It would run the numbers, super fast, and tell a candidate the consequences of taking a position

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The Fortran language is intended to be capable of expressing any problem of numerical computation. . . . However, for problems in which machine words have a logical rather than a numerical meaning it is less satisfactory, and it may fail entirely to express some such problems. —Fortran: Automatic Coding System for the IBM 704, 1956.
He intended to build a machine.


Sometimes he called it an Issues UNIVAC. Sometimes he called it a Voting Behavior Machine. It would run the numbers, super fast, and tell a candidate the consequences of taking a position on any issue, anywhere, state by state, county by county, voter by voter, issue by issue. It would have to be ready in time for the election of 1960. To build that machine, he knew, he needed a very rare sort of man: a computer man. (Pg.73)

f + h = p (fear plus hate equals power)

—Advertising copy for Eugene Burdick, The Ninth Wave, 1956. (Pg.32)

Political campaigns had begun turning to advertising agencies, too, saying, in effect, “We don’t sell candidates, we buy voters.” Shrewd observers greeted this development with alarm. In 1951, the fearless muckraker Carey McWilliams published an explosive three-part series in the Nation, a profile of a married couple, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter, who ran a California company called Campaigns, Inc., the first political consulting firm in the history of the world.9 They’d opened shop in 1933, chiefly running political campaigns for Republican candidates. For a long time, they’d taken only California clients. But beginning in 1949, they’d engaged in a national campaign, and they’d won: retained by the American Medical Association, they’d defeated a national health insurance plan proposed by the Democratic president, Harry S. Truman—the last, unfinished work of the New Deal. The AMA paid Campaigns, Inc., $3.5 million. (Pg.22)

Founded in 1959, the Simulmatics Corporation established offices in New York, Washington, Cambridge, and, eventually, Saigon before it declared bankruptcy, in 1970. The company wore a cloak of intrigue. This was, in part, unintentional. “The mystery surrounding Simulmatics started with its name,” its president once explained to the company’s stockholders. “We were a contraction of two words—‘simulation’ and ‘automatic.’ ”5 Its founders hoped the name would become a watchword, a byword, like “cybernetics.” It did not. The obscurity of the word “simulmatics” is a measure of their failure. But its meaning is a measure of their ambition: to automate the simulation of human behavior. (Pg.12)

Simulmatics As Simulacrum? A Conversation With Historian Jill Lepore PodCast.

NEW YORK – OCTOBER 02: Professor of American History at Harvard Jill Lepore

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