A Logic Named Joe
by Murray Leinster

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Astounding Science Fiction, March 1946
as by Will F. Jenkins

collected in —
Sidewise in Time
First Contacts
A Logic Named Joe
March 2001

Science fiction & the personal computer

I've read several times that the personal computer is an idea that science fiction did not predict. Same with the World Wide Web. Even well-known science fiction writers have maintained these negative assertions in print.

I wasn't quite in agreement with this, but hadn't taken time to research otherwise. The other day, my friend Robert A. Cooper reminded me of a science fiction short-story from 1946, "A Logic Named Joe", which I then reread. Note that this story appeared in Astounding Science Fiction when computers were so rare they were individually-named projects at universities; and when television was still several years short of being found in more than a very few homes.

Here's how "A Logic Named Joe" breezily starts:

It was on the third day of August that Joe came off the assembly line, and on the fifth Laurine came into town, and that afternoon I saved civilization. That's what I figure anyhow. ...

Some of Leinster's ideas, seamlessly introduced into this smooth little story:

Desktop ideas:
  • Desktop computers in virtually all homes & businesses
  • Keyboards and vision screens
  • Local logic processing
  • Ordinary-language interface (not programming)
  • Interactive customizable software
Internet ideas:
  • Internet access from your desktop
  • Country-wide networked databases (including video) on all topics
  • Networked accounting software
  • Television shows on desktop computers
  • Real-time weather forecasts, stock quotes, etc.
  • Real-time Internet personal telephony and televideo
  • Private Internet addresses / phone numbers (coded or secret)
  • Auto-censorship of adult content for children
  • Auto-censorship of criminally-slanted queries
  • On-screen service help
  • Service-flash announcements upon individual log-in
  • Online access to network maintenance personnel
  • Central software upload & modify from desktop computers
  • Central software infect from desktop computers
  • Automatic customizing software
  • Coin-operated Internet access in restaurants
Integral fun

And all this personal computer, internet, and telecom technology simply is integral to "A Logic Named Joe". This is not a dull presentation, not a look-at-what's-coming essay disguised as fiction. "A Logic Named Joe" still is quite an enjoyable story!

Murray Leinster (real name Will F. Jenkins, 1896-1975) wrote for the slick magazines as well as over two million words of enjoyable science fiction; was a successful inventor and held a great many patents; and was a nice guy.


© 2001 Robert Wilfred Franson

Schmitz's ComWeb
early SF desktop computers & Internet

The Jenkins family's official site for
Murray Leinster / Will F. Jenkins

Steven Levy's
Insanely Great
The Life and Times of Macintosh,
the Computer That Changed Everything

This review is effectively
the inspirational item
for Troynovant.

ComWeb at Troynovant
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codes & ciphers, computing,
networks, robots, the Web


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