Tech Communicators in Literature

Subject: Tech Communicators in Literature
From: Thomas Barker <DITTB -at- TTACS -dot- TTU -dot- EDU>
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 1995 10:24:00 -0600

Here's a message for those interested in collecting famous tech
communictators in literature. I propose we include Geoffrey
Chaucer ("The Canturbury Tales," "Troylus and Criseyde,") who, in
1391, wrote the "Treatise on the Astrolabe." At that time people
used these pocket-sized, sun-dial like devices to plot star
positions. The "Treatise" includes diagrams (with generic hands)
and represents an early example of the description of a mechanism
and task orientation. Here's a sample from the Prologue:

"The firste partie of this treatis shal reherse the
figures and the members of thin astrolabie, by cause
that thow shalt han the gretter knowyng of thine
own instrument.

The second partie shal tech the werken [you to
work or perform] the verry practic of the foreseide
conclusiouns [functions], as ferforth and as narwe
[exactly] as may be shewyd in so small an instrument
portatif aboute."

Sound familiar? Chaucer "spec"-ed the "Treatise" to contain 5
volumes, the later containing reference tables of star positions
and declinations and astronomical theory, but only finished the
first 2 volumes. He also wrote for a companion product, the
equatorie. It's all in "The Complete Poetry and Prose of
Geoffrey Chaucer" (John Fisher, ed., Holt, 1977.)

Tommy Barker
ditTB -at- ttacs -dot- ttu -dot- edu

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