Friday, April 27, 2007

Forget It! - ROM - August 1977


I was 27, living in a mobile home in south Austin, when I received a phone call out of the blue. Erik Sandberg-Diment was starting a new computer magazine and had read my article on personal computers in the April issue of Byte magazine and wondered if I would write a science fiction story for him. The theme of the issue was going to be Memory. I was so thrilled to get the call that I went into overdrive and wrote this story Forget It!in under a day. I mailed it off before the adrenaline rush wore off. The concept was simple, a PDA like device, a wristwatch, that had unlimited memory capacity. I had a lot of fun in a very short time, and for a thirty year old short story, I'm quite happy with the way it's held up. I designed a PDA long before they were invented. I postulated a universal network with unlimited information (I was all wrong, but hey, it's sci-fi) and the whole plot of the story turned on unauthorized copying of networked information.

I also inserted my wife Mary Ann's birthday into the story line so I'd always be able to remember it. Here are the first few lines:


Carlos Walker had the most thoughtful wife. He told her so while he shook the fancy wrapping paper free from the tiny package she had gotten him for his birthday.

It was a beautiful computer--a gold case on a gold watchband, with an elegant soft black display screen. Deb had been subjected to his wishing aloud for this model since they had hit the market, but he hadn't expected her actually to get him one. It must have done horrible things to her budget.

She may have been reading his mind, for she shushed him before he could ask, and handed him the instruction booklet. Then she rose to fix the cake.
Instructions. Oh, boy. Now I've gotta figure out how to work the thing.

Read the rest at my website.

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