The Lite Side

Other Things Dell Did First

- 2001.10.15

In light of the recent brouhaha (a micro-panic, really) over Michael Dell's claim that Dell put integrated wireless laptops on the market before any other PC maker (because, after all, we know Apple doesn't make PCs...) I did a little investigating to determine what other sorts of things Dell did first.

You'd be surprised at what I found out.

First PC Infected by Doofus Virus

Records show that Dell was the first vendor to ship a laptop to be infected by the Windows "Doofus" virus, which makes the owner's hard drive emit a loud burping noise similar to the effect of eating too many Doritos while guzzling Diet Snapple watered down with 7 Up and a touch of ginger ale shaken violently with just a touch of Mrs. Dash added for cachet. It then emails this sound to every high-muckity-muck you know. Dell narrowly beat competitor Gateway (home of the seven-stomach-flu-virus) on this one. Ah, the rewards of being #1.

First CRT to Cause Cancer

Dell's manufacturing division did not realize that the early Configurion™ (Con-fig-YUR-ee-on) monitors shipped in 1994 actually contained klystron modulator tubes which emitted X-rays. Discovered by accident in a photo lab which kept finding mysteriously exposed film in their film storage locker, Dell quickly recalled the monitors, set them on fire, and claimed the recall was to prevent accidental fire in the monitors.

First use of the syllable "-ion" (Ee-Yon) in a computer name

Dell pioneered the use of the "-ion" suffix with its early On-ion™ computer in 1953, which reportedly was a real stinker and quickly pulled from the shelves after only 11.9 minutes on the market. Apparently, despite its name, it would not stay on when you turned it on. More recently, Dell has registered the following names for future use in their -ion desktop line, hoping to follow the success of the Inspirion™ (in-SPEER-ee-yon; corrects the spelling error Dell made when naming this model "Inspiron"), Dimension™ (DIM-en-SEE-on), and Precision™ (pre-SIZZ-ee-yon) computers:

  • Dellion™ (a cardboard computer from Office Depot)
  • BurninHellion (uses the new Pentium 4)
  • Pavilion™ (pah-VILL-ee-yon - most people don't know that HP licensed this name from Dell. In fact, HP still doesn't know it.)
  • Fusion™ (fuse-EE-yon; requires another 30 years R&D before it actually works)
  • Accordion™ (yank-o-VIC-ee-yon; makes amusing noises when you squeeze the mouse)
  • Hyperion™ (all screen savers set to Warp 8)
  • Confusion™ (con-FUSE-ee-yon; randomly selects a different version of Windoze every time it boots)
  • Ovenion™ (o-VEN-ee-yon; turns itself on when you leave the house)
  • Vermilion (ver-MIL-ee-yon; first fire-engine-red computer)
  • Alliteration-ion-ion™ (al-LIT-err-ATE-ee-yon-ee-yon-ee-yon; first computer with triple-redundant backups)
  • Confabulation™ (con-fab-u-LATE-ee-yon; used by his Mikeness his own self)
  • Titanion™ (a silver colored, still dripping with wet titanium spray paint laptop developed far ahead (11.9 minutes ahead, to be precise) of the TiBook made by Apple), and finally,
  • OhBabyYouTurnmeion™ (Used strictly for online whoopee)

First Stalker to Head Computer Company

Michael Dell, as well documented on the popular Mac site As the Apple Turns, is obsessed with becoming Steve Jobs; he follows His Steveness's moves so closely, sometimes he does them before Steve does. That would make him a stalker, I think, whether he does it himself or has some http proxy do it for him.

First Use of Black as Pentium Heat Radiator

In the past, computer makers would occasionally produce computers colored black in an attempt to add "Henry Ford color" to their lineup. For Dell, that perennial innovator, that wasn't enough: In 2001 they connected the Pentium's heat sink (now at an unimaginable 16.8 pounds of supercooled triple-jacketed aluminum) directly to the metal, black exterior of the computer, providing a large radiative surface in an attempt to keep the interior cool. Some users in the Pacific Northwest use this computer, the so called "Blackbody" Radiation™ (ray-dee-ATE-ee-yon) as the primary heat source for their homes.

First Use of Desktop Internal Power Supplies

To keep the computer running in the face of computer power blackouts, in 1995 Dell introduced the short-lived DieHardion™ (brusseh WILL-iss-ion) computer, using a car battery to provide power. The line was abandoned when users called in to complain that they could no longer start their computers, having never figured out how to plug them in. They used their computers for all of 11.9 minutes before draining the car batteries dead, and many balked at having to buy a new car just to have a spare battery.

Conclusion (con-CLUE-see-yon)

As you can see, Dell continues to be an Inspiration™ (In-spuh-RATE-ee-yon) to everyone in the computer business, and today, in particular, to me as I write this column. We can only hope that Mike "I am not Steve" Dell realizes the enormity of his contribution to the world of computing, before it's too late and he goes back to selling used cars or something.

Happy Compution™ (Come-Pootee-on)!

Jeff Adkins is a science teacher who isn't afraid to state his preferences in computing platforms. In his classroom he has everything from a Quadra 700 to a 500 MHz CD/R-CD/RW iMac, and they all work together nicely. He also writes Mac Lab Report for Low End Mac. and maintains a site for astronomy teachers at www.AstronomyTeacher.com.

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