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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Edward L. Ginzton

Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering


December 4, 1964 Dr. Edward L. Ginzton Varian Associates 611 Hansen Way Palo Alto, California Dear Ed: A couple of year6 ago you indicated you would be interested in any comment I might want to make on the lines of development that would be of mo6t general use in instrumentation for biological research. What made me think of that again I don't know, but I am enclosing something I wrote up on the subject 6ome while ago. My answer now is really a parry: the general purpose digital computer. We are still a long way from having the kind6 of machine6 we could we for real time laboratory applications; we have a LINC in the department that juet [email protected] to fill the bill. But the machine6 6hould come down about 5-10 fold in price before we can ube them a6 freely as they should be used. So mass production technique and economy is obltgatory - a prospect that will doubtless discourage many risk-capital entreprenaurs from pushing hard now. Beside?6 the computers, modular component6 that lend them6elve6 to interfaces at computer input-output will probably dominate tomorrow'e instruments. In the same earlier corrtepondence, I also betrayed 6ome enthusiasm for photo- chromism. I hadn't reali6ed then how much work was already going on in this field by group6 at NCR, IBM and Corning. Even so, thi6 is still an enonnou6 field utd opportunity, perhapa especially because there is not yet a dense tradition binding electrical engineers with organic chemists. What I have in mind for the long run is obviously the %oleeular computer". Meanwhile, photoch&lc switching should already allow such device6 a6 a light-amplifier (light in; light out: input beam modulating the attenuation of a photoch%nic filter); in the spatial domain this would give projection TV, maybe image intensification for more creative purposes too. t Sincerely yours, Joehua Lederberg Professor of Genetics

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