AN APOCRYPHAL TALE about Thomas J. Watson Sr., the onetime president of IBM, claims that, probably around 1949, he decided that there was a market for no more than about a dozen computers and that IBM had no place in that business. This anecdote is usually told to show that the seemingly invincible leader of IBM was just as capable of making a foolish decision as the rest of the human race. Conversely, the story portrays as heroes those few individuals, such as Eckert and Mauchly, who foresaw a big market for computers. There is perhaps some justice in this verdict of posterity regarding the conservative Watson versus the radical Eckert and Mauchly. Another way of interpreting these responses to the computer is as the rational versus the irrational, based on business acumen and past experience. Thus Watson was rational but wrong, while Eckert and Mauchly were irrational but right. It could just as easily have been the other way around—and then Watson would still have been a major business leader, but not many people would have heard of Eckert and Mauchly.