Atlas Wrote Poetry

I just read this terrific article about the early computer programming career of the writer J. M. Coetzee. In the mid-1960s he had a hand in designing the Atlas 2 supercomputer in Britain. During off hours, he wrote programs to generate “computer poetry” using an algorithm to select and combine words from a closed vocabulary. The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has a collection of Coetzee’s papers that includes sheaves of this “computer poetry” on dot matrix printouts from 1965. These papers were never published, but he did included some edited phrases in later writings. The archives also contain printouts of Coetzee’s Fortran programs and Fortran pseudocode.

Jul 16 2017