The Territorial Imperatives of the Trumpeter Swan
February 24, 2010 1:17 PM   Subscribe

Be forewarned that somewhere, sometime, someplace, some enterprising young man who seems to know ten times what you do about computers is going to try to convince you that his program will make a jug of cider jump off the table and turn ducks' eggs into solid gold. Look this man straight in the eye and ask him for names of people who are successfully using his program. DO NOT, under any circumstances, bet him that he can't do it. There's no telling what someone might be able to make a computer do.

A journey through the whimsical computer manuals of the Franklin Ace.
posted by shakespeherian (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Are all the funny bits mangled Guys & Dolls quotes like this one?

"One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider. "
posted by dogwelder at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2010

From the article: This strikes me as a reference to Damon Runyon, whose stories of 1930s New York hustlers were the basis for the Broadway musical Guys and Dolls.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

My parents had a Franklin Ace something or other. My dad did taxes back in the 70s & 80s and sometime in the 80s he "computerized." My mom kept going with computers until she died in 2006. I sometimes think that she would have lived longer if she had not upgraded her Windows 95 to Windows ME. (Fortunately, I helped her into a sleek XP Professional--no matter my powers of persuasion, I never could get her to take a bite out of Apple.)
posted by beelzbubba at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's wonderful to have this whimsical and idiosyncratic vignette of this company at this burgeoning stage of the personal computer industry. I'd never learned a thing about them beyond their ill-fated stint as an Apple ][ clone manufacturer.
posted by polyhedron at 1:48 PM on February 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

My first computer was a Franklin Ace, a gift to me from my uncle when I was 11 or so. It literally changed my life, first having fun with it as a toy and then learning to program it in Basic, later assembler. The Apple ][ along with a copy of What's Where in the Apple ][, an annotated disassembly of the ROM, was the most amazing hands on introduction to hacking. It made me what I am.

The Ace wasn't a bad Apple ][+ clone. A few hundred bucks cheaper, nice keyboard, and a ROM hacked with lowercase support despite being more like a ][+ than a ][e. The only real problem I had with it is the clock ran a few kilohertz slower than a real Apple ][, which screwed up the timing on the software delay loops that let the Apple Cat 202 make DTMF tones to dial numbers. Well that and Apple ProDOS refused to boot on the Franklin Ace, but I figured out how to patch that. ProDOS was for nerds, anyway.
posted by Nelson at 2:11 PM on February 24, 2010

I don't know about Guys and Dolls, but isn't this in Grifters? I might be having false memory syndrome, but I'm almost certain.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:12 PM on February 24, 2010

I don't know about Guys and Dolls, but isn't this in Grifters? I might be having false memory syndrome, but I'm almost certain.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:12 PM on February 24 [+] [!]

It is most definitely in the film version of G&D starring Brando & Sinatra. I believe Brando (Sky Masterson) utters the line upon Sinatra (Nathan Detroit) trying to get him into a sucker's bet.
posted by beelzbubba at 3:47 PM on February 24, 2010

The double of this post reminded me of the classic WTF cover for FORTH Programming on the Atari, and while looking for that, I ran across this set of pulpified programming book covers.
posted by hattifattener at 11:53 AM on February 25, 2010

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