In Salvo 15 (Winter 2010), Richard W. Stevens offers “What Gandalf Systems Tell Us About Intelligent Design”:
I first saw Gandalf in 1974. No, not the wizard of The Lord of the Rings. This Gandalf was the colorful box attached to a PDP 11-40 computer, its lights blinking almost rhythmically amid a tangle of wires in the slightly dusty lab office. It had a label in faux Olde English lettering with that whimsical brand name.What was this device named Gandalf? It was a modem, an electronic machine that translates information from one symbolic form to another. A modem is a device that mod ulates (encodes) and demodulates (decodes). Modems allow computers to communicate with one another over telephone lines, cable connections, or wireless links.
The 1974 Gandalf modem converted digital data into tones to send over a telephone line, and also converted tone codes coming in via that line back into digital data. If your personal computer or e-phone connects via WiFi, then there are two modems involved to convey data over that connection.
In short, a modem is an encoder–decoder device. With a wink to J. R. R. Tolkien, let’s call any device that receives information, encodes it into symbols, and can receive the same kinds of symbols and convert them into information, a Gandalf system. And let’s consider this idea: the existence of a Gandalf system gives strong evidence of intelligent design. More here.