Christopher Strachey's Nineteen-Fifties Love Machine

The New Yorker

Overwrought love letters began turning up on the notice board at the University of Manchester's computer lab in August, 1953. And the signatory was always the same: "M.U.C.," for the Manchester University computer, a Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first general-purpose and commercially available machine of its kind. Far as computers might advance, this person would claim, "you will never be able to make one to do X"--where "X" meant "be kind, resourceful, beautiful, friendly, have initiative, have a sense of humour, tell right from wrong, make mistakes, fall in love, enjoy strawberries and cream, make some one fall in love with it," and other skills besides. The version of Strachey's love-letter generator that appears in this article is based on the emulator developed by David Link.