Happy Birthday, Mac!

The Apple Macintosh is 25(ish) today.

On this date back in 1984, Apple Computer “introduced” the Macintosh to the public with its famous “1984” television commercial, aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.

Although this 60-second spot, directed by Ridley Scott, only ran once (OK, twice), officially, it is considered an advertising masterpiece and is probably one of the most viewed commercials in history. For more information, see its page on Wikipedia.

You can also watch the commercial itself on YouTube.

The Apple Macintosh was actually introduced on January 24 (two days later), but on Saturday I will be ice racing with MIRA (Michigan Ice Racing Association), so we celebrate earlier. (My car this year, a green Ford Contour, is so fast that a camera could not keep up. Yes, that is really me.)

By the way, in Super Bowl XVIII, the underdog LA Raiders (still sounds wrong) defeated the Washington Redskins by a score of 38-9, so the Mac ad was somewhat more exciting than the game.

A Brand New Day

The theme of this Inauguration Day is change for the better.

At this moment, President Barack Obama has just taken the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States. This historical moment really ushers in 2009, so it is an appropriate first post for this year.

Note that the new President now officially works from a home office (the most famous one in the world), as I and many independent software developers do.

For my part, I have worked to change my priorities and schedule to further reduce the number of distractions and focus primarily on actual development tasks. I am now setting aside two days per week during which I only do development, barring emergencies. Of course, through today, there have been more minor emergencies than not, but I will persist nevertheless.

I am looking forward and aspiring to great things in the coming months and years.

RIP: Majel Barrett

The voice of the Star Trek computer passes away.

Yesterday, Majel Barrett, wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, died at the age of 76 after a battle with leukemia. For those unaware of her career, she played the recurring roles of Nurse Chapel on the original Star Trek series (TOS) and Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). She was also the voice of the computer on the Enterprise in ST:TNG, which is my connection to her (though we never met).

I share credits with Majel Barrett on Star Trek: The Next Generation, “A Final Unity”. I was the lead programmer for the project, and after we made the (risky, at the time) decision to ship only on CD-ROM, it was decided that the game should feature voice acting from all of the stars of the series. Unfortunately, the management at Spectrum HoloByte only counted seven actors in this group, failing to consider the voice of the computer, for which they were going to use a generic voice actress. I suspected that fans would notice the different voice, but after my wife pointed out that they would also notice the absence of Majel Barrett (or Barrett-Roddenberry) in the game credits, I went and argued the point, successfully. The computer in our game found its proper voice.

It may be interesting to see where the Star Trek universe goes from here.

For more details (and pictures), see these articles from the New York Daily News and NBC Los Angeles.

In other news, Deep Throat, the key informant in the Watergate scandal, also died yesterday, perhaps having lived long enough to see something he may have never expected in his lifetime.

To end on a positive note, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, was published 165 year ago today. I celebrated by watching the TNT version, starring Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Picard on ST:TNG, including in the aforementioned game.

And Tiny Tim, “who did NOT die,” lives on to this day…