Sunday, January 21, 2024

A paper that every Undergraduate should read

 The paper As we may think


Vannevar Bush 

appeared in

The Atlantic Monthly, in July 1945.

 I first read it since it was one of the papers in Ideas that Created the Future: Classic Papers in Computer Science which I reviewed  here.

The link to the paper is  here.

This paper predicts so much about the future that it should be  read by every undergraduate. Not every Undergraduate computer science major, but every undergraduate.  I am teaching Honors Discrete Math (Freshman and Sophomores) and Automata Theory (Juniors and Seniors) and on hw00 they are required to read the paper and write about two advances that were predicted.

I now ask my readers to do the same: Read it and

a) Leave comments about what was predicted that came true.

b) Leave comments about what was predicted that did not come true. 

c) Leave comments on anything related to the paper that you want to.



  1. Hypertext (his Memex) [maybe gopher or the web too with that one]

    Digital Cameras and looking at the photos on screens (his dry photography)

  2. I stumbled upon your site and read the Bush article. Ok. I am in my 90s, and yes things predicted in the past sometimes do come true and sometimes not. Predicting is similar to polling for elections ...sometimes right and sometimes wrong. Does it make any difference? NO. But it is grist for the content spewers on tv and in media.
    Dick Tracy indicated a watch one could use as a phone. He was right. Did he own stock in Apple? Did he change our lives? nope. Like science fiction: guess work that is often close to what will be and sometimes amusing and often scary.
    In sum: that sort of prediction is s bit like a time capsule: interesting when you dig it up and read it but at best amusing since it had changed nothing.

    1. To claim these visionary writings of Vannevar Bush made no difference is ignorance.