IBM and the Muppets

By Tim Moran  |  Posted 2010-08-17 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tim Moran's Out of Scope column includes stories about collaboration between IBM and the Muppets, a telepresence droid called Vgo, and retro-friendly typewriters that are used as keybaords.

The IBM of the 1960s was a very staid business. So who would have thought that the Muppets were providing motivational advice to scores of IBM salespeople and marketers? I would guess, no one. 

A great article on Technologizer.com, “The IBM Muppet Show,” tells the tale of how the maker of System 360 hooked up with the eventual denizens of Sesame Street. Writes Andrew Leal, author of the article, “IBM. The Muppets. ... In the late 1960s, before most people had ever seen a computer in person or could identify a Muppet on sight, the two teamed up ... for a series of short films designed to help its sales staff.” 

The article serves up four videos, including one in which Cookie Monster makes a meal of a computerized coffee maker and eventually gets blown to bits. Leal writes: “This entertaining short ... shows that the company had a corporate ability to laugh at itself.” Yeah, laughing all the way to the bank at the corner of Sesame Street and Big Blue Way.

V-ready, V-set, Vgo

Have you heard about the “telepresence droid”? Think of it as a robot that’s you. Or it’s you as a robot. Or it’s an avatar of you as a robot. Or something like that. 

Anyway, a recent story on FastCompany.com (“This Is the Telepresence Droid You’ve Been Looking For”) gets under the hood of Vgo, the hottest new telepresence bot. Author Kit Eaton writes that Vgo is “possibly the first truly viable remote-working avatar robot we’ve seen.” 

Vgo is 4 feet tall and looks a little bit like a dog bone with a hole in the middle and a tiny TV at the top. The TV is where your face would be—or a video of your face, anyway. When all the proper connections have been made, Vgo can take your “physical place” at the office, attending meetings or just roaming around the corridors at work. 

Of course, we’ll all know it’s time to retire when our Vgos meet only other Vgos around the water cooler because there isn’t a single physical soul in the office. Just think how much companies could save in coffee and toilet paper alone. Viva Vgo!

A Type Personality

Jack Zylkin, dubbed “an enterprising tinkerer,” is trying to bring the typewriter back to the future. He’s the mastermind behind the USB Typewriter, which is described as “a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence.” 

According to an article on TheRegister.com titled “Ancient typewriters reborn as USB keyboards,” Zylkin has found a way to use vintage typewriters as the keyboard for modern computers. The USBtypewriter.com site waxes rhapsodic:  “Lovers of the look, feel and quality of old-fashioned manual typewriters can now use them as keyboards for any USB-capable computer! ...  The modification is easy to install, it involves no messy wiring and does not change the outward appearance of the typewriter.”
And all these many happy returns for about $400 or $500.



 
 
 
 
Tim Moran is a freelance writer for Baseline magazine.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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