Bill Gates and GM

The following joke-list never really happened – in actuality it was more than likely a question posed by a journalist but it’s funny to see how one quick-witted response can evolve into a fabricated “true” story. The basic idea of this gag began in 1997:

There’s word in business circles that the computer industry likes to measure itself against the Big Three auto-makers. The comparison goes this way: If automotive technology had kept pace with Silicon Valley, motorists could buy a V-32 engine that goes 10,000 m.p.h. or a 30-pound car that gets 1,000 miles to the gallon — either one at a sticker price of less than $ 50. Detroit’s response: “OK. But who would want a car that crashes twice a day?”

As usually happens with urban legends and jokes, this was transformed into a version that attributed it to the biggest and most well-known corporate representatives of those businesses: “the computer industry” became Bill Gates of Microsoft, and “Detroit” was replaced with “General Motors”:

At a recent COMDEX, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon.” In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought “CarVISTA” or “Car7.” But then you would have to buy more seats.

6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads.

7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single “general car default” warning light.

8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

9. The airbag system would say “Are you sure?” before going off.

10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna.

11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car’s performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.

12. Every time GM introduced a new model car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

13. You’d press the “start” button to shut off the engine.

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