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Negroponte's "The Architecture Machine" is Published


In his book, The Architecture Machine, published in 1970 architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte of MIT described early research on computer-aided design, and in so doing covered early work on human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, and computer graphics. The book contained a large number of illustrations.

"Most of the machines that I will be discussing do not exist at this time. The chapters are primarily extrapolations into the future derived from experiences with various computer-aided design systems. . . .

"There are three possible ways in which machines can assist the design process: (1) current procedures can be automated, thus speeding up and reducing the cost of existing practices; (2) existing methods can be altered to fit within the specifications and constitution of a machine, where only those issues are considered that are supposedly machine-compatible; (3) the design process, considered as evolutionary, can be presented to a machine, also considered as evolutionary, and a mutal training, resilience, and growth can be developed" (From Negroponte's "Preface to a Preface," p. [6]).

Negroponte's book has been called the first book on the personal computer. On that I do not agree. The book contains only vague discussions of the possiblity of eventual personal computers. Most specifically it says, as caption to its second illustration, a cartoon relating to a home computer, "The computer at home is not a fanciful concept. As the cost of computation lowers, the computer utility will become a consumer item, and every child should have one." Instead The Architecture Machine may be the first book on human-computer interaction, and on the possibilities of computer-aided design.

(This entry was last revised on 04-20-2014.)

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