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"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson

Computer Humorist  
  A computer acquires the ability to tell original jokes.  

Mike (short for Mycroft Holmes) is the Lunar Authority mainframe computer.

MIke... was the weirdest mixture of unsophisticated baby and wise old man. No instincts (well, don't think he could have had), no inborn traits, no human rearing, no experience in human sense - and more stored data than a platoon of geniuses.

"Jokes?" he asked.

"Let's hear one."

"Why is a laser beam like goldfish?"

Mike knew about lasers but where would he have seen goldfish? Oh, he had undoubtedly seen flicks of them and, were I foolish enough to ask, could spew forth thousands of words. "I give up."

His lights rippled. "Because neither one can whistle."

I groaned. "Walked into that. Anyhow, you could probably rig a laser beam to whistle."

He answered quickly, "Yes. In response to an action program. Then it's not funny?"

"Oh, I didn't say that. Not half bad. Where did you hear it?"

"I made it up." Voice sounded shy.

"You did?"

"Yes. I took all the riddles I have, three thousand two hundred seven, and analyzed them. I used the result for random synthesis and that came out. Is it really funny?"

"Well... As funny as a riddle ever is. I've heard worse."

From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by GP Putnam in 1966
Additional resources -

Compare to the meson filter from The Jester (1951), by William Tenn.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
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