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"[Science fiction] is the one literary medium left in which we have a free hand. We can do any damn thing we please."
- Alfred Bester

Computers Improve Computers  
  The idea that it will be possible for computers to design more advanced computers.  

The story is set in a future in which human beings have had computers for so long that they have forgotten how to do simple arithmetic.

The President considered that. He said, "... in practice, how can anyone know how a computer works?"

Brant laughed genially. "Well, Mr. President, I asked the same question. It seems that at one time computers were designed directly by human beings. Those were simple computers, of course, this being before the time of the rational use of computers to design more advanced computers had been established.

From The Feeling of Power, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Worlds of Science Fiction in 1958
Additional resources -

This is an early reference to this idea in science fiction. It's even more intriguing when you consider that this is the basis for the idea of a technological Singularity, which suggests that if computers were allowed to design better computers, then we would eventually have computers that transcended human intelligence completely.

Compare to the Games Machine from van Vogt's 1945 novel The world of Null-A and the Vulcan 3 computer from Philip K. Dick's 1960 novel Vulcan's Hammer.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Feeling of Power
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to The Feeling of Power
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

Computers Improve Computers-related news articles:
  - Software Learns To Design Software

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