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  1. We aren’t dealing with ordinary machines here. These are highly complicated pieces of equipment almost as complicated as living organisms. In some cases, they’ve been designed by other computers. We don’t know exactly how they work.

  2. I’m also reminded of an awesome book I found on my dad’s bookshelf, Man and the Computer. Here’s the Amazon page on it:

    Here’s a little discussion of some projections that Kemeny made in the book:

    Pretty neat. He was a grad student or assistant to Einstein at one point. He was in on the ground floor of the computer revolution, back when a quadratic equation took a computer a week to solve. He didn’t foresee the incredible speed increases that computers would make, but did predict a lot of the uses that an individual would find for them.

  3. “The latest computers from Japan can also perform magical operations.”

    This has the distinct smell of Haggis-on-Whey to it, methinks. We truly live in a World of Wonder.

  4. I cannot tell you how totally awesome this is!

    Totally awesome!

    Made my Christmas Eve.

    Speaking of which Merry Christmas all.

  5. “…so long as the computer has been successfully prevented from dreaming.”
    right on bubba…i can dig where your comin’ from

  6. I love the mention of steam powered computers that don’t work… and the coal-fired powered ones that apparently do – but don’t use steam, as that doesn’t work, you see.

  7. “Remember, however, that electricity is like magic: No-one really understands it, and it is very dangerous.”

    “You should do what scientists tell you to.”

  8. I would so buy a printed copy of this book. “Only women may feed computers,” indeed. And apparently then only from those with well manicured hands. Good thing I have a red computer

  9. This was the *very* book (well, actually the earlier version of it around 1973) that was in our Math library … and at 8 yrs old, it got me interested in computers. Computing has been very good to me as a career … being paid for doing something you love! I have much to thank for this book. Cheers, Ladybird Books!

  10. I loved this. It seems in the same vein as the hilarious British television series Look Around You, which parodies late-’70s/early-’80s educational science videos, and is stylistically brilliant.

    The voice-over narrator examines the most obvious facts in meticulous detail, punctuated with casual statements of bizarre misinformation.

    Most units purport to cover broad science topics such as “sulpher,” “maths” and “germs”–my favorite episode, however, is the unit on “ghosts.”

  11. Dammit Reflex, I just realized that I bought a blue computer and my wife bought a red one. How embarrassing; she’s got the faster one.

  12. ‘This is called a “clock cycle” and results in 1d6 experience being gained by the participants.’

    HAHAHAHA omg I must have missed that the first time reading this.


    Thanks again for posting this.

  13. Yes to #25!!

    Nobody has done better than Look Around You when it comes to edu-film parody.

    But Brass Eye has come close with their infamous [url=]Paedogeddon[/url] special from 2001.

  14. Wow – I never got to read this one; the only ones I got to see were How It Works… The Hovercraft, and How It Works… Farm Machinery. I remember reading that as a kid, and I was fascinated by the diagrams of the blower motors and intake ducts, and its explanation of how maintaining air pressure was important in order to keep the hovercraft high enough to be able to move over sea, land, and neighbors without being obstructed. The Farm Machinery one scared me though, mainly the section that showed how bumper cops were harvested, stored, then processed into sausage links. They did have a cool section on how cows are milked though.

  15. Pssst. I can assure you that a lot of the rather funny but suspicious text in those images is modern photo-trickery, likely achieved by misuse of a computer!

    I know this because I own a pristine copy of this book. Even without edits it’s quite funny.

  16. I had to clean up the garage when my parents were moving out from the family home. I came across a pile of my old childhood books. Most were tatty and had to be binned. Others went to the charity shop but one of the books I kept was my How It Works, Microscopes and Telescopes from Ladybird.

  17. This is obviously a fake book. Wikipedia and Google? (Seriously, I almost had myself believing that the book is real, till I got to Google).

  18. hehehe. so good.

    i’m sure i’d immediately call bs if the last page was the first one i read, but the steady increments in incredulity make it surprisingly plausible. sort of like a mental version of the “frogs don’t jump out of boiling water if you slowly turn the temperature up” theme.

  19. I actually got a copy of this book as a kid (and actually still have it). The funny captions aren’t in my copy and the text is a bit different too.

  20. Thanks to those who enjoyed it!

    To those that thought it was real: I want a bag of whatever you got for christmas.

  21. @HoHum/#6: Exactly what I was thinking. Peter S. would be proud. =:)

    Hey, BB editors! If you were to offer a hard copy of this for sale, I would totally buy it. Just sayin’.

  22. I thought this was cold-war era subversive literature. An attempt to make our stupid kids more stupid!!

    I did see an old puppy control unit on EBAY, you needed a new puppy of of course 😉

  23. Oh, bloody hell. I bought a 2nd hand copy of this for my brother a couple of Christmasses ago. If only I’d had the foresight to hang on to it, I could probably shift it on eBay for rent money today.


  24. I got almost as much entertainment out of the commentors who take themselves too seriously, as the book.

    Seriously, folks- of course Wikipedia and Google existed in 1978! How else would they get into this amazing book? Unless one of those Japanese computers that can do magical functions was involved…


  25. @#43

    Thanks for the help.

    I hate when incredibly obvious attempts at humor jerk me around.

    Your keen detective work led you past the various truths such as ‘only women can feed computers’ and ‘puppy controller’ weren’t able to hide the glaring fallacy that wikipedia existed in 1978.

  26. By coincidence there was a letter aboiut this book (the original that is) in The Guardian recently. Apparently, when the Ministry of Defence first started rolling out computer access to its staff it could find no better general guide to computers. However, there was concern that senior civil servants wou;d be embarrassed to be seen learning from a children’s book (Ladybird is exclusively a children’s imprint) and so Ladybird was asked to do an edition with its own name much less prominent. They refused.

  27. ” #18 posted by entropy , December 24, 2008 9:01 PM

    Umm, this is very funny but i think it is some sort of fake. the real copy of the book can be found here, i read several pages and they do not match up at with what is printed here. Merry Christmas BB-gadgets, thanks for a great year of gadget blogging.

    great job at avoiding comedy, dumbass.

  28. Congrats to all of you who are questioning the legitimacy of this book. You all win the “Thanks, Captain Obvious! Award of 2009”

  29. “If I could feel, I would feel love.
    If I could touch, I would touch God
    If I could see, I would see truth
    If I could dream, I would dream
    And if I could kill, you
    GLaDOS prototype, perhaps? XD

  30. That’s very funny! Definitely worthy of comparison to ‘Look Around You’ and other such mockumental spoofs.

    Funnier by far, however, are the sheer number of ‘wait, I think this is fake’ posts. Darwin awards await you all…

    …and I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw the poem and thought of GLaDOS!

  31. Most Ladybird books with dust-wrappers have a list of other books on the back inside flap. This list shows the other books that are to be found within that particular series.

    If your books’ title appears last on the list, or not at all, then this is strong indication that it could be a first edition bankruptcy. This is NOT to say that if your title is last on the list that you definately have a first edition – there are other issue points to consider!

    An example of this exception is demonstrated with the image opposite – the title of this book is Smoke and Fluff – note that this title does not appear in the list and therefore could be presumed to be a first edition – BUT it’s not! This is actually a fifth edition from 1947 as this is stated on the front flyleaf.

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