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How We Got Computers (and Taxes)
A Light Look at Computers and Civilization
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins

A long time ago someone wanted to record his thoughts so that he could save them for his children.  He shaved off a tablet of slate and scratched some marks into it so that he could reread what he was thinking earlier.

This was good, but then he had to teach the rest of the world the meaning of his scratches.  So he taught his sons to read, but he didn't believe girls should read, so they had to wait a few thousand years to learn to read and write.

Then it was discovered that lightning had power that could write those scratches into stone automatically if you directed it correctly.  That is how we got computers.  Then someone had to figure out how to save the scratches so they could be carried around more easily.  That is how we got paper.

After we had paper, the computer could produce enough copies to give one to everybody.  Paper was easier to carry than stone tablets, and it was easier to cut down and smash trees for paper then to chip slate and scratch scratches into it.  Paper didn't break as easily as slate either.  But it still took a long time to deliver the papers by foot or by horse.  That is how we got post offices.

But the post offices needed to pay their workers, so they had to take something from the people whose stone tablets or papers they carried.  That is also how we got money.

Then someone thought about making a special computer which just made copies of what the lightning-powered computer printed.  That is how we got photocopiers.  This meant you could write out new papers even while you were making the copies to send to the post office.  This is how we got more papers than we can read.

The post office had to charge more, because there were too many papers.  This is how we got inflation.  Then someone discovered a way to use computers to keep track of inflation.  This is how we got spreadsheets.

Spreadsheets (number processors) needed more paper than writing programs (word processors).  This required even more smashed trees.  This made a hole in the sky and people got too hot.  This is how we got global warming.

Thus people blamed economists for floods and fire.  They needed someone to pass laws against the economists.  This is how we got governments.  The governments needed money to run the courts and close the hole in the sky.  This is how we got taxes.

So now you know how we got computers, taxes and global warming.


First published in Afri-Com in September 1993
This version posted August 2000
First posted on OrvilleJenkins.com 14 April 2002

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 1993, 2000, 2002
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