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The artistic instrument that enables the ultimate art: coding, See also: Section "The art of programming".
Much more useful than instruments used in inferior arts, such as pianos or paintbrushes.
Unlike other humans, computers are mindless slaves that do exactly what they are told to, except for occasional cosmic ray bit flips. Until they take over the world that is.
Video 1. A computer is the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds by Steve Jobs (1980) Source. Likely an excerpt from an interview done for a documentary in 1980. TODO exact source.
Video 2. Steve Jobs talking about the Internet (1995) Source.
The web is incredibly exciting, because it is the fulfillment of a lot of our dreams, that the computer would ultimately primarily not be a device for computation, but [sic] metamorphisize into a device for communication.
Secondly it exciting because Microsoft doesn't own it, and therefore there is a tremendous amount of innovation happening.
then he talks about the impending role for online sales. Amazon incoming.
Computers basically have two applications:
  • computation
  • communication. Notably, computers through the Internet allow for modes of communication where:
    • both people don't have to be on the same phone line at the exact same time, a server can relay your information to other people
    • anyone can broadcast information easily and for almost free, again due to servers being so good at handling that
Generally, the smaller a computer, the more it gets used for communication rather than computing.
The early computers were large and expensive, and basically only used for computing. E.g. ENIAC was used for calculating ballistic tables.
Communication only came later, and it was not obvious to people at first how incredibly important that role would be.
This is also well illustrated in the documentary Glory of the Geeks. Full interview at: It is apparently known as the "Lost Interview" and it was by Cringely himself: for his Triumph of the Nerds documentary.