1961: Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

It’s day 4 of our 50th anniversary series. Here’s an excerpt from John B. Thurston’s review of the first edition of Norbert Wiener’s Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine (1948). The review appeared in the April 23, 1949 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature:

“It appears impossible for anyone seriously interested in our civilization to ignore this book. It is a ‘must’ book for those in every branch of science—engineers (all kinds), mathematicians, physiologists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, chemists (all kinds), psychopathologists, neuroanatomists, neurophysiologists, etc. In addition, economists, politicians, statesmen, and businessmen cannot afford to overlook cybernetics and its tremendous, even terrifying, implications…

Professor Wiener calls this ‘a preliminary book’ on the subject of cybernetics. It is a beautifully written book, lucid, direct, and, despite its complexity, as readable by the layman as the trained scientist, if the former is willing to forego attempts to understand mathematical formulas.”

The full review can be accessed here.

Our 50 influential journal articles are listed here. The articles are in chronological order and will be freely available through the end of 2012.

For information about the MIT Press’ history, check out our 50th anniversary page.