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Anecdotes: Letter (and lessons learned) from the founder of Babson College: Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129867D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 4 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Jerome Kanter: AUTHOR [+2]


Director, CIMS Babson College Babson Park, MA 02157-0310

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 25% of the total text.

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Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Anecdotes: Letter (and lessons learned) from the founder of Babson College:

Jerome Kanter

Director, CIMS Babson College Babson Park, MA 02157-0310

November 5, 1955 Mr. Ralph May 50 Congress Street Boston 9, Massachusetts

Your letter of November 1st received. The goal, of course, is to give better instruction for less cost. This will partly be accomplished by using such machines as the UNIVAC.

The goal of any improved instruction must be smaller classes -- not over 20. The instructors must be the ablest and most up-to-date who will command huge salaries -- like movie actors -- of $60,000 to $600,000 per year, each serving through these machines a hundred or more colleges, at a cost per college no greater than the price of records. Each class will be monitored by a "clerk" paid $100 per week trained as a piano player. She will operate the UNIVAC for this small group, working eight hours per day, serving several different classes, changing the memory drums as needed.

The UNIVAC will be fed at a central studio by recording over a period of one or more years all the answers to questions which have been asked of these famous men during the past two or three years. Every possible question will be in the Index book, and every possible answer will be in the famous man's own voice in the UNIVAC. The students will argue with these famous professors, and the UNIVAC will answer. It will be a round table far exceeding in intelligence and interest anything now at conventions or on television. The presiding young lady will only operate a dial -- like a telephone dial. She will call any number, which will give the answer to any question. The result should be more effective than the present "human touch" idea. We have been misled to believe we must have a visible human teacher.

Most sincerely, Roger Babson

I discovered this letter, written a third of a century ago, in the files of a colleague of mine at Babson College. I became interested in Roger Babson after reading an autobiography and a biography of this fascinating gentleman. In his letter to the chairman of the board of Babson College, written when he was 80 years old, we gain a glimpse into the mind of the visionary educator and financier. Mr. Babson presents a revolutionary concept for education, wherein the wisdom of the greatest thinkers and teachers of the day would be recorded and stored in a computer database. Students in classrooms throughout the country could ask questions and in effect carry on an electronic dialogue with these famous people. The computer would serve as their tutor, a cloned Socrates, simultaneously enlightening a world of would-be Platos.

Mr. Babson's perspectives are truly amazing if one considers that it wasn't until 1954 that the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC I, was ins...