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The Electronic Coach (1959) [video] (youtube.com)
23 points by furcyd on Dec 18, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 2 comments

Knuth talks about this video in his "Web of Stories" interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnMkW8M1ZGk&list=PLVV0r6CmEs...

> I was manager of the basketball team, at Case.

> And I’ll say a few words about that, because after I got into computers later on, I combined that with my managing the Basketball team. So I devised a strange formula that I don’t believe in much any more, but anyway, I had it at the time, where you could compute each basketball player’s real contribution to the game.

> [...] So I calculated a huge number of statistics for every player, and I had a spotter, who would call to me, and I could write it down, every little thing, and after the game I would go and punch cards that recorded all these statistics, and fed them into a little computer program [...]

> So Case’s Coach, Nip Heim, loved this system, and you know, he posted these numbers, and the Case News Service was always good at trying to plant interesting stories in the local paper, so they sent reporters out [...] and IBM heard about it. So IBM sent out [a camera crew] to make a film of me spotting a game, [...] our Case team playing basketball [...] how I would punch the cards, you know, and put it into the IBM computer. Before they took the shot of the IBM computer, they planted a great, big IBM sign on the machine, so that nobody could fail to miss it [...] and it’s getting printed out on the IBM printer, and then the Coach is looking at it and posting this up.

> So this was a little movie that I was in, about two or three minutes long. IBM supplies this movie to CBS, and they put it on the Sunday Evening News with Walter Cronkite, and all my relatives in Florida can see me on TV. This was very exciting. Also US News and World Report ran a story about it, and so this was my connection between computing and sports, when I was at Case. This was also a clever way for IBM to get their advertisements in there, rather subtly, but it was fun.

> That was when I first realized how hard it must be to be a movie star, because I had to walk through these scenes six times everything, you know, punch those cards over and over again. How could Audrey Hepburn possibly look so beautiful after the sixth take, you know?

(Thanks to https://github.com/kragen/knuth-interview-2006 for transcribing the videos.)

Donald Knuth doing moneyball with computerized stats for Basketball teams as a 1950s college student!

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