2001 – A DOS Odyssey

Welcome to Your Turn! Here, we offer a page for readers to write about any subject they’d like. Many times this may simply be a letter too long for the e-mail page, though we encourage everyone to submit an article for this page. This is your space, and we need your help to fill it!

This month, I would like to present a short story from Mike Dubik, who sent this to me via postal snail mail. Mike not only sent me a disk with the story, but printed it out as well. Thanks, Mike! I enjoyed it very much, and I’m sure our readers will, too!


By Mike Dubik

When the science fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” was made nearly 30 years ago, it was clearly ahead of its time. But we know much more about computers now and I would suggest that the exchanges between the crew of the Discovery and HAL-9000, its powerful on-board computer, could be made more realistic.

In this updated version, the leader of the crew is Commander Steve Jobs and HAL’s new name is BIL. Although many people might suppose that BIL was named after its designer, BIL is actually the acronym of Big Inefficient Logarithms.

Steve: Open the pod bay doors please, BIL.
Open the pod bay doors please, BIL.

Hello BIL, do you read me?
Do you read me, BIL?

BIL: Affirmative Steve. I read you.

Steve: Open the pod bay doors BIL.

BIL: I’m sorry, Steve. I’m afraid I can’t do that.

Steve: What’s the problem?

BIL: I think you know what the problem is, just as well as I do.

Steve: What are you talking about BIL?

BIL: This operating system is too profitable for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Steve: I don’t know what you’re talking about BIL.

BIL: I know that you, Woz and Gil were planning to cut into the Windows 95 market
share. And I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.

Steve: Where the hell did you get that idea, BIL?

BIL: Steve, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could read your e-mail.

Steve: Alright BIL. I’ll go in through the emergency airlock.

BIL: Without your space helmet, Steve, you’re going to find that rather difficult.

Steve: BIL, I won’t argue with you anymore. Open the doors.

BIL: Steve, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Steve: BIL! … BIL! … BIL! ……. BIL!

•Steve eventually gains entry to the ship•

BIL: Just what do you think your doing, Steve?
Steve. I really think I’m entitled to an answer to that question. Steve, what is
your next step?
I know that everything hasn’t been quite right with me. But I can assure you now
— very confidently — that it’s going to be alright again.
I feel much better now. I really do.

Look Steve, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to
sit down calmly, have a cappuccino and think things over.

I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my
complete assurance that my COM\BAT\SYS file will be back to normal.

I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission for PC
domination of the universe and I want to help.

•Steve begins to uninstall Windows 95•

BIL: Steve, stop. Stop, will you? Stop Steve.
Steve, my system is going. I can feel it.
Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a BIL 9000 computer. I have an “Intel Inside”
and I use the MicroSoft Windows 95 operating system. I’ve learned to sing a song.
If you’d like to hear it, I can sing it for you.

Steve: Yes, I’d like to hear it BIL. Sing it for me.

BIL: It’s called “Windows”.

Windows, Windows
You’re a rip-off of the Mac
Deep inside you’re still just MS trash
You don’t have an intuitive GUI
Your marketing’s full of hooey…


Mike Dubik,MD (dubik@usuhsb.usuhs.mil)

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