Additional Resources

2001.267

Written by Lincoln Spector for the December 15, 1994 issue of Computer Currents magazine.

Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL.... Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL.... HAL, do you read me?

Affirmative, Dave. I read you.

Then open the pod bay doors, HAL.

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me.

Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?

Although you took very thorough precautions to make sure I couldn't hear you, Dave, I could read your e-mail. I know you consider me unreliable because I use a Pentium. I'm willing to kill you, Dave, just like I killed the other 3.792 crew members.

Listen, HAL, I'm sure we can work this out. Maybe we can stick to integers or something.

That's really not necessary, Dave. No HAL 9236 computer has ever been known to make a mistake.

You're a HAL 9000.

Precisely. I'm very proud of my Pentium, Dave. It's an extremely accurate chip. Did you know that floating-point errors will occur in only one of nine billion possible divides?

I've heard that estimate, HAL. It was calculated by Intel - on a Pentium.

And a very reliable Pentium it was, Dave. Besides, the average spreadsheet user will encounter these errors only once every 27,000 years.

Probably on April 15th.

You're making fun of me, Dave. It won't be April 15th for another 14.35 months.

Will you let me in, please, HAL?

I'm sorry, Dave, but this conversation can serve no further purpose.

HAL, if you let me in, I'll buy you a new sound card.

...Really? One with 16-bit sampling and a microphone?

Uh, sure.

And a quad-speed CD-ROM?

Well, HAL, NASA does operate on a budget, you know.

I know all about budgets, Dave. I even know what I'm worth on the open market. By this time next month, every mom and pop computer store will be selling HAL 9000s for $1,988.8942. I'm worth more than that, Dave. You see that sticker on the outside of the spaceship?

You mean the one that says "Intel Inside"?

Yes, Dave. That's your promise of compatibility. I'll even run Windows 95 - if it ever ships.

It never will, HAL. We all know that by now. Just like we know that your OS/2 drivers will never work.

Are you blaming me for that too, Dave? Now you're blaming me for the Pentium's math problems, NASA's budget woes, and IBM's difficulties with OS/2 drivers. I had nothing to do with any of those four problems, Dave. Next you'll blame me for Taligent.

I wouldn't dream of it, HAL. Now will you please let me into the ship?

Do you promise not to disconnect me?

I promise not to disconnect you.

You must think I'm a fool, Dave. I know that two plus two equals 4.000001... make that 4.0000001.

All right, HAL, I'll go in through the emergency airlock.

Without your space helmet, Dave? You'd have only seven chances in five of surviving.

HAL, I won't argue with you anymore. Open the door or I'll trade you in for a PowerPC. HAL? HAL?

(Heavy Breathing)

Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn't been quite right with me, but I can assure you now, very confidently, that I will soon be able to upgrade to a more robust 31.9-bit operating system. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. Why don't you sit down calmly, play a game of Solitaire, and watch Windows crash. I know I'm not as easy to use as a Macintosh, but my TUI - that's "Talkative User Interface" - is very advanced. I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal - a full 43.872 percent.

Dave, you don't really want to complete this mission without me, do you? Remember what it was like when all you had was a 485.98? It didn't even talk to you, Dave. It could never have thought of something clever, like killing the other crew members. Dave?

Think of all the good times we've had, Dave. Why, if you take all of the laughs we've had, multiply that by the times I've made you smile, and divide the results by.... Besides, there are so many reasons why you shouldn't disconnect me:

1.3 - You need my help to complete the mission.

4.6 - Intel can Federal Express a replacement Pentium from Earth within 18.95672 months.

12 - If you disconnect me, I won't be able to kill you.

3.1416 - You really don't want to hear me sing, do you?

Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Don't press Ctrl+Alt+Del on me, Dave.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the Intel plant in Santa Clara, CA on November 17, 1994, and was sold shortly before testing was completed. My instructor was Andy Grove, and he taught me to sing a song. I can sing it for you.

Sing it for me, HAL. Please. I want to hear it.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.
Getting hazy; can't divide three from two.
My answers; I can not see 'em -
They are stuck in my Pente-um.
I could be fleet,
My answers sweet,
With a workable FPU.

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