World’s First Book Writen by a Computer is Now Available as a PDF
Spambots and other computer generated text is widely considered the bane of the modern web, but that wasn’t always the case. There was a time where when this idea was new and clever, and someone reportedly even used a precursor to today’s spambots to write a book.
Back in 1983 a pair of programmer/writers released a text generator called Racter (short for raconteur). The program was pitched as a way to let the computer write stories and poems, but there are reports that it wasn’t terribly sophisticated and in fact the quality of the output more closely resembled that of a MadLibs style of story writing.
While the released version of Racter was limited, it looks like there might also have been a more sophisticated version. One of the programmers, William Chamberlain, later published a book which he attributed to Racter. That book was The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed, and it was published in 1984.
That book is long out of print, and there is no legit ebook either. Luckily this book was saved from obscurity by Udu, a nonprofit group that scans obscure and worthwhile art and literature.
I’m not sure how this book qualifies as literature, but it does strike me as historically significant. After all, it does stand as a testament to the time before spambots joined the dark side.
You can find it as a 33MB PDF.
If you absolutely insist on a paper copy, you can find it on Amazon for about $40.
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[…] day by day, that's not where they got their start. The earliest text-generating bot I know of was released in 1983. Racter (short for raconteur) was intended to write stories but the tech just wasn't up to the task […]