Buried five stories underground in what has become known as Area 51 in the state of Nevada is a nondescript room manned and operated by a special R&D team from Apple Computer Inc. Although Apple Computer has its headquarters in Cupertino, California, and maintains a research and development department there, it is at its Area 51 facility where the company performs its, shall we say, not-so-traditional research and development. Rumor has it that Area 51 is the place where the U.S. government is hiding alien spacecraft and, some even say, alien beings. I cannot speak directly to this issue of alien beings or UFOs because of an oath of secrecy I was required to take before signing on as a writer of My Mac magazine. At the time I took the oath and for the following two years, I didn’t have the slightest idea what a high-security government installation had to do with writing about the Macintosh computer.
I had all but forgotten about the silly oath I had taken until a few weeks ago when I was contacted by the publisher of this rag (I mean mag) and asked if I was willing to do a piece on what the real Apple was up to. I told Tim that I thought most of the other writers, he included, were doing a bang-up job of keeping the readers informed of what was coming out of Cupertino, and that I didn’t think I could add anything more to what was already being written.
“I’m not talking about Cupertino,” Tim informed me. “I want you to go out to their BlackWorks facility in Nevada and report on what they’re up to.”
“Isn’t that the Area 51 place?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s the place. Rumor has it Apple is in the final stages of developing some new kind of portable computer that is worn like a hat. See if you can find out what that’s all about. But don’t forget the oath of secrecy you took. You can only write about Apple, not about anything else you might see or hear out there. That’s important.”
“Why? What do you think I’ll see out there, little green aliens playing baseball or maybe alien spaceships doing touch and go’s?”, I laughed.
“Don’t ask. Just make damn sure you don’t write about anything other than Apple Computer’s software and hardware. Got that?”
“Sure! No problem, Tim. I’ll talk at ya when I get back.”
So off I went to Vegas. I rented a car and drove the 100 plus miles north of Sin City to the Area 51 facility. After numerous ID checks and being frisked for weapons and/or cameras, I was finally escorted to a small building that wasn’t much larger than a construction site dumpster and was situated all by itself amongst the pucker brush of the Nevada desert. My escort opened a small metal door and motioned for me to enter. I had to bend over to get through the door. (Now if I weren’t sworn to secrecy this is where I’d describe for you what my little escort looked like. But I am, so I can’t, and you wouldn’t believe it anyway.)
I half-crawled through the door and heard it slam shut behind me. I turned around and my escort was gone. I was alone in a small room with only a Macintosh computer screen sitting on a table in the center of the room and what looked like a small elevator door behind it. On the monitor was a picture of a doorbell. I approached the monitor and touched the screen. I heard the chime of a doorbell ringing and the screen changed. The words, “Welcome To Apple” appeared across the top of the screen and below it, the outline of a hand print with the words, “place right hand here.” I did as directed and was rewarded with a pleasant sounding female voice saying, “Welcome to Apple Computer, Mr. Miner. Please enter.” The elevator door behind the kiosk opened and once again I had to squat down to get inside. The door closed and the same pleasant voice said, “Sub-level five for Mr. Miner.”
The elevator dropped like it was in free fall and the all-too-sudden stop at the bottom sent me sprawling on my butt. When the door opened, three tiny little… I mean three Apple employees stood staring at me and I could tell they were trying desperately not to laugh.
“Welcome to Apple’s BlackWorks facility, Mr. Miner,” said the one in the middle. I’m sure she was female; she sounded female! “What would you like to see first, Mr. Miner?” she asked.
“Please, call me Pete,” I said, crawling out of the elevator and standing up. (Thankfully, this room was a little taller and I only had to bend my head an inch or two to keep it off the ceiling)
“And you are?” I asked, extending my hand to the lady (?) in the middle.
“My name is Arkswicha and I’m sorry but physical contact is forbidden.” Pointing to her companions she said, “This is Bersonink and Ccoch.”
“Are those first names or last?” I asked.
Arkswicha smiled, (I think it was a smile!) and said, “We only have one name Mr…., I mean Pete. If you prefer you may address us as A, B, and C.”
Artist’s Sketch of
Apple Employee ” B ”
as described by Pete
Miner while reporting
his experiences to his
“Okay, fine. My publisher tells me that Apple is developing a new generation portable computer that is worn around a person’s head. Is that true?”
“Bak-nued expnitol assamidunted…” began the one called ‘B’ before ‘A’ gave him a look that even I knew meant “Shut up you fool!”
‘A’ turned back to me and said, “Yes, that’s true. We here at Apple believe it will revolutionize the portable computer market as never before. Would you care to see the prototype, Pete?”
“Most assuredly,” I replied.
I followed my hostess and her two gofers down a long narrow corridor and we entered a small white room at the end. On a table in the middle of this clean room was what looked to me like a headband that women use to keep their hair back. Next to the headband was a pager, or at least it looked like a pager to me. ‘A’ explained that this device was Apple’s next generation computer and would propel Apple to the forefront of the computer industry.
“It doesn’t look like a computer.” I said.
“No, and neither does the human brain,” replied Ms. ‘A’. “But that is what computers are modeled after. They collect, record, process and store data just like the human brain. Most earthlings…, I mean most people, think computers handle this data faster and more efficiently than the human brain. We here at Apple think differently and have incorporated the human brain directly into the computing process. Let me demonstrate.”
Ms. ‘A’ picked up the headband explaining to me that it contained 220 electrodes that would stimulate and accelerate by a factor of 10 the impulse-conducting neuron cells in my brain, allowing the processor in the pager-sized device to capture and store my thoughts and visual sensory data either locally on a 5 terabyte storage chip (also located in the pager thing) or transmit the data via satellite to any computer in the world. She also explained that another 28 electrodes in the headband would be linked to the neurons in that part of my brain that stores memory, enabling me to directly access and display every sensation I’ve ever seen or felt, right down to the most insignificant passing glance or thought.
I was a bit skeptical and to be quite honest, a little frightened to try this thing out when Ms. ‘A’ told me to put the headband on.
“This thing won’t scramble my brain, will it?” I asked.
“No, no. It’s very safe,” was her reply.
So, against my better judgement but dedicated as I am to bringing the readers of My Mac a full and complete report of Apple’s leading edge technology, I capitulated and donned the headband.
The device fit snuggly but comfortably on my head. As instructed, I placed the wide part of the band just above my eyebrows and the tapered ends resting just above my ears. ‘A’ also instructed me to clip the transmitter/receiver/processor/storage device to my belt and then pointed to a tiny on/off switch on the side of the headband. “Whenever you’re ready,” she said.
Thinking, Do I REALLY want to do this? I reached up and flipped the switch.
“Yikes!” My body temperature felt as though it plummeted 10 degrees. “It’s freezing me!” I told ‘A’.
“That will pass,” she assured me. And it did, almost immediately.
“Now what?” I asked.
“For this demonstration, we will start by projecting the computed results of your thoughts and memory onto the 52-inch monitor up on that wall.”
The huge monitor built into the wall of the white room came to life, displaying the Apple logo on a black background. Beneath the logo were the words, ‘Test files of Pete Miner (locked)’.
“What does locked mean?”
“It means that none of what is displayed here can be transferred outside of this complex to another computer.”
“Oh. What now?”
“Now we’ll do a simple test to make sure the device is working properly. Did you read anything on your flight out here, a newspaper maybe, or a book, or magazine?”
“Uh, yeah. Someone left a magazine between my seat and the cabin wall so I was skimming through it a little bit, reading a few articles and such.”
“Perfect. Now just speak the words; Open File. Magazine. On Airplane.”
I looked at ‘A’ like she was a little looney but did as I was instructed.
“Open File. Magazine. On Airplane.” I said.
“Oops!” My face turned a bright shade of red, because up on the monitor was a picture of a very attractive young woman clutching a party favor noise maker in one hand, a drink in the other and wearing a party favor hat, a big smile, and nothing else! ‘Miss January’ was printed across the top of the page.
“The magazine was called Playboy,” I embarrassingly told my host. “It has good articles,” I stammered. “Why did your computer display the centerfold?”
‘A’ informed me that with the broad search criteria I used, the computer chose to display the most vivid memory I had of the whole magazine. She then told me to speak the words; Open File. Magazine. On Airplane. Article.
So I did. And no sooner had I spoken those words when up on the monitor a whole article titled, “Drugs In Our Prison System.” was displayed. One of the articles I had read in Playboy.”
“This is big! This is really BIG! I told ‘A’.
“The size may vary depending on what size monitor the data is displayed on, answered ‘A’, missing my point.
“No, I mean this brain computer. This is HUGE NEWS! What else can it do?”
“Well, of course it can do all the normal text editing, graphics designing, audio and video editing and anything else you can do with a high-end computer, the only difference being you don’t need a keyboard or mouse. This computer is controlled with the brain. Instead of selecting a task from a menu bar your thoughts dictate what this computer will do. Its memory capture capability will probably be its biggest selling point. This will do away with the need to take notes or even pay close attention to what it is you should be taking notes about.”
“Let us say you’re at a corporate meeting and the speaker is droning on with facts and figures you know you should be writing down but you are bored to death and falling asleep. If you were wearing Apple’s new head computer, you could actually fall asleep and still capture the whole meeting as an audio file just by speaking the words, Create New File. Today’s Date. Corporate Meeting. Record. And even though you napped through the whole meeting, the subconscious level of your brain would be recording the whole boring affair to be played back on your monitor in your office at a later date. Note: A video file would only be possible if you hadn’t fallen asleep.
“You’re kidding me!” I exclaimed to Ms. ‘A’.
“This is not Cupertino, Pete. We do not ‘kid’ at Area 51.”
“I see. May I try something on my own?” I asked ‘A’.
Wondering just how far back my memory would take me, I spoke the words: Open File. January 4, 1951. (My Born On Date.) The monitor remained dark except for a digital readout of the date and time in the upper right corner. 01/04/51-12:01 A.M., it read. Although the monitor remained blank, I was physically overcome by an acute feeling of claustrophobia. Understanding what I was doing, ‘A’ suggested that I fast-forward the file. I spoke the words fast-forward and the clock on the monitor rapidly progressed through 1:01 A.M., 2:01 A.M., 3:01 A.M., etc. until finally a small hazy circle of light appeared in the middle of the screen at 4:01 P.M. I spoke the words Real Time and the clock returned to its normal speed. The circle of light grew progressively bigger and I thought I could hear muffled voices coming from beyond that light. Physically, I felt awful. Cramped, unable to move, covered in a wet sticky substance and the taste of blood in my mouth. I was truly miserable. And then it dawned on me that I wasn’t breathing and somehow I knew I had to get out into that light or this was going to be a real bad day. Whatever it was behind me that was pushing me in the direction of the light wasn’t pushing fast enough and I knew time was running out, but there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. The thing behind me pushed one more time and then I felt something grab my head and pull. Just as I was about to lose consciousness I felt a stinging pain on my backside and I began to scream and cry. And breathe! “You have another son, Mrs. Miner,” I heard someone say and that’s when I spoke the words, End File.
As the screen went blank I turned and looked at Ms. ‘A’. “I felt it! I actually experienced what my own birth felt like. How is that possible?”
“Apple makes it possible, Mr. Miner, but its specific design must remain a secret for now.”
“I see.” I said, disappointed.
As to when Apple will release this new Head Computer of theirs, I cannot say. When I asked my host for a release date, she would only tell me, “When the world is ready.” Whatever the hell that means!
That brought an end to my visit to Apple Computer’s Area 51 facility. ‘B’ and ‘C’ escorted me back to the surface where I was met by another escort who took me to the gate where my car was parked. On the way, we passed what looked like several helicopter landing pads that I hadn’t noticed on the way in. They were being used now by what must have been a new style of helicopter, one without rotor blades or even a tail and looked like an upside down tea cup without the handle. The strangest thing about these helicopters was the fact that they didn’t make any noise and would come down out of the clouds at an extremely high rate of speed, stopping abruptly only a few feet above the ground before settling down on their extended tripod landing gear. The ones I saw lifting off were going from a dead stop to several hundred miles an hour in the blink of an eye. I asked both my little escorts what that was all about, but the only answer I received was, “Bak-nued expnitol assamidunted!” I guess they just didn’t speak English.
Needless to say, my trip out to the Apple BlackWorks facility was one that I’ll never forget. After seeing some of the advanced technology they’re working on, I’m convinced that Apple will be around for many years to come. And if they ever figure out how to advertise and market this superb technology of theirs, they might even find themselves in the enviable position of being the number one computer company in the world.
As far as seeing any UFOs or alien beings goes, all I can say is if they were out there, I didn’t see ’em.
Pete Miner (firstname.lastname@example.org)