TitleEarnest, Les (Lester D.) oral history
|Dennis, Eric, Videographer|
|Earnest, Les, Interviewee|
|Spicer, Dag, Interviewer|
PublisherComputer History Museum
Place of PublicationMountain View, California
DescriptionLester Donald Earnest (born December 17, 1930) is an American computer scientist. In this interview, he describes his childhood and early influences, including a brief stay at Caltech. He began work as a programmer for the U.S. Navy in the early 1950s, checking solutions derived from one of the world’s largest and fastest analog computers of the day, the Typhoon.
In 1956, he began work at MIT on the USAF SAGE project. In Earnest’s view, the SAGE system was a fraudulent technical solution to a political problem, one whose capabilities were always exaggerated. He provides support for this view.
Earnest took courses towards a master’s at MIT and created a novel handwriting recognizer. He then moved to Stanford University where he was a founding member of the AI lab there, working with John McCarthy. The early ARPANET is discussed, as is Earnest’s founding of a laser printer company, Imagen. Finally, Earnest discusses some of his post-retirement work with professional cycling.