George Dyson and John Von Neumann

This talk just rocked. This guy works in the office where Von Neumann used to work (I’m a little fuzzy on the details) on the MANIAC computer. He discovered boxes of notes from that era, and shared then with us. I can’t begin to tell you all about it, but his slides will be on the web RSN. These folks made decisions, out of several options, and we’re still doing everything the way that they decided was the right way. These documents included a substantial number of “let there be light” proclamations, and a great deal of source code for these initial machines.

What is sad, however, is that most of this work was for the purpose of building a bomb, and that Von Neumann died at a very young age of bone cancer from having worked on the bomb.

It’s important to note, however, that Von Neumann did not think of things in these terms, saying something like, “No, I’m not thinking about anything as unimportant as a bomb, I’m thinking of important things. I’m thinking about computers.”

I’ll link to the slides as soon as they become available.