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Details

Catalog Number

102746589

Title

Earnest, Les (Lester D.) oral history

Type

Text

Date

2012-11-26

Contributor

Dennis, Eric, Videographer
Earnest, Les, Interviewee
Spicer, Dag, Interviewer

Publisher

Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, California

Extent

29 p.

Description

Lester 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.

Category

Transcription

Subject

Caltech; Pauling, Linus; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment); Bomarc missile; Typhoon; NORAD; Mitre; Rand Corporation; SDC (System Development Corporation); SAIL (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory); SPELL; ARPANET; Stanford Cart; McCarthy, John; Moravec, Hans; Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); ELIZA; Licklider, J.C.R.; Sutherland, Ivan; Taylor, Robert (Bob) W.; Imagen; Kay, Alan; Tesler, Larry; Raskin, Jef; Bechtolsheim, Andy; Joy, Bill; USA Cycling

Collection Title

Oral Histories Online

Lot Number

X6709.2013