I only know one person who was able to write a program in ink and have it run the first time. That was Dick Bloch. He drove nearly all of us crazy because he could do that. Since the Mark I was a relay and step counter machine, it was not too difficult to change the circuits. Every once in a while, Dick would get the idea of a new circuit that would make his problem run faster. He’d get together with one of the operators during the night and they would fix the circuit. The next morning my programs wouldn’t run. It’s much better to have machines that the programmers cannot alter.
Commander Aiken was a tough taskmaster. I was sitting at my desk one day, and he said, You’re going to write a book. I said, I can’t write a book. He said, You’re in the Navy now. And so I wrote a book. I have it here with me. This is the Mark I manual.
Howard Aiken always said that one day we would have computers that would fit in a shoe box. I don’t t know how he knew that, but he did.
You don’t manage people; you manage things. You lead people.
Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, “We’ve always done it that way.” I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counterclockwise.
You manage things; you lead people.
We’re flooding people with information. We need to feed it through a processor. A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We’ve tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.
You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.
The most damaging phrase in the language is: it’s always been done that way.
Life was simple before World War II. After that, we had systems.
Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew.
It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Maria Mitchell American Astronomer
- Hyman G. Rickover American Admiral
- Bill Gates American Businessperson
- John Cage American Composer
- Jane Fonda American Actress
- Thomas Edison American Inventor
- Alexander Hamilton American Statesman
- Harold Bloom American Literary Critic, Author
- Bill Joy American Computer Engineer
- Constance Rourke American Historian