"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
The story is set in a future in which human beings have had computers for so long that they have forgotten how to do simple arithmetic.
This is an early reference to this idea in science fiction. It's even more intriguing when you consider that this is the basis for the idea of a technological Singularity, which suggests that if computers were allowed to design better computers, then we would eventually have computers that transcended human intelligence completely.
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Army's New Bird-Like Surveillance UAV
'The prototype blue-bellied, gray-backed tracer-bird with the wide-angle eye...'
Honda's Tumblebug - The UNI-CUB beta
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'
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'... dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.'
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"... Almost as good as the original it was printed from."
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'See Vee Threepio - Vee for versatility - at your service...'
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'Three and a half centimetres in diameter, permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'
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Like that pushpin device you remember, but supercharged.
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Robert Heinlein, Your Personal Electric Helicopter Will Be Ready In 2016
"They were half way home when a single flyer, hopping free in a copter harness, approached the little parade."
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'...moving with such drifting ease that it was like a single solid cloud of black-grey smoke blown at him in silence.' Almost.
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