“A Shaggy-Computer Story” / Memorable Fancies #729

     A patent application described the new machine in detail. 56 pages of text were provided, along with 443 schematics. An external HD drive appendix contained its operating system. In terms of the machine’s function, or what apps it could perhaps host, however, the patent application was phrased with such obfuscatory verbiage that any reader (or patent examiner) would conclude that what the machine would do really was unique and clearly worthy of a patent, even though they didn’t really understand anything more than how it could be built.

     The patent was granted. After a vigorous bidding war, the inventor licensed the patent to a trailing-edge firm whose ambition was to leapfrog to the cutting edge, metaphor notwithstanding. The firm set its engineers to design and build an actual machine to implement the schematics and, after two years and several millions in cost, they did.

     Proudly, the CEO flipped the “on” switch. Skeptics thought that nothing would happen, or that the machine would blow up. But something did happen, and it didn’t blow up. The operating system booted, and the machine halted after displaying a single message on its screen:

     “Thank you,” it read, “Thank you very much. Shutting down now.”



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     See you tomorrow! Whatever happens here, you won’t be expecting it.

09 At All Adventure front cover


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