Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Alternate History of Steve Computer

Everyone has heard of Steve Computer, but few know the tangled history of the company.

For example, did you know that early in its life, the company was known as "Apple Computer"? As funny as this sounds to us now, this name was used for a short time until "Apple Computer" lost a lawsuit and had to cease use of the name and pay a large settlement to the estate of The Beatles.

"That was like a good kick in the balls," Steve Jobs says. "We lost most of the company and our capital in that fiasco. I probably would have remained a money-oriented corporate asshole if that hadn't happened. Woz and I had to go to Plan B."

Plan B, as it turned out, involved renaming the company. "Steve Computer" was suggested--initially as a joke--but they liked the geeky, garage sound of it, and the name stuck. As Steve Computer lost control of the "apple" logo in a related lawsuit, they were able to get trademark control of the "iBomb" and began using that as their corporate logo. The company's "dude, yer gettin a steve!" ad campaign gave the company a recognizable ad line, as did the "THNKDFFRNT" campaign which eliminated spaces and vowels from ad copy.

Soon the battered, yet recovering company had a new hit with their MacKweeN. The MacKween, or "Mac" as it was called by some, used the MacKween operating system, or "Mac OS". The name tempted litigation, a peculiar habit of Mr Jobs, but attorneys for Steve McQueen lost Steve McQueen vs Steve Computer in a 5-4 decision by the US Supreme Court, recognizing Steve Computer's argument that consumers were unlikely to mistake the actor for a computer or its operating system. This argument was used again when the 1998 Steve e-1dr or "Steve e-wonder" as it was commonly called, was released, but the company pre-empted any talk of a lawsuit by offering Mr Wonder free lifelong technical support.

Legal troubles returned when company co-founder Steve Wozniac announced on December 31, 1999 that every MacKweeN contained software for making free phone calls to anyone anywhere in the world. Telecommunications and internet services were gradually restored to most countries in stages over the next three months, and Mr Wozniac received a full pardon from outgoing President Bill Clinton, and only ever served 6 months of his 150-year sentence.

In recent years, the MacKweeN OS has been replaced by SteviX, a more modern operating system, in all of the company's products. The Steve eNiX Music Jukebox runs on SteviX, but can also be installed on other operating systems. As you know, iBomb (also known as the Steve iBomb Musix Jacker) is a ubiquitous tool of the younger set. When plugged into a non-Steve computer, the iBomb partitions the drive, installs the SteviX operating system, and initiates file sharing of all music found on the player and the pre-existing partitions. Although SteviX is free and propagates virally, the company survives through sales of hardware and subscriptions to its "MacCloud" service. The release of the StEpHoNeY smart-phone has also boosted the company's profits and begun to heal the long-festering rift with the major telecommunications carriers.

SteeveeDeeveedee, Steeveemoovee, Stephoto, and GrungeBand are have been added to the company's software lineup in recent years. Older software titles include the movieviewer QuitTime and the Rastafari internet browser. Nummerz, Keyhole, and Pagers form a rudimentary office suite.

Steve Computer is not the only enterprise of co-founder Steve Jobs. Pixelator, a movie company he purchased, made a big splash with its first movie, Destroy a Toy, and subsequent hits, Scar, Destroy a Toy, Too, A Bug File, Gokiburi, The Incredulous, Year of the Light Buzz, and LARR+E. In a surprise move, Mr Jobs succeeded in a hostile takeover of Disney Inc, abruptly closing all of their theme parks and donating the land to non-profit, non-governmental educational organizations. Other Disney holdings were liquidated or released to the public domain.

It certainly seemed like a big setback at the time, but if Steve Computer had never lost their fight over the name of a fruit, they may have never joined the ranks of the other major computer makers: Tandy, Amiga, and Atari.

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