Solow’s “computer age” quote: a definitive citation

You’re not going to think this is interesting unless you’re a stickler for details, but after being unable to track it down on the web I’ve finally definitively sourced this famous quote from Robert Solow:

You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.

The source is Robert Solow, “We’d better watch out”, New York Times Book Review, July 12 1987, page 36. The full article is linked here as a PDF because I was unable to find an electronic version. (I actually tracked down a hard copy from the UW library system!)

PS. Various sources online accurately source the quote to this article, but many others source it to The New York Review of Books (which didn’t have an edition on July 12 1987).

Congratulations to me for tracking down this citation! Next up (but I fear impossible): William McChesney Martin’s famous quote along the lines of how the Fed’s job is to take away the punch bowl just as the party’s getting started.

Update March 2011: The “punch bowl” mystery has been mostly solved!

10 responses to “Solow’s “computer age” quote: a definitive citation”

  1. Well done and my thanks.

  2. Thanks a million. They ought to hand out awards for these kind of matters

  3. Thank you so much Yoram.

    May I give you another challenge ;)

    I think I read that it is the same Robert Solow who, some years earlier, said a famous quote that goes something like “with more computers there will be more productivity.”

    but I cannot find it on the web… maybe others have heard this quote, maybe it is not from him…

    tks you again any way!

  4. Hi There Yoram
    Thanks for the citation .. i have been looking for this for my thesis ..

    and Michael G .. i think what you are looking for is in the following statement

    ”You can now see computers in the productivity statistics,” Mr. Solow said in an interview last week.

    I have found this in a New York Times article in the following URL

    I hope this what u were looking for ..


    it is exactly that. Mr. Solow is a true profesional, able to change his opinion on actualized data.

    Thank you very much guys!

  6. Well done and my thanks. (2)

  7. Bravo, a great job

  8. Thanks–this is the only place i could find it.

  9. You just made writing my thesis a bit easier. Thank you so much for your effort. Well done.

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