I came across this description of the Connection Machine on this wikipedia page:

The Connection Machine, a 65,536-processor parallel computer designed in the mid-1980s, was a black cube with one side covered with a grid of red blinkenlights; the sales demo had them evolving Conway's Game of Life patterns.

Which made me think, immediately, of The Thing from the Bromeliad Trilogy. The Thing is a small black box, which serves as a flight computer and general thinking machine for the nomes.

From the picture on wikipedia, it looks like something like that, with lots of 'blinkenlights' could easily have inspired Pratchett's description of a futuristic computer. Has he ever cited inspiration for The Thing, or made similar references that might hint at such a fact?

1 Answer 1


If he every made his inspiration for the Thing explicit, it isn't recorded in the APF nor elsewhere on the Web. Blinkenlights were a meme (based on obsolete fact) well before the Connection Machine, and the blinkenlights on that machine were made because of the meme. You might as well ask whether Pratchett based the Thing on Star Trek or any other famous or less famous previous use of the meme. I don't think he had any specific machine in mind, just blinkenlights in general.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.