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A Letter From The Publisher: Jan. 3, 1983

2 minute read

For the past 55 years, TIME’s Man of the Year covers have depicted real individuals or, on four occasions, a symbolic representation of a group of people: G.I. Joe (1950) the Hungarian Patriot (1956), the Young (1966) and Middle Americans (1969). Several human candidates might have represented 1982, but none symbolized the past year more richly, or will be viewed by history as more significant, than a machine: the computer.

Throughout 1982, TIME chronicled the computer revolution, both by devoting three covers to it and by introducing in April a new Computers section. Says Senior Writer Frederic Golden, who contributed to this week’s cover stories-Computers were once regarded as distant, ominous abstractions, like Big Brother. In 1982 they truly became personalized brought down to scale, so that people could hold, prod and play with them.” Golden often writes his own stories at home on a TRS-80 Model III; another cover contributor, Computers Section Writer Philip Faflick, works on an Apple II Plus in his apartment. Indeed, by October 1983, the entire TIME editorial operation will be using the latest generation of word processors.

In search of a memorable depiction of the irresistible invasion of computers into American homes, Art Director Rudy Hoglund approached George Segal, the world-famous sculptor. Segal almost never accepts commercial commissions but Hoglund thought Segal’s “stark and dramatic settings in which the eye is drawn to objects,” were perfectly suited to the first Machine of the Year. Segal enthusiastically agreed Hoglund went to Richardson Smith, a design firm in Columbus to create the mock computers portrayed on the cover.

For all that computers have achieved, they can still prove frustrating. In April, Golden’s machine inexplicably swal lowed the cover story he had written on the Computer Generation. San Francisco Correspondent Michael Moritz, part of a special reporting team that included New York Bureau Chief Peter Stoler and Chicago Correspondent J. Madeleine Nash briefly lost touch with New York when his telephone computer link malfunctioned. Says Contributor Jay Cocks who anxiously awaited Moritz’s report: “They told me that his computer was down. I envisioned an old hippie having a fit of depression.” Meanwhile, Senior Writer Otto Friedrich resolutely tapped out his Machine of the Year story on his favorite machine of all: a 15-year-old Royal 440.

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