An Apology for Alan Turing

Ryan Tate · 08/17/09 12:32PM

Acclaimed mathematician Alan Turing provided a blueprint for the modern computer and helped break German codes during World War II. As a reward, the British government chemically castrated him to "cure" his homosexuality, driving Turing to suicide. Regrettable? Not officially.

The Internet according to "Vanity Fair" — the 100-word version

Jackson West · 06/04/08 01:40PM

In a nine-chapter opus, Vanity Fair clean-up hitter Keenan "Coverline" Mayo and Peter Newcomb pitch the inevitable book deal for an oral history of the Internet. In it are all sorts of unchallenged assertions by various leading lights, from early stories of the Arpanet to Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams complaining about getting friend invites from "Pounce" when he's not taking undue credit for building the first social network. (Six Degrees, anyone?) But what stood out to me were two anecdotes that illustrate the plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose nature of business in America. Namely, the cycle of monopolies which the Internet has done little to stop and will probably spin Google's way next. After the jump, 100 words that changed the world — without the pleasantly distracting Angelina Jolie pop-up ads spewed by the Vanity Fair website.

Interview with Konrad Zuse, inventor of first functional computer

Jackson West · 06/03/08 06:20PM

"You could say I was too lazy to calculate, so I invented the computer." The whole documentary is a lot of fun to watch — famed British thespian David Jacobi even makes an appearance in a dramatization as the legendary Alan Turing. Zuse and Turing were on opposite sides of World War II, with Zuse's machine mostly used to crunch numbers for the Nazis' rocket projects. Helping to keep track of the undesirables intended for slaughter in the concentration camps? That was IBM's job.

Larry and Lucy's wedding is going to be the bomb

Owen Thomas · 11/02/07 03:19PM

Let's say that you're the billionaire founder of a massively successful Internet giant, and you've booked Richard Branson's exclusive Caribbean getaway, Necker Island, for your bride-to-be's dream wedding. What's the only conceivable way to ruin it? Why, to book it on December 7, a date which will live in infamy. For those of you in the Facebook generation, that's when Bill Gates declared, 12 years ago, that Microsoft was going to own the Internet.

Choire · 10/10/07 12:00PM

Way way WAY more detail on things New Yorker-related than you could ever need in the latest interview with that magazine's librarians. And yet, totally fascinating: "The magazine's Tables for Two department was originally called When Nights Are Bold, and it included reviews of nightclubs and speakeasies as well as restaurants. Charles Baskerville wrote the column, under the pseudonym Tophat, until July 18, 1925, when Lois Long took over, writing under the pen name Lipstick. The column was renamed Tables for Two in the September 12, 1925, issue. Long, a former Vanity Fair reporter, brought a lively and effervescent tone to the column, which typically ran to two or three pages." [EmDashes]