The Life and Times of Multivac

"The Life and Times of Multivac"
AuthorIsaac Asimov
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inThe New York Times Magazine
Publication typePeriodical
Media typePrint (Magazine, Hardback & Paperback)
Publication date5 January 1975
Preceded by"Key Item"
Followed by"Point of View"

"The Life and Times of Multivac" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. The story first appeared in the 5 January 1975 issue of The New York Times Magazine, and was reprinted in the collections The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories and The Best of Creative Computing in 1976. It is one of a loosely connected series of stories concerning a fictional supercomputer called Multivac. "The Life and Times of Multivac" was the first piece of fiction ever commissioned and published by The New York Times.[1]

Asimov's original title for the story was "Mathematical Games", but after the story appeared under the new title he decided he liked it. In his commentary on the story in The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories collection, Asimov stated, "More people came up to me over the next few weeks to tell me they had read that story than had ever been the case for any other story I had ever written."

Plot summary[]

When humanity begins to chafe under Multivac’s benevolent tyranny, one man takes matters into his own hands to destroy the great computer. By appearing to betray his fellow humans, he places himself in a position to permanently destroy Multivac. It is implied that it is not until completion of the act that he and his peers suddenly realize the enormity of their actions and the consequences it will have on humanity.


  1. ^ Asimov, I. In Joy Still Felt (Avon, 1980) page 694

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