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
mail & communications,
codes & ciphers, computing,
networks, robots, the Web
  


 

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