Man Bytes Dog

Info-Mac discussion from 1984 - 2002.
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Man Bytes Dog

Post by Info-Mac » August 27th, 1984, 11:18 pm

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From: [email protected] (info-mac)
Subject: Man Bytes Dog
Date: Tue, 3-Jul-84 19:12:07 EDT
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Posted: Tue Jul 3 19:12:07 1984
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From: [email protected]
2-Jul-84 1532 FY From the New Yorker: Man, Bytes, Dog :-)

>From the New Yorker
July 2, 1984


Many people have asked me about the Cairn Terrier. How about memory, they
want to know. Is it IBM-compatible? Why didn't I get the IBM itself, or a
Kaypro, Compaq, or Macintosh? I think the best way to answer these
questions is to look at th Macintosh and the Cairn head on. I almost did
buy the Macintosh. It has terrific graphics, good word-processing
capabilities, and the mouse. But in the end I decided on the Cairn, and I
think I made the right decision.

Let's start out with the basics:

Weight (without printer): 20lbs.
Memory (RAM): 128K
Price (with printer): $3,090

Cairn Terrier:
Weight (without printer): 14lbs.
Memory (RAM): Some
Price (without printer): $250

Just on the basis of price and weight, the choice is obvious. Another plus
is that the Cairn Terrier comes in one unit. No printer is necessary, or
useful. And--this was a big attraction to me--there is no user's manual.

Here are some of the other qualities I found put the Cairn out ahead of the

PORTABILITY: To give you a better idea of size, Toto in "The Wizard of Oz"
was a Cairn Terrier. So you can see that if the young Judy Garland was able
to carry Toto around in that little picnic basket, you will have no trouble
at all moving your Cairn from place to place. For short trips it will move
under its own power. The Macintosh will not.

RELIABILITY: In five to ten years, I am sure, the Macintosh will be
superseded by a new model, like the Delicious or the Granny Smith. The
Cairn Terrier, on the other hand, has held its share of the market with only
minor modifications for hundreds of years. In the short term, Cairns seldom
require servicing, apart from shots and the odd worming, and most function
without interruption during electric storms.

COMPATIBILITY: Cairn Terriers get along with everyone. And for
communications with any other dog, of any breed, within a radius of three
miles, no additional software is necessary. All dogs share a common
operating system.

SOFTWARE: The Cairn will run three standard programs, SIT, COME, and NO,
and whatever else you create. It is true that, being a microcanine, the
Cairn is limited here, but it does load the programs simultaneously. No
disk drives. No tapes.

Admittedly, these are peripheral advantages. The real comparison has to be
on the basis of capabilities. What can the Macintosh and the Cairn do?
Let's start on the Macintosh's turf--income-tax preparation, recipe storage,
graphics, and astrophysics problems:

| Taxes Recipes Graphics Astrophysics |
| Macintosh yes yes yes yes |
| Cairn no no no no |

At first glance it looks bad for the Cairn. But it's important to look
beneath the surface with this kind of chart. If you yourself are leaning
toward the Macintosh, ask yourself these questions: Do you want to do your
own income taxes? Do you want to type all your recipes into a computer? In
your graph, what would you put on the $x$ axis? The $y$ axis? Do you have
any astrophysics problems you want solved?

Then consider the Cairn's specialties: playing fetch and tug-of-war, licking
your face, and chasing foxes out of rock cairns (eponymously). Note that no
software is necessary. All these functions are part of the operating system.

| Fetch Tug-of-War Face Foxes |
| Cairn yes yes yes yes |
| Macintosh no no no no |

Another point to keep in mind is that computers, even the Macintosh, only do
what you tell them to do. Cairns perform their functions all on their own.
Here are some of the additional capabilities that I discovered once I got
the Cairn home and house-broken:

WORD PROCESSING: Remarkably, the Cairn seems to understand every word I say.
He has a nice way of pricking up his ears at words like "out" and "ball." He
also has highly tuned voice-recognition.

EDUCATION: The Cairn provides children with hands-on experience at an early
age, contribution to social interaction, crawling ability, and language
skills. At age one, my daughter could say "Sit," "Come," and "No."

CLEANING: This function was a pleasant surprise. But of course cleaning up
around the cave is one of the reasons dogs were developed in the first
place. Users with young (below age two) children will still find this
function useful. The Cairn Terrier cleans the floor, spoons, bib, and baby,
and has the unerring ability to distinguish strained peas from ears, nose,
and fingers.

PSYCHOTHERAPY: Hear the Cairn really shines. And remember, therapy is
something that computers have tried. There is a program that makes the
computer ask you questions when you tell it your problems. You say "I'm
afraid of foxes." The computer says, "You're afraid of foxes?"

The Cairn won't give you that kind of echo. Like Freudian analysts, Cairns
are mercifully silent; unlike Freudians, they are infinitely sympathetic.
I've found that the Cairn will share, in a nonjudgmental fashion,
disappointments, joys, and frustrations. And you don't have to know BASIC.

This last capability is related to the Cairn's strongest point, which was
the final deciding factor in my decision against the
Macintosh--user-friendliness. On this criterion, there is simply no
comparison. The Cairn Terrier is the essence of user-friendliness. It has
fur, it doesn't flicker when you look at it, and it wags its tail.

-- James Gorman