In the beginning, all was void, with the spirit of God
brooding over the dark vapors.
Then God said: LET THERE BE BYTE, and there was byte. God
saw the byte, and was pleased with it, and divided the byte in
bits. He created a multitude of similar bytes, all identical in
their ethereal perfection, and all containing zeros, for zeros
were all there were.
On the second day God toyed with the bytes, and organized
them into groups to which he said: YOU SHALL BE CALLED WORDS, FOR
FROM BYTES YOU CAME AND OF BYTES YOU ARE COMPOSED.
And God saw the words, that they were good and was pleased.
On the third day God said (to whom God was talking has never has
never been ascertained or even questioned): I HAVE WORDS, MADE UP
OF BYTES, MADE UP OF BITS, BUT SOMETHING’S MISSING.
So God scraped up a lump of clay, squeezed it tightly in his
mighty hands, and flung it against the sky, where it solidified
into a smoky mass. God saw the steaming heap, that it was good
and said to it: YOU SHALL BE CALLED HARDWARE, A HOME FOR MY BYTES
AND BITS, AND AS YOU ARE THE VERY FIRST OF YOUR KIND I SHALL CALL
And God turned, and with a flick of his wrist spew forth
tape drives (FOR YOU SHALL BE TEMPORARILY A HOME FOR MY WORDS...),
stations, whole teleprocessing installations.
And God saw all this sparkling in the heavens, that it was
good and he was pleased.
Having done all this, God rested.
On the fourth day, God reviewed all that he had done. He saw
his bits and his bytes statistically on an infinite variety of
media. But he was not satisfied. SOMETHING’S MISSING, said he,
I NEED TO ANIMATE MY TREASURED BYTES TO GIVE THEM LIFE.
So God leaned back, touched a soiled hand to his mighty
brow, and with one single, all-powerful thought set his hardware
YOU said he to the intangible breath now coursing through
his hardware, I SHALL CALL SOFTWARE, FOR ...(so on, and so
And he continued: YOU ARE THE FIRST, THE BEST, THE MOST
PERFECT AND OMNIPOTENT SOFTWARE. And God divided the software in
many parts, into utilities,compilers, system libraries and his
favorite, most privileadged and beloved operating system.
God was pleased, so he rested.
On the fifth day, God again surveyed all that he had done,
and was filled with joy. He found that with his creation he could
determine the value of pi to ten thousand digits. He found that
he could produce flowcharts of his beloved operating system, and
these he posted by his throne. He discovered that he could run
off Snoopy calendars, pictures of Mona Lisa, and witty little
computer accounts of creation. And with at terminal at his
throne, he didn’t have to travel halfway to hell to access his
He called his creation IMPERATUM BYTE MAGNAMUS (or IBM for
But all was not well. God’s beloved system was so large, so
complex, that even the mighty God - maker of heavens and earth
(but that’s another story), the builder of cpu and virtual
memory, the author of fortran - even that God was hard-pressed to
keep up on how everything worked.
So God said I’LL MAKE ME A MAN.
And he did, and to the man he said YOU SHALL BE CALLED
(logically enough) "MAN" AND TO YOU SHALL FALL THE RESPONSIBILITY
OF MAINTAINING ALL THAT I HAVE DONE.
And to keep Man happy after-hours, God gave him Woman,
saying to Man FOR I KNOW THAT EVEN BYTES GET HUNGRY FOR A LITTLE
And God rested, chuckling at his own play on words.
On the sixth day, God mounted his throne, logged onto his
terminal, and engaged in a full day of uninterrupted 1-second
turnaround. He saw all that he had done, that it was good. He was
pleased that from his first byte he had created such a wonderful
and extensive toy. He created file after file, he performed
advanced and impressive on-line data base updates, he wrote a
faster and more extensive fortran compiler, and in general
rejoiced in the perfection of his IBM.
After a hard day’s work on a hot terminal - during which Man
was quietly familiarizing himself with the system documentation -
God called it a day (YOU I SHALL CALL DAY... and so forth and so
On the seventh day - so tired was he form the week’s labors
- God slept all day. What transpired on that crucial seventh day
is recounted in THE FALL OF MAN...
THE FALL OF MAN
Late in the sixth day of creation, Woman called Man at work
and begged him to come home, as dinner was getting cold. Man
grudgingly consented, but brought home with him a copy of the
system documentation to study. After dinner, Woman cooed some
suggestive little sighs and slipped invitingly into bed. Man
followed, but - being beat after a hard day at the office - fell
straight to sleep.
Woman had an indescribable inner feeling that this was not
how things should be on their first night in bed (or in
existance, for that matter), and disdainfully flung Man’s
notebook from the night stand. The book fell open to an
important-looking page marked WARNING in bold red letters. Now,
Woman was possessed of insatiable curiosity. God - we must assume
- been entirely familiar with contemporary Greek writings on the
subject, particularly with the escapades of a wayward feminist
named Pandora. At any rate, Woman picked up the book, and read:
W A R N I N G !
You I have created to maintain application programs and
to operate my beloved IBM. You may partake of my
utilities, my fortran, my files and tapes and
flowcharters. But with my operating system thou shalt
not tamper, for to the user it giveth unlimited master
Woman - being as greedy an she was beautiful - immediately
woke Man. She derided him for his sheepishness, for his lack of
initiative, for his cowering before a silly machine. She filled
his mind with thoughts of power and greed, and instilled in the
resolve to win for himself all the priviledges of the operating
system. Besides, reasoned Woman, as boss Man won’t come home dead
tired, and might be worth something after dinner...
So Man returned the next day, intent on breaching the
operating system. He needled, he patched, he disguised clever
little traps in his programs which - for tantalizingly brief
periods of time - slipped into master mode. By the end of the
seventh day Man was so close to mastering the operating system
that he didn’t go home till very late.
So pleased was he - that the coming day would reward him
with total control of God’s own operating system - that he
whistled all the way home, and when he got there, he snuck into
the bedroom and gave Woman pleasant surprise...
Early on the eighth day, Man did it. God was on the terminal
early, playing blackjack with his computer. So Man was able to
submit his carefully-prepared batch job without being noticed.
The system burped, God’s terminal blinked once, but then all was
normal. Man’s heart leapt. It was his operating system now, not
God’s. For a moment he stood stunned with the impact of his move.
Then, with the self-assurance that only novice programmers can
truly understand. He hit the attention key. His hands trembling
with excitement, he began to DELETE G-O-D.
Just as he was about to hit the carriage return - and with
the system $500 ahead in God’s blackjack game (God holding 20 for
a thousand dollar pot) - the system crashed.
God was furious. YOU IGNORED MY WARNING, said he to Man, as
Woman wailed pathetically that she had had nothing to do with it
YOU VIOLATED MY BELOVED SYSTEM, AND DARED THINK THAT YOU COULD
BECOME AS ONE WITH GOD.
He waved Man disdainfully from his sight. He then reached
into his IBM, took a handful of core, mutilated it a little, and
flung it after Man. GO said he to the slice of core, AND MULTIPLY
INTO A HOST OF INFERIOR SYSTEMS, EACH MORE PROSTITUTED AND
GLITCH-FILLED THAN THE LAST. AND IF MAN’S TIME IS WASTED
DEBUGGING INFERIOR SYSTEMS I WON’T BE BOTHERED BY HIM.
And that - according to the book of byte - is why the world
consists of two types of computers: IBM, and all the rest.
And so it is that certain individuals are born to serve
God’s favorite IBM, while others are condemned to suffer the
damnation of amateur OTHER computer companies. But if you’re very
good, and if you’re honest and trustworthy and like to work
twenty hours a day without material reward, then you may well
hope that one day you will be selected to move up through Xerox,
to Burroughs, to Honeywell, to Univac, to that great system in
the sky whose initials inspire men to this very day - IBM.