Monday, 2 April 2018


A poem about computers on TV

Way back when computers were the size of a room
A mechanical mansion took mankind to the moon
Nowadays your toaster could fly people to Mars
Whilst kids hack the Pentagon in flashy coffee bars

Back then we knew just how the future would be
Television told us all about this exciting technology
How computers would come to dominate the earth
Claiming to be our benefactors for all that was worth

Rooms wall-to-wall with blinking coloured lights
Burbling familiar bleeps of radiophonic delights
Whirring great big spinning spools of magnetic tape
Electronic machines with our future to shape

Punchcards were shuffled spat out and fed back in
Slotted cardboard ghosts now haunting the machine
The future is arriving - the future is now TIM
The future’s so much better with a natty acronym

WOTAN’s Will Operating Thought Analogue
Space Intruder Detector SID had us all agog
REMAK was a Remote Electo-Matic Agent Killer
Knight Industries Two Thousand was KITT far sillier

Doctor Who met BOSS intent on world domination
A Bimorphic Operational Systems Supervising station
Then ran into the Oracle and the war machine Mentalis
Surely those computers had far bigger plans than this

Xoanon just went mad a bit - care of the mighty Tom
But at least it didn’t want to end all life with atom bombs
Ziggy stayed at home whilst Sam leapt to change beliefs
Holly, Hilly and Queeg add some much needed comic relief

Batman had a Batcomputer in a Batcave that was Batfreaky
Supersmug Dr Theopolis hung around with Twiki
There are some friendly helpful ones like BOX and K9
Whilst Mister Smith the fireplace had the odd droll line

The General spent time washing speed-learned minds
But went bang flash because it didn’t know “Why?”
Out in space the M5 computer took on Captain Kirk
Wanting in the main it seemed to put him out of work

Liberator’s ZEN was a big brown ball of flashing squares
Blew up in deep space where they couldn’t get the spares
Then Blake’s lot got a SLAVE built into Scorpio for a time
Which ended up crashing on a planet named Gauda Prime

Hitch-hiker’s Guidebooks, Deep Thought and Eddie
And here’s something for which the world’s not ready
Genuine People Personalities like the one in Marvin
When Zaphod went a-stealin’ turns out he got a bargain

You think that a computer ought to be your pal
Honestly people, does nobody remember HAL?
There’s not much fight in a flashing box of lights
Unless that is it’s ORAC - both tetchy and uptight

An automated future setting earth’s people free
In the bright white heat of new technology
In the blink of a bulb humanity’s fate is sealed
Gullible mankind starts to see truth revealed

Like David Brent for every TIM there’s a BOSS you see
Many of them seem intent on starting World War Three
Humans must prepare themselves to have new cyber masters
Who aren’t creative but can count things up so much faster

In preparation have a set of insolvable equations ready
Or make computers wonder what precisely love might be
Save the world once again with a witty payoff joke
As the room is filling up with big blue clouds of smoke

So as that tiny tinny voice is fading down to zero
Rejoice! Rejoice! As the humans are again the heroes
Yet remember it was Harold who built The Machine
And people made Samaritan - if you know what I mean

Computers may be here to stay in pockets everywhere
Sitting on desks in front of us and becoming more aware
From time to time remind them who really pulls the strings
And beware of anybody bearing over-stretched acronyms

Martin A W Holmes, April 2018

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