Early citation of Murphy's Law

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Fri Jun 11 06:14:26 UTC 1999


A pair of stray dogs got loose in our back yard, and one of them barked
merrily as it made a mess out of some recently planted trees.  I went
out there, picked up one of the destroyed trees, and threw it at the
dogs to get them out of our yard.

I wanted to scare them, not hurt them, but I was so mad I overthrew and
actually hit one of the dogs.  He let out a yip as the pair lit out for
somebody else's yard.

Imagine my embarassment when I recognized, from the sound of his yip,
that I had hit the wrong one.

I was treeing up the wrong bark.

Somehow, I think you're doing something like that in trying to find an
early citation of "Murphy's Law" in  old issues of DESERT WINGS.  I
wouldn't think of suggesting that you stop following that trail,
however. I appreciate the other stuff you turn up on such expeditions.
You do so well at finding interesting things you weren't looking for
that I wonder if you ran across one of the Princes of Serendip up at

I still stand by my past statement: look for Murphy's Law in the
magazine ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, late 1940s or early 1950s. (The
title changed to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FACT/FICTION, or some such, in the
1950s.)  Until the mid 1950s, ASF was published by Street and Smith
Publications, I think.

I know you came up with an ASF story title that said something about
Murphy's Law, but my memory places an earlier reference in either an
editorial or an article.

I have a much vaguer impression that the author of the item in question
had to be either John W. Campbell, Jr. (the editor in that epoch) or
Theodore Sturgeon.

Watch out, though, when somebody stretches memory to say "it had to be.
. . . " That's a pretty good sign that the report is NOT a direct
memory; it's an attempt to fill the hole with a reconstruction.

--  mike salovesh             <salovesh at niu.edu>        PEACE !!!

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