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"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
- Frederik Pohl

Automatic Pilot  
  A device to control the movement of aircraft using computer components.  

Marketing is everything in this classic novel from the 1950's. Although Pohl certainly did not invent the automatic pilot, he is one of the first to use a non-mechanical method to make it work.

A team of designers went to work on an automatic pilot. When it was done it worked pretty well. And weighed four and a half tons in spite of printed circuits and relays constructed under a microscope.
Technovelgy from The Space Merchants, by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth).
Published by St. Martin's Press in 1952
Additional resources -

Elmer A. Sperry built the first automatic pilot for aircraft using gyroscopes in 1910.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Space Merchants
  More Ideas and Technology by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth)
  Tech news articles related to The Space Merchants
  Tech news articles related to works by Frederik Pohl (w/CM Kornbluth)

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