The First Pizza Ordered by Computer, 1974

By the late 1960s, tech­nol­o­gists were already invent­ing the future we now inhab­it. Arthur C. Clarke peered into the future and saw a wired world where infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion would be imme­di­ate and bor­der­less. Mar­shall McLuhan fore­saw the rough out­lines of what we now call “social media.” And oth­ers pre­dict­ed that email and ecom­merce were on the not-so-dis­tant hori­zon. It should per­haps then come as no sur­prise that, just a few years lat­er, The Arti­fi­cial Lan­guage Lab­o­ra­to­ry at Michi­gan State devel­oped a way for the com­put­er to start doing some every­day com­merce — like order­ing piz­za.

In 1974 Don­ald Sher­man, whose speech was lim­it­ed by a neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der called Moe­bius Syn­drome, used a new-fan­gled device designed by John Eulen­berg to dial up a pizze­ria. The first call went to Domi­nos, which hung up. They were appar­ent­ly too busy becom­ing a behe­moth. Mer­ci­ful­ly, a humane pizze­ria — Mr. Mike’s — took the call, and his­to­ry was made. It all plays out above, and we hope that Mr. Mike’s is still thriv­ing all these years lat­er.…

via Coudal

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Comments (7)
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  • Rather unfair to blame Domi­no’s. In that first call Sher­man did not pref­ace the order with an expla­na­tion that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion required time to pre­pare each response. I think prefa­to­ry remarks are an impor­tant ele­ment when ini­ti­at­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion with some­one not famil­iar with a new com­mu­ni­ca­tion method. Edu­ca­tion is basic to meet­ing human needs in new and bet­ter ways.

    Today the phone com­pa­ny spon­sors relay call­ing, where spe­cial­ly-trained oper­a­tors can relay calls between peo­ple using dif­fer­ent sens­es of per­cep­tion. And this ser­vice is accom­plished pri­mar­i­ly using peo­ple, not com­put­ers.

    Of course, piz­za today can often be ordered and paid for entire­ly by com­put­er, using the Web. When we are lucky.

    Dis­abled peo­ple are suc­cess­ful­ly using assis­tive tech­nol­o­gy today, yet blind peo­ple still are not grant­ed the abil­i­ty to vote by them­selves in pri­vate because not all polling places pro­vide assis­tive devices, or to know inde­pen­dent­ly what bills are in their wal­lets, because our bills still don’t con­tain tac­tile fea­tures rep­re­sent­ing their denom­i­na­tion, unlike those of 50 oth­er coun­tries.

    More than tech­nol­o­gy is need­ed for good solu­tions; we need the under­stand­ing, con­cern, com­pas­sion, and edu­ca­tion to meet human needs through human insti­tu­tions.

  • CrankVonk says:

    Ho cool is that dude? Wow.

  • Alex Oliszewski says:

    Did some quick research. Does not look like Mike’s Piz­za is around any more. Also, it does­n’t look like they made it long enough to leave an imprint on the inter­net (or least on the sur­face.)

  • Alex says:

    San­dra bul­lock in “The net”.

  • Phill says:

    “Hand­i­cap­per”? Was he set­ting odds on horse races? That term did­n’t last too much longer, I think.

  • Clinton Weir says:

    Order­ing piz­za is an ‘every­day’ task? Wow, no won­der we’re so fat. Maybe we could try cut­ting back to order­ing piz­za 5 times per week?

  • Lori Crockett says:

    I laughed out loud when Mr. Mike said, “Can you spell it?” and the com­put­er (Alexan­der) said, “Yes.” But Mr. Mike was quick and super smart and real­ized his error and rephrased his ques­tion to, “WOULD you spell it?”
    Alexan­der gave a typ­i­cal Shel­don response! And then when Alexan­der was asked to say good­bye, he respond­ed just as lit­er­al­ly as Shel­don again with “Good­bye, Alexan­der.” Too fun­ny!!!!

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