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The Intersection of Humanities and Science: Computers and Aquaculture

Posted on March 30th 2012

While computation aids have been a part of life for hundreds of years, the computer age didn’t start until 1801, when Joseph-Marie Jacquard developed a weaving loom controlled by punch cards.

The origin of IBM can be traced back to the late 1880s, when Herman Hollerith invented the data storage punch cards that became the foundation of the information processing age. Many years later, in 1951, the first commercial computer, Ferranti Mark 1, was delivered to the University of Manchester. The machine was expensive, bulky and cumbersome but still led to commercial applications with the LEO 1 being used in the operations of J Lyons & Company Bakery. IBM quickly started producing electronic data processing machines. Computers by their nature were the domain of mathematicians and engineers and were very mysterious and scary machines to the uninformed; namely, a great percentage of the population.

Microcomputers first appeared in the mid-1970s, with P606 by Olivetti being introduced at the Hanover Fair in April 1975. This spawned the first computer do-it-yourself kits including the Apple 1. Apple was the first to add graphic and sound capabilities. This allowed for a much more interactive and intuitive machine that prompted the development of “software,” programs that could be changed and adapted by the users.

Even though early computers were expensive and unreliable, the industry developed quickly. Early computer manufacturers—like IBM and Hewlett Packard—continued to focus on hardware, while the upstart company Microsoft focused on software.   Apple, on the other hand, believed that hardware and software were inseparable and that modern computers needed end-to-end design and function to work properly and to truly become accessible and usable to everyone, not just “computer geeks.”

In Steve Jobs’ biography, Walter Isaacson reveals one of the driving forces behind Apple, the most valuable company in the history of the stock market: “The intersection of the humanities and science.” Steve Jobs believed that it was not innovation that made Apple, but the deep current of humanity in the innovation at Apple. 

A comparison of the modern day aquaculture industry and the computer industry can be made using the same intersection of science and humanities.  Aquaculture has developed because of great science. Our history of advancement in aquaculture through science is as extensive as the history of the computer. We have the world’s greatest scientists helping us grow delicious, sustainable seafood. But we are also artists and innovators working in cultural centers around the world looking after our fish and our environment.   The art of fish farming is as important as the science behind it. Let’s make it our passion to build a sustainable aquaculture  industry where people are motivated to grow great seafood products.