I'm looking for a vignette about von Neumann. My recollection is as follows but my google-fu is not bringing up anything.

von Neumann, having prodigious mathematical capacity even of the most mundane kind, could effortlessly interconvert between binary and decimal numbers — in his head!

His students were of course not thus endowed and struggled. One of them finally bit the bullet and wrote software that would do this.

JvN got angry and said (something like) :

Computers are super expensive equipment. And you use them for such mundane clerical affairs?! Under my (lab/supervision/whatever) this will not be allowed.

Clearly for JvN computers were meant for computing exclusively in the classical numerical sense.


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