Making submillimetre waves

The Very Big Computer Corporation had a Very Big Problem. No-one was buying any of its computers. Over a few beers, the company President finally realised why. Dave Wilson explains.

‘Just because we increase the speed of information doesn’t mean we can increase the speed of decisions. – Dale Dauten.

The Very Big Computer Corporation (VBCC) had a Very Big Problem (VBP). Through an extensive survey of thousands of its potential customers, it had discovered that half of them didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘Megahertz.’

That didn’t make the President of the Very Big Computer Corporation very happy because, last year, he had spent over twenty million dollars promoting the speed of the microprocessors inside his boxes. Somewhat silly, in retrospect, because the customers obviously couldn’t have cared less.

Swiftly, the advertising suits were called in. They were told to create a campaign that would ‘educate’ the masses to the meaning of Megahertz to stimulate some spending in the market.

The advertising guys spent money like it was going out of style, creating an expensive series of TV advertisements that appeared everywhere. Brad Pitt presented them. Ridley Scott directed them. And Sir Andrew Carburettor even wrote some music for them. Or at least he said he did. (That’s enough of that – Ed.)

Later, the Very Big Computer Company did a follow up study to judge the effectiveness of the advertising. Hooray! It had worked! Everyone knew the meaning of the M word. Unfortunately, no more people planned to purchase a computer than they had done before.

The President was flummoxed. The ‘crummy bunch of agency jerks’ were fired and a chap called Sam Song was brought in from North Korea to apply some strong arm tactics.

Sam was as unconventional as he was talented. He invited the President over to his place for a cold beer to discuss strategy. Over several, the President lamented over the failure of his past campaigns.

The Korean laughed and beckoned the President into his kitchen.

‘See that,’ Sam quizzed, pointing at a microwave oven. ‘You know what that does?’

‘Of course I do’, said the President, ‘You cook food in it. It’s a microwave oven.’

‘Ah, but did you know that it works at 2.5 Gigahertz?’ asked Sam.

The President shook his head.

‘Do you know what that does?’ asked Sam, pointing at the radio.

‘Of course I do’, said the President, ‘You can listen to music on it. It’s an FM radio.’

‘Ah, but did you know that it picks up a band of frequencies between 88 Megahertz and 108 Megahertz?’ asked Sam.

The President shook his head. What kind of weird weed was this jacuzzi brain on anyway?

But it went on. And on. And on. Sam discussed what seemed like every appliance in the house. It seemed he knew the operating frequency of anything that had a cable going into it.

Finally, they came to Sam’s computer.

‘Do you know what frequency the microprocessor in this works at?’ asked Sam.

The President smirked a smirk. This was something he did know! He took the top off the box and looked inside.

‘2 Gigahertz,’ he replied.

‘And what do you do with it?’ asked Sam.

‘Loads of things. Anything you like. It’s incredibly flexible,’ said the President. ‘It’s a computer.’

The silence that followed was only broken by the sound of Sam cracking open another frosty one.