Technician Myron Aub discovers how to do mathematics without a computer.
I love this story. It’s one of Asimov’s more prescient tales, talking as it does of an age when everybody has a small computer to do arithmetic for them. In such a world, so bother knowing how to do it one’s self, or even understanding how it works? When I was younger, I was one of those who agreed with one critic that it didn’t seem likely that people would ever forget how to do arithmetic, but having seen my children struggle with their times tables when it really isn’t all that necessary to know them any more, one is tempted to follow the advice of one of Asimov’s essays and “Forget It!” Some parts of the story are ironically unbelievable (spaceships steered by people are cheaper and therefore more expendable than spaceships steered by computer), but Asimov is clearly being sarcastic here in a topsy-turvy fashion. This is a marvelous, unforgettable story.