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What I wanted to do was to weave an exceedingly rich and complex fabric, with a warp of computer history but a filling, a woof, of wives and friends and travels. Think of my magnificently complicated life as a huge multi-dimensional data bank.

The Old Man really did order the support columns removed from the SSEC room.I wanted to go on; I had toured Europe in the early Sixties, and had other stories from those days that historians and veterans would want to hear.But as I began again, a family tragedy intervened, and I set the work aside.Slice it along the time axis and you have histories: big computers, software, the evolution of standards.Slice it another way and you have applications: science, or banking, or air defense; another, and you have organizations.Perhaps I could do for the computer trade what Casanova did for Venetian diplomacy? Or I could do a history: a history of the computer times I had lived through.

I had mountains of books and papers and clippings to help me crosscheck against the increasingly divergent recollections of others, and could certainly make a useful contribution to the unfolding story of that intelligence amplifier everybody now calls the computer.But I had to admit the idea was pretty far-fetched. Kurt Vonnegut did his satire on automation so well; I had gone to GE's Association Island [1955] and had sat under the elm that was transformed into a ruined oak at the end of his yarn.As Schenectady became Ilion, so could Endicott become, say, Watsonville, and the shoe workers could parade past the IBM factory shouting "While you're thinking, we're drinking! But the themes would have to be spare, or the satire would be blunted.When I returned to the United States I brought with me the remains of my huge original archive: my 1962 call reports to Control Data, my flight logs, my appointment (and hotel/restaurant) lists, some of my expense account carbons.Cautiously I began to reconstruct what had happened to me and to the burgeoning world of computers from mid-1959 on. Then I was awarded a National Science Foundation grant.It was to me as an individual investigator (unusual), and it permitted me to move from New Mexico to Washington, where I had the resources of the Library of Congress and of the Smithsonian within walking distance.