When Apple was prototyping their first Power Macs in 1993-1994, the computers had (like all products under development by big computer companies) code names instead of the final (marketing department) names. Just as Microsoft called Windows 95 "Chicago" while it was being developed, Apple referred to the Power Macintosh 7100/66 as "Carl Sagan". (Another was "Darwin".) The esteemed Dr. Sagan somehow got wind of this, and asked politely if the name could be changed. Apple didn't comply, so the noted astronomer immediately lawyered a letter to Apple to get his name off their cotton-pickin' computer or else. After this, a rumor/joke started circulating that the machine had been renamed "BHA", for "Butt-Head Astronomer". This was a hot reference in the computer community (and anywhere else Sagan was considered a butt-head) for quite a while.
In 1996, Apple purchased a competing company, NeXT (which was founded by Steve Jobs after he left the other company he co-founded: Apple.) Apple had previously been dithering about buying Be, Inc. (which was founded by Jean-Louis Gasseé after he left the other company he had been president of: Apple.) So Apple bought the spinoff started by a disgruntled ex-Apple guy for over $400 million. The president of Apple at that time, Dr. Gilbert Amelio (who lasted about a year before being forced to resign at gunpoint, which was an amazingly successful tenure for an Apple CEO) was generally not respected for his computer skills (I suppose he may have had some...) or speaking skills, and clearly didn't like the fact that Steve Jobs, the charismatic computer genius was getting so much attention. Anyway, Apple had a pretty dysfunctional corporate culture that year.
To make fun of the whole mess, I wrote a little soap operetta, "As The Apple Turns," which I was planning to continue the next time Apple did something bozotic. (You can see it in the alt.religion.kibology 1996 "best of" PDF.) My favorite scene was the one where Dr. Amelio was trying to read his email by banging his mouse against the monitor. The story revolved around Amelio's idea to save Apple from bankruptcy by naming their new model the "Apple Lunker Fuzzo". Fortunately Jobs was able to talk Amelio out of that, but the only name they could settle on was something "CARL SAGAN IS A WUSSY WIMPY WEENIE WHO IS SO WIMPY HE NEVER EVER SUES ANYONE HA HA HA." (That's from memory, so don't complain if it's a little different from what I wrote last year.) I posted that the day after Apple bought NeXT.
Then I found out Dr. Sagan had died 24 hours before I had posted it. To make a long story short, the only way to save face and not look like I was beating a dead horse, so to speak, and not admit that I hadn't heard the news, was to pretend that I had posted the story before Sagan's untimely death. So a rumor suddenly sprang up that Sagan had kicked the bucket within hours of my story going all over the Internet.
A week or so later, after it had become a running gag that Kibo killed Carl Sagan, I wrote the second (and currently last) installment of "As The Apple Turns", only I mutated it into a murder mystery where George Durango, hard-boiled private eye, was trying to finger person or persons unknown for the murder of Carl Sagan. Despite my lack of proofreading allowing some typos and garbleos into the posting, I think I did pretty well in the sequel, which featured a look inside Bill Gate's house (he had a playground slide in the living room and kept shouting "Wheee!") and a visit to the Atari corporate headquarters. Remember Atari? They're dead now, too.
Previous mentions of Dr. Sagan in a.r.k were legion; some of my earliest invocations of his name were in quoting him in my .signature ("All colors are arbitrary.") and having him strolling through "BIFF'S BRANE".
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (James "Kibo" Parry) Subject: Re: The Straight Dope on Carl Sagan and Apple - what is it? Newsgroups: alt.fan.cecil-adams, alt.religion.kibology Organization: HappyNet Headquarters Date: Sat, 16 Apr 1994 12:27:32 GMT In alt.fan.cecil-adams, Patrick J. Fleury (pfleury@MCS.COM) wrote: > > [re Carl Sagan's alleged lawsuit against Apple] > That's what I heard. So what's true and what's not? Why was > the project originally named after Sagan? Was it? Is this all nonsense? > If Sagan loses, is he really a butt head? "Your honor, I can prove that my client, Dr. Sagan, is not a butt head. Medical evidence indicates that a normal human has exactly one butt, and Dr. Sagan has been certified to be human. Now, Dr. Sagan's butt is here-- I ask the jury to examine this, Exhibit A, Dr. Sagan's bare posterior. By similar logic, every normal person has exactly one head, and as Dr. Sagan is normal, this is his head. Smile, please, Doctor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you Exhibit B, the fully-formed head of Dr. Sagan, all real, even the hair. Since Dr. Sagan's head and butt are separated by his torso, they are clearly not the same, and therefore Dr. Sagan is not a butt-head. I request that he be permitted to add the phrase 'I AM NOT A BUTT-HEAD' after 'Carl Sagan, PhD.' "If we allow this noted astronomer to be mis-label a 'butt-head' against his Constitutional rights to not be a butt-head, it will set a precedent which will have repercussions throughout our entire society. Next Andy Rooney will be called a 'butt-head', and then Bill Cosby will be a 'butt-head', and Harlan Ellison will be a 'mega-butt-head', and so on until even the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, is called a 'butt-head', and that will be a sad day for all America because while William Jefferson Clinton is suffering the stigmata of butt-headism the GODLESS COMMIES WILL CARRY OUT THEIR SECRET AGENDA TO DESTROY THE WORLD!!!" -- K.
I have great respect for the late Dr. Sagan as an astronomer and science teacher, but you have to admit, his lawsuit over whether or not he was a butt-head made it clear that he was a butt-head.
Incidentally, people didn't figure out that he liked to smoke wacky tabaccy until a couple of years after he died -- even though he was on the board of directors of an organization devoted to lobbying for the legalization of marijuana, and he said good things about pot in his writings writings. Basically, it turned out that the butt-head was a pot-head.
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