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 into Bits. He created a multitude of zeros, for zeros were all there were.
On the Second day God toyed with the Bytes, and organized some of them into groups, to which He said, "You shall be called Words, for from Bytes you came, and of Bytes are you composed."
On the Third day God said (to whom God was talking 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 smokey mass. God saw the steaming heap, that it was good, and was pleased, and said to it, "You shall be called Hardware, a home for My Words and Bytes and Bits, and as you are the very first of your kind I shall call you CPU."
And God turned, and with a flick of His wrist spewed forth tape drives ("For you shall serve as a temporary home for My words..."), discs, paper tape, terminals, on- line printers, entire remote 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 residing statically on an infinite variety of media. But He was not pleased. "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 in motion.
"You," said He to the intangible breath now coursing through His hardware, "I shall call software, for..." and so on, and so forth.
And He continued, "You are the first, the best, the most perfect and omnipotent software." And divided the software into many parts; into utilities, compilers, system libraries and His favorite, most privilieged 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 calenders, pictures of the Mona Lisa, and witty little computer accounts of The Creation. And with a terminal at His throne, He didn't have to travel halfway to Hell to access His system.
He called His creation "Imperatatum Byte Magnamus" (or "IBM" for short).
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 the CPU and virtual memory, the Author of Fortran - 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 lonely for a little Bit."
And God rested, chuckling at His own little 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 I.B.M.
After a hard day's work on a hot terminal - during which man was quitely familiarizing himself with the system documentation - God called it a day ("You I shall call day..." and so forth) and went to sleep.
On the Seventh day - so tired was He from 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 him 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 existence, for that matter), and disdainfully flung man's notebook from the nightstand. The book fell open to an important-looking page marked "WARNING" in bold letters.
Now, woman was possessed of insatiable curiosity. God - we must assume - had been entirely familiar with contempary 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: WARNING: "You I have created to matintatin application programs and to operate My beloved I.B.M. You may partake of My utilities, My Fortran, My files and tapes and flowcharts. But with My operating system thou shalt not tamper, for to the user it giveth unlimited MASTER MODE powers..."
Woman - being as greedy as 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 him the resolve to win for himself all the privileges 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 to work the next day, intent on breaching the operating system. He needled, he patched, he disguised clever little traps in his programs which - for tantalyzingly 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 'til very late. So pleased was he - and so sure that the coming day would reward him with total control of God's own system - that he whistled all the way home, and when he got there snuck into the bedroom and gave woman a 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 lept. It was his operating system now, not God's. For a moment he stood stunned with the impact of his move. Then - with a self-assurance that only novice programmers can truly appreciate - he seated himself at the master console, and pushed the attention key. His hands trembling with excitement, he began to type "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 I.B.M., 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 perhaps 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 type 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 - I.B.M..
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