Jerry Pournelle

Jerry Pournelle, (born August 7, 1933) is an American essayist, journalist and science fiction author who contributed many years to the computer magazine Byte. He is an avowed conservative; some of his critics describe him as "slightly to the right of Genghis Khan".

Pournelle was born Jeremia Eugene Pournelle in Shreveport, Louisiana. In the course of his education, he obtained advanced degrees in psychology, statistics, engineering, and political science, including two PhDs. He acquired political experience by serving as Executive Assistant to the Mayor and Director of Research for the City of Los Angeles, campaign manager for Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. (Rep.), and campaign manager for the third (successful) campaign for Mayor Sam Yorty (Dem.).

Pournelle was an intellectual protege of Russell Kirk (Kenneth Cole, Pournelle's mentor at the University of Washington, was co-founder with Kirk of Modern Age) and Stefan T. Possony with whom Pournelle wrote numerous publications including The Strategy of Technology, onetime textbook at USMA (West Point) and USAFA (Colorado Springs). His work in the aerospace industry including editing Project 75, a 1964 study of 1975 defense requirements. He worked in operations research at Boeing, Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division, and was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute.

His science fiction, much of it written in collaboration with Larry Niven, frequently has strong military themes. Several books center around a fictional mercenary infantry force known as Falkenberg's Legion.

He wrote the "Chaos Manor" column in the print version of Byte for many years, describing his experiences with various hardware and software configurations. He continues to write the column for the online version and international print editions of Byte. Since 2003, he also been contributing to the computer programming magazine Dr. Dobb's Journal.

Since 1998, Pournelle has maintained a daily blog, "View from Chaos Manor", which predates that term. He says he resists using blog because he considers it ugly and because he maintains his "View" is primarily a vehicle for writing rather than a collection of links.

In a 1997 article Norman Spinrad wrote that Pournelle had written the SDI portion of Ronald Reagan's State of the Union Address, as part of a plan to use SDI to get more money for space exploration, exploiting the larger defence budget. [1] ( Pournelle wrote in response that while the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy "wrote parts of Reagan's 1983 SDI speech, and provided much of the background for the policy, we certainly did not write the speech ... We were not trying to boost space, we were trying to win the Cold War". [2] ( . The Council's first report [1980] became the transition team policy paper on space for the incoming Reagan administration. The third report was certainly quoted in the Reagan "Star Wars" speech.

Pournelle opposed both Gulf Wars, maintaining that the money would be better spent developing energy technologies for the United States. He is quoted as saying "with what we spent in Iraq we could build nuclear power plants and space solar power satellites and tell the Arabs to drink their oil." His web site is critical of the Iraq War, but demands support of troops committed there. "Once you send the troops in, you have no choice but to give them what they need until you bring them home."

Pournelle is also known for his Pournelle Chart, a 2-dimensional coordinate system used to distinguish political ideologies. It is similar to the Nolan chart, except that the X axis refers to your feelings toward state and centralised government (farthest right being state worship, farthest left being the idea of a state as the "ultimate evil"), and the Y axis refers to your belief that all problems in society have rational solutions. (top being complete confidence in planning, bottom being its total lack).





  • Stability and national security (Air Force Directorate of Doctrines, Concepts and Objectives) (1968)
  • The Strategy of Technology with Stephan T. Possony, Ph.D. and Francis X. Kane, Ph.D. (1970) available at [3] (
  • A Step Farther Out (1981)
  • The users guide to small computers (1984)
  • Mutually Assured Survival (1984)
  • Adventures in Microland {1985)
  • Guide to Disc Operating System and Easy Computing (1989)
  • Pournelle's PC Communications Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity With a Modem with Michael Banks (1992)
  • Jerry Pournelle's Guide to DOS and Easy Computing: DOS over Easy (1992)
  • Jerry Pournelle's Windows With an Attitude (1995)
  • PC Hardware: The Definitive Guide (2003) with Bob Thompson
  • 1001 Computer Words You Need to Know (2004)




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