Recent news about the threats to Comdex have reminded me of similar tales from the last years of Comdex’s precursor – the NCC (National Computer Conference), in the late 1980’s. I have fond memories of the May ’84 NCC, when I bought the first 128K Macintosh – complete with second 400K floppy and ImageWriter printer. It cost $2495 for the system, plus $495 each for the printer and floppy.

Anyway, I also remembered a humor piece I wrote 5 years ago for MacKiDo. There are some dated references, so I think it’s time to update it. Any references to real persons, institutions or phenomena are strictly satirical and do not necessarily represent my real-life opinion; also, my disclaimer of course applies. And if I inadvertently spared anybody, please tell me icon_wink.gif

There was a fire at <some huge computer conference>…

When it reached the main exhibition hall:

– The Windows 95 users asked the door guard to close all windows and restart the exhibition.

– The Windows 98 users loaded their installation CDROMs to look for a Windows Extinguisher Wizard™.

– The Windows NT users said the fire would probably be fixed in the next service pack.

– The Windows XP users were asked to reactivate their installation “due to hardware changes”.

– The Mac OS 9 users clicked on everything in sight to see if that would affect the fire somehow.

– The Mac OS X users were awed at the cool transparency effects displayed by the fire.

– The OS/2 users reminisced about the much more full-featured fire that burned down the OS/2 User’s Conference in 1994.

– The mainframe users pulled the “emergency stop” handle and waited for the field engineer to arrive.

– The former BeOS users commented on how their own fires had been much faster and more efficient.

– The Unix users tried connecting all the stands together with pipes to build a fire engine.

– The SCO users sniffed that the exhibition hall obviously wasn’t POSIX compliant.

– The Linux users searched the Internet looking for the hall’s source code so they could find out why it caught fire.

– The Amiga users decided there was no fire and went on doing whatever they were doing.

When the fire reached the developer’s hall:

– The C programmers started looking for a NULL pointer.

– The Delphi programmers sneered that this would never happen at a Delphi developer’s conference.

– The C++ programmers argued about which design pattern a Fire Engine template should follow, and whether the hall’s construction was fully ANSI-compliant or not.

– The Objective-C programmers tried to change the fire’s behavior, but fought on whether categories or poseAsClass: would be the best way.

– The Assembly Language programmers started to write a very detailed and optimised treatise about firefighting techniques.

– The ADA programmers alleged that the fire was not in their original specifications.

– The FORTRAN programmers began muttering about “COMMON something”.

– The COBOL programmers started prowling the hall and looking for Y2K bugs.

– The Visual Basic programmers asked the C programmers to write a “fire” module for them.

– The .NET programmers commented favorably on the fire’s fully-distributed architecture-independent implementation.

– The Java programmers attributed the fire to a faulty VM implementation.

– The Python programmers promptly set fire to another hall in a much more elegant way, with fewer lines of code.

– The Perl programmers blamed everything on a subtle fault in the implementation of regular expressions.

– The PHP programmers hacked the fire’s code to do syntax highlighting.

When the fire reached the press room:

– The ComputerWorld reporter wrote “Microsoft Fire(tm) takes the conference by storm”.

– The PC Magazine reporter wrote “Blazing 3-D effects herald a new era in computing”.

– John Dvorak wrote “Duh. Deadly dull conference, second-rate fire. Who do they think they’re kidding?”

– The Business Week reporter wrote “Apple’s market share is further reduced by conference fire”.

– The Wall Street Journal reporter wrote “High-tech stocks may burn in the near term”.

– The Washington Post reporter wrote “Fire may be a cyber-terrorist act”.

– The MacAddict reporter wrote “Bill Gates should have been here when the Main Hall collapsed”.

– The MacWorld reporter wrote “Steve Jobs takes the stage with unheard-of pyrotechnics”.