Friday, January 27, 2017

X-Minus One - A Logic named Joe - My Thoughts.

X-Minus One A Logic Named Joe!

Original a revival of Dimension X, X-Minus was a NBC Radio Drama series, in the early 1950s.
Think Twilight Zone (or The Outer Limits), with no pictures (and arguable worse ideas for episodes).
Actually, if you have been around Sci-Fi at all even if you don't know X-Minus you probably know the stories, many of them were adapted for Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and yes even Star Trek re-told some of these stories.  So arguable X-Minus was bad, most of the stories were complete fiction, and really didn't even have any basis in logic or science.
But it was the best kind of bad, with some of todays best Sci-Fi authors being featured,
Issac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Philip K. Dick, just to name a few.

For a little more about X-Minus one -

A Logic Named Joe original did appear (or I should say was heard) on Dimension X. July 1, 1950 It was reaired under the X-Minus One title on December 28, 1955. And was made by Murray Leinster (Dimension X/X-Minus One adaptation by Claris A. Ross)

This is one of my favorite episodes from the serial, why? Because in 1950/1955 it describes some many things that we have now, thou you might have to warp your brain a little to see it.

A few things to remember (or realize): One of the first digital computers was Colossus in 1943, And the ENIAC was completed in 1946. There were programmable computers before this, The Turing Machine proposed in 1936, and the Z1 in 1936/1938.  The first computer to store a program was in 1949. And the first commercial computer (computer for sale) was the Z4 in 1950. Of course the word computer and computing devices date as far back as the 1600s, but let's stick with a little more modern use of the word. The first computer with RAM was a Whirlwind Machine in 1955.

So why is this history important? Well, you have to remember that at the time "A Logic named Joe" was written, computers were still very new, 12 years old or less, and computers that could store and retrieve the stored information were even newer (or had not yet been made).
Also remember that normal computer terms were not in the every day vocabulary. Also, remember that computers of this era were the size of buildings, the first small computers were in the early 70s or late 60s - and even then I wouldn't call them portable, just smaller than a room.

It's important to remember these things when you hear the story.

So, listen to the story above, and come back to hear some of my thoughts on what is possibly the best Dimension X/X-Minus One story told.

More Information:

My thoughts: (All opinion are my own, this is my take on the episode, yours may be different.)

1. A Logic is of course a small desktop style computer, it must be big enough thou requiring a couple of people to carry it, and needing a small truck to move it. But at a time when computers were the size of a building (or at very least a room), it speaks to a time when computers could be "easily" moved.
2. A Logic is in nearly every home. And there are PUBLIC Logic terminals. In today's world, nearly everyone has at least one computer, and libraries have computers for PUBLIC use.  PUBLIC wifi can be found at most business locations, and restaurants. In effect creating a PUBLIC network for computing devices.  So in 1950, the author predicts computers in every home. And the use of PUBLIC terminals. And although or computing devices are quite a bit different (namely in size and shape), we do have PUBLIC access/usage and nearly everyone has at least one computer.
3. A Logic can communicate with other Logics, with a Set of Central Information Repositories.  Today, we have a Global network of computers that communicate with other computers. Without knowing what to call it, and years before ARPAnet (1973) came online - The author was describing the GLOBAL INTERNET. (Just in case you don't know ARPAnet eventually became the Internet we know now, that was early 1990s). There are Central Information Repositories now, in the form of various types of servers, and databases.
4. A Logic looks like a TV with it's knobs replaced with a keys, and a VOICE interface. The logic is even described as being able to replace your TV for entertainment, and used to place video phone calls.  In todays world, it's nothing to get on youtube, netflix, or hulu and watch countless hours of TV for entertainment. Skype, Hangouts, Google Voice, VoIP can all be used to place phone calls, some even video calls. We have Siri, Google Now/Assistant, Amazon Echo, Microsoft Cortanta, all VOICE interfaces. In 1950 a voice interface would have been very hard to do, thou I am sure people studying the computer field wanted it.
5. A Logic uses SPEECH to convey information. By this point you probably see where I'm going here. In fact computer Speech didn't really happen until 1961, even then it wasn't great speech.

Of course today, we have text to speech and speech to text, even speech to speech interfaces, information is effortlessly conveyed using speech.
6. A Logic can rapidly find and correlate information based on your request. Again, I've already touched on this a little, but the most obvious thing to think of is "Google Search". Google is very good at rapidly finding and correlating information based on your search terms. This is all done using various Google services, servers and databases, and all happens in milliseconds.

7. While we aren't quite to this point yet, A logic can put together information in such a way that no-one else has thought of, coming up with new formulas for getting rid of liqueur in your blood, or creative ways to rob your bank, or kill your boss. We do have Artificial Intelligent machines now, that have come up with new ways to think about something, because of how they correlate information. (IBMs Watson a very impressive A.I.)

The author must have either had a very creative mind, or a very logical one to see the direction computers were going as early as it was.

In conclusion, "A Logic Named Joe" holds up very well in today's world, and is one of my favorite episodes of X-Minus One. This is one work that should be updated for a modern audience. (Hint Hint, creative types out there, you know who you are.)

Please feel free to leave your thoughts on this great episode.

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