Car Operating Systems
As written sometime in 1993.
If Operating Systems Ran Your Car
Special thanks to the long lost poster who wrote the original version of this and posted it to alt.religion.computers.
Additional thanks to Guy Sherr for some contributions.
It’s ironic that this whole thing began years before the term “Information Superhighway” came into vogue, as it’s now so appropriate.
MS-DOS: You get in the car and try to remember where you put your keys. Not only that but once you hire someone to find them, but you can’t use more than one of the steering wheel, gear shift, blinkers, brakes, windshield wipers, clutch, accelerator, seat controls, lights, mirrors, or cigarette lighter at the same time. However, Microsoft has included some state of the art technology (tm), with which you might be able to convince a friend to hold the wheel while you fiddle with one of the other things though. You probably won’t crash either. Really.
Windows: You get in the car and drive to the store very slowly, because attached to the back of the car is a freight train. Using the technology mentioned above, at least two of your four friends in the car are holding onto your wheel at any given time, though they keep passing it off between them, and two of them are drunk.
Windows 95: Much like next year’s Cadillac, you can’t drive it, but Richardo Montalban will be glad to show you the nice Corinthian leather. Our spies tell us that you can drive to the store as fast as you want, but if you want to pick up any friends you have to bring their freight train along. The front seat passenger will keep trying to shift gears or steer for you. The car can theoretically go really fast on the highways but the highways aren’t built yet and your friends will whine about wanting to take the scenic route anyway.
NT 3.1: This time you can drive the freight train instead of the car tacked onto the front, though you can climb into the car if you need to. The train will travel in excess of 200 miles per hour but it only goes where the rails go.
NT 3.5: Now it’s more of a bullet train with a virtually unlimited supply of cars in the back. While it’s faster and doesn’t derail as often, it only goes where the monorails go, and you know how many of those there are. The paint job is much better, too.
Cairo: Richardo Montalban is back with a vengeance. He’s got the new Cadillac Bullet Train for the roads that haven’t been built yet but at least they aren’t the monorails. Not only does it have Corinthian leather, but it will switch to any other sort of seat covering if you want. Richardo assures us that it will be ready for the showroom season of 1995^H6^H7.
Macintosh System 7: You get in the car to go to the store, and the car drives you to church, at 8 miles an hour. On the way, the brakes refuse to work because of a “type 1 error”. You try typing “1” but nothing happens. The car is only available in beige, and no one else makes parts or does maintenance except the dealer you bought it from. Your gas may not work with the current release.
Macintosh System 7.5: As above, but the interior is a demo of next years model. There is a button on the dashboard to open the sun roof, which hasn’t been implemented yet. On a good note, the car takes unleaded, leaded and diesel now, but it still only comes in one color, and the frame, shell, and chassis of the car is dependent on your engine. The car goes really fast when you are trying to drive some places, but still moves at 8mph when going to others, and no matter where you go, it guzzles lots of gas.
Macintosh System 8 (Copeland): You get in the car, and tell the engine to go to the store. The engine in turn tells the real engine, which is hidden in the trunk, to drive the car, which then tells the steering wheel to start paying attention to what you want it to do. Eventually you’ll just be able to get in the trunk with the engine, but for now you’ll have to wait. Whether this car will drive on roads built before 1992 is still up in the air. Rumor has it, that when the car is finally released, you will be able to give your friends each a set of keys, and the car steering and handling will adjust itself to each drivers ability, but the car will still only come in one color.
SysV UNIX: You get in the car and type “grep store”. After reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour en route, you arrive at the barber shop.
BSD UNIX: You get in the car, whereupon AT+T slaps you with a lawsuit, and you get to sit in your garage for a year or two.
Unixware: You pay through the nose for your car, which only takes super unleaded premium gas. Then the chauffeur lets you in the car, which takes you to the store at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.
AFS UNIX: You get in the car, and are able to look at everyone else’s dashboard in the universe. You can’t touch their controls though. You try to drive somewhere and your car has to get gas from mit first. When you finally get going your car tries to get to the store without using highways because your makefile can’t understand distributed volumes. Halfway there you stop cold and have to wait in traffic while the file servers clean up their callbacks. Meanwhile, people keep walking in to your car and looking around. On the plus side, you only need one car and all your friends can use it at the same time.
Linux: You start to get in the car, but the door is being replaced. After waiting for that, you sit down, and wait for the key to be implemented. You turn the key, and the car starts up. Then someone goes and replaces all the fuel linkages. Now you have to get back out of the car, so it doesn’t blow up. Not that blowing up is a problem, because you’re never in the car long enough to actually get anywhere.
SunOS: This used to be a nice comfortable family sedan but every year it looks more and more like a tank. The steering wheel just turned into a joystick and you’ll have to move your seats to fit around the turrent mounting. On the plus side you finally have a gun.
HP/UX: The car is really fast, but the controls don’t look like those on any car you have ever driven before. Lots of the features you want have not yet been implemented, but they are coming “Real Soon Now”(tm). The car has really cool blinking lights on the dashboard. You don’t know what most of them mean, but they are really pretty.
Y-Cos: You try six times to get in the car. Eventually the door actually opens, and you sit down and type “grep store”. This takes 6 tries because the tty driver won’t interface with the gear shift. Finally, you get the clutch and accelarator to sync correctly, and you get shot to the barber shop before it has opened for the day. You realize your mistake and readjust so you wind up at the store, but by the time you get there your temp space has been reallocated and your car just drives in circles until the queue manager shoots your wheels out.
A/UX: You get in the car but it only takes leaded gas. As SysV above, it takes you to the barber shop instead of the store, but as Sys7 above, it won’t go faster than 8 mph.
A/IX: You get in the car and your seat never fits you. It never will, so don’t worry about replacing it. The steering wheel only turns left.
Mach: The car is really really fast, unless you’re trying to corner, in which case it’s really really slow. You can pick any body and suspension you want, but none of them are useful except the one that you have to have a truck to be allowed to use.
NeXTStep: As Mach above, but you’re not allowed any choices. You can go just about anywhere you want, but you’d better be prepared to find it yourself. Once you’ve found it the first time, it becomes amazingly easy to find it and anything similar. Your car looks really cool, but there’s no tradein. Now that the company has stopped trying to force you to drive on their roads only, all the other companies want NeXT to build bodies for them.
OSF/1: You get in the car, whereupon everyone starts arguing over who gets to drive. Everytime you learn half of the controls for the car the manufactuer releases a new model, and changes the kind of gas that it runs on and you have to spend another year trying to figure out the new car. After three years of sitting around in the garage, you give up and start using a macintosh.
PowerOPEN: This isn’t really an OS, it’s a broken suspension with a slow engine and one of two snappy looking steering wheels - one only turns left, the other only turns right. Pick any body you want. The parts have been in your garage for years, but the guy who’s supposed to put them together keeps blowing you off.
OS/2: After fueling up with 6000 gallons of gas, you get in the car and drive to the store with a motercycle escort and a marching band in procession. Halfway there, the car blows up, killing everybody in town. New wheels will be out to correct that problem, real soon now.
OS/2 WARP: You get in the car and Paul Reiser’s voice whines at you over the radio. You can’t see out of your car so you have to buy another car with windows to look out of and put it on top of this car. This probally seems really expensive, but everyone else is doing it, and you want to be cool too, don’t you? If you don’t buy this car you may get approached by rabid users telling you how much easier your life would be if you had it.
VMS: You get in the car, only to discover that it’s only a large box with wheels painted on. You can’t touch anyone else’s seat. If you try to drive anywhere, it makes a new copy of the car, and sends you there in it. When you try to get out of the box, it collapses.
Amiga: You get in the car and click the store icon. The car goes nowhere, but at least the radio of the car is in perfect quadrophonic sound and you can play “Auto-Bingo” in 16.8 million colors. In two weeks there will be a new radio which will play different songs, and use a different dial system so your old maps don’t get you anywhere.
Atari ST: You get in your car, but people dont recognize it as a car, as they all thought that the maker only made go-carts, and everyone thought they went out of business years ago. The new model of your car will be out Very Soon Now™ but you won’t be able to buy it.
MiNT: You get in the car, which looks really fast. If your friends try to get in the car the car blows up, this will be fixed Very Soon Now™. Once you manage to get your car out of your driveway, it can’t go anywhere.
SNES: You get on a bike, and ride around your lawn. In 34 days, a neighboor’s lawn will be released.
IOS: You get ready to go to the store. You have your shopping list and the addresses of the store and your house. You get into line at your front door until the road is clear. Then you get a car, which is filled with a copy of you, and it goes to the store for you. Prepare to die of old age waiting to hear whether it ever got there, if necessary.
HP 48sx: You get on a tricicle, and use lambda calculus to teleport yourself to the store. None of your friends can understand how the hell you did this, but it doesn’t matter, because who actually got to the store, right?
Slide rule: You walk to the store. It may take you a bit longer, but at least your car won’t go crashing into a tree and exploding in a thunderstorm.