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Claude E. Shannon: Communications as a Statistical Process, 1955

Gadgets and Gizmos

As a young child, Claude Elwood Shannon could be found tinkering with gadgets of his own construction in his home in Petosky, Michigan. He constructed model planes and ingeniously wired a telegraph system between his house and home of one of his friends, who lived half a mile away. This fascination with gadgets would follow Shannon throughout his life. Though history remembers him chiefly for his contributions to the science of Communications, he delighted in manipulating mechanics to create gizmos ranging from a rocket-powered Frisbee to a computer cleverly called THROBAC (THrifty ROman numerical BAckward looking Computer) that performed calculations using Roman numerals. By all accounts Shannon had a jovial, adventurous personality as well as a formidable intellect, and was known by his colleagues at Bell Telephone Labs on the one hand for his achievements in the field of communication, and on the other for his ability to juggle while riding a unicycle through the halls of Bell Labs.