Vintage Video Shows First Pizza Ordered By Computer In 1974
Today ordering meals online through Web site such as Dominos.com and similar smartphone apps, as well as communicating with computer voices such as Apple’s Siri may be an everyday occurrence, but in 1974 such activities were merely science fiction. That is until scientists at Michigan State’s Artificial Language Lab made history with the first computer-ordered pizza. As a group of researchers stood by in anticipation, Donald Sherman ordered a pepperoni, mushroom, ham and sausage pizza through a CDC 6500 computer named Alexander—and it wasn’t as easy as it might sound.
1970s pizzeria workers weren’t accustomed to hearing a robotic-sounding voice on the other end of the phone, and the first four calls resulted in hangups. After two failed attempts calling the local Domino’s, the researchers turned their attention to a smaller pizzeria in East Lansing, Mr. Mike’s. Again the first two calls were disconnected by bewildered workers. But upon the third attempt to Mr. Mikes and fifth call, James Kenny, the patient assistance manager, listened as Alexander explained his computer voice was an experimental communications device.
From there, Alexander was able to slowly but surely order the large pizza that totaled $6.50. At the end of the call, the researchers, seen below, erupted in applause.
The phone call was not only a milestone in electronic communications, but a personal feat for Sherman. The Michigan State alumnus was an advocate for the disabled and helped design the program to allow a computer to articulate artificial speech in hopes to help those with speech impairments. Sherman himself suffered from Moebius syndrome—a facial paralysis that kept him from pronouncing “b” and “p” sounds.
I want more stuff like this!