Machine Tells All

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CSIRO Problem In Computer Network




The Adelaide Advertiser, 1 October, 1949      


Technically, it is called a "rapid selector". It is claimed it will be of tremendous value in scientific research work.

Here is how it operates: the raw material to be fed into the machine - books, filing cards, sheets of miscellaneous information - is microfilmed with a picture for each page. A code consisting of tiny blocks of black and white squares is placed on the page for each type of Information that is to be "remembered".

More than one code pattern can be placed on each page, depending on many subjects are to be handled. The machine has enough code patterns to cover 1,000,000 different subjects.

The brain then reads the information at the rate of about 1,200 pages a day. It can store away in its mechanical memo about 500.000 pages on each 2.000-ft reel of film

When any of this information is wanted, the proper master code pattern key is pushed into the mechanism and a switch is pulled. The stored up film races past one of the "brain's" photo-electric eyes at the rate of more than 60,000 pages a minute.

When a page with the correct pattern to fit the master code flashes past, a high-speed camera takes a picture of it. In another three or four minutes, the negatives are developed, and every single scrap of information that has been fed into the machine on that subject is available

As an example, the machine could be used to keep army personnel records The army might suddenly find it wanted a man between the ages of 25 and 35 who was an expert In cryptography and radar and who could speak French and German fluently.

The "brain" wouldn't say, "What is a man like that doing in the army?

Instead it would search through the records of 1,000.000 men in about eight minutes and hand out a photographed copy of all men with the necessary qualifications

And there no patent on this machine. Anyone is entitled to make one - if he can figure out how it is done!