short story - possibly called "Arms Race" - about rediscovery of manual arithmetic.

The hero rediscovers manual calculation - e.g., how to do long division with pencil and paper - in a world where everyone has ben using calculators for aeons. Brought before the president to demonstrate this, the great line in the story is the president, after using his calculator to check the hero's answer, says, "My God -- he's right." A great national project to exploit this advance over the enemy is obviously necessary...

  • Not an answer, but it puts me in mind of Arthur C Clarke's Into The Comet that I read as a kid... Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 14:52
  • I'm sure I've got this somewhere, but I can't think of who the author is. Maybe Richard Matheson? It's partly a cold-war story: it's considered a strategic advantage if they can equip planes or missiles with operators who can make their own calculations. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 14:53
  • How can this question be a duplicate of a question that was asked three years after this one? Shouldn't the [duplicate] tag be moved to the other one? Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


Look like The Feeling of Power from Isaac Asimov. I read it in the Nine Tomorrows short stories collection.

In the distant future, humans live in a computer-aided society and have forgotten the fundamentals of mathematics, including even the rudimentary skill of counting.

The Terrestrial Federation is at war with Deneb, and the war is conducted by long-range weapons controlled by computers which are expensive and hard to replace. Myron Aub, a low grade Technician, discovers how to reverse-engineer the principles of pencil-and-paper arithmetic from computers — a development which is later dubbed "Graphitics". The discovery is appropriated by the military establishment, who use it to re-invent their understanding of mathematics. They also plan to replace their computer-operated ships with lower cost, more expendable (in their opinion) manned ships to continue the war.

  • 2
    Bingo! Thanks. I got the details wrong, but that's it. Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 15:10
  • Since commenting on the question, I've been thinking of what other short story collections I have and I just remembered Asimov... Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 15:30
  • note than the Nine Tomorrows short stories collection include The Last Question, his favorite short story of his own authorship.
    – DavRob60
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 15:54
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    @PhobeAnnSharp - this is around 5 years late, but if this was the correct answer could you please consider clicking the accept button under the voting buttons? (The OP was last seen in '14, so there's a small hope...)
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 17:03

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