interest, most experts say that the first description of something resembling the Internet in Science Fiction was in a 1946 story "A Logic Name Joe" by Murray Leinster.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Logic_Named_Joe
Available as part of a Baen Free Library collection:
http://www.webscription.net/p-253-a-...named-joe.aspx
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Old 07-20-2010, 01:07 PM   #73
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I have been told by older science fiction fans that scifi is a derogatory term, but I have never ran into it used as such in over three decades. I just use it because it flows better. SF is hard to say, and just sounds unnatural. Science fiction is just too long. Scifi is short and rolls off of the tongue. It is just the term that me and my friends have always used.
SciFi was coined by the late Forrest J. Ackerman (author, editor, agent, and possessor when alive of the world's largest SF/Fantasy collection) as a contraction of Hugo Gernsback's "Scientifiction", which he used to describe what he published in Amazing Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. SF had been published in the pulps before Hugo came along. He gave the genre a name and devoted magazines to it.

SF fans have long had mixed feelings about "SciFi". Back when, the genre was looked down upon and you were fussy about who you told you read it. It was a derogatory term. It was not helped by the lurid covers of older SF magazines featuring scantily clad heroines menaced by slavering aliens. SciFi tended to connote everything people who didn't read it looked down on, and SF fans preferred to just call it SF.

I tell people " I watch SciFi. I read SF."

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As for social commentary. Many of Robert A. Heinlein's books are chock full of social commentary. Friday is perhaps one of my favorites in this regard. I still wonder how long it is going to be before a government enacts his California law, where it was determined that people with college degrees receive preferential treatment in the job market so the government decide to just give everyone a degree to make it fair.
We are approaching that now without government encouragement. And I've encountered college graduates who would have flunked out of high school back when with the knowledge and skill sets they demonstrate.
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:01 AM   #74
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ThinkGeek sells a nice starter slide rule, if you need to brush up your skills.
I remember having one when I first went to school but it was replaced almost instantly by one of those new fangled calculators. I was quietly picturing the look of wonder on my kids faces as I showed them how to multiply and divide on a ruler when I was brought back with a bump as they tried to charge me $28 to ship it to the UK! Oh well.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:24 AM   #75
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Recently, there was an article in Scientific American, I believe which included a slide rule which one could cut out and assemble.

Or print your own here:

http://www.sphere.bc.ca/test/build.html

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