The computer disease17 Aug 2011
Excerpt from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! :
Well, Mr.Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is you play with them. They are so wonderful. You have these switches--if it's an even number you do this, if it's an odd number you do that--and pretty soon you can do more and more elaborate things if you are clever enough, on one machine.
After a while the whole system broke down. Frankel wasn't paying any attention; he wasn't supervising anybody. The system was going very, very slowly--while he was sitting in a room figuring out how to make one tabulator automatically print arc-tangent X, and then it would start and it would print columns and then bitsi, bitsi, bitsi, and calculate the arc-tangent automatically by integrating as it went along and make a whole table in one operation. Absolutely useless. We had tables of arc-tangents. But if you've ever worked with computers, you understand the disease--the delight in being able to see how much you can do. But he got the disease for the first time, the poor fellow who invented the thing.