During the 1980’s I loved to do columns that consisted of mock interviews. Generally speaking there is a ludicrous premise of some sort. This is one of them. It was written for Microtimes in 1989 during an era of computer store expansion and subsequent incompetence. I could have edited this column to make the references more modern, but there is a quaintness to the old 386 and 486 era (note the 30 megabyte hard disk!), so I left it as-is. I think the point I was making back then is still valid today.

Robotics and Computer Sales
The Wave of the Future?

On April 15 of this year I was granted an exclusive interview with a super-secret cyborg developed by the defense department in conjunction with the North American Computer Dealers Association. The model I talked to was still a prototype and had wires hanging out of its metal body every which way. Apparently all the knowledge of all the computer salesmen throughout the United States was somehow programmed into this thing. It was to become the epitome of the computer salesman of the future. The interview is reproduced unedited.

DVORAK: First of all, do you have a name?

ANDY: Yes, my name is Andy the cyborg.

DVORAK: Is a cyborg different than a robot?

ANDY: Got me. I have no idea. AND I couldn’t care less to find out.

DVORAK: So you are the perfect computer salesman, I’m told.

ANDY: I don’t know how they figure that. I haven’t sold one system. In fact I can’t even walk yet. But theoretically, yes, I am the epitomized computer salesman.

DVORAK: So with all this information programmed into you, how do you think the industry is doing?

ANDY: What industry? Steel?

DVORAK: The computer industry!

ANDY: How should I know? I’m a salesman not an analyst.

DVORAK: Hmmm, ok. Well, what computer system is best? Do you think the 80486 will be used in desktop systems?

ANDY: I have no idea what system is best. I’ve never heard of the 486.

DVORAK: I thought all the brain power of all the computer salesman the whole country over was programmed into you.

ANDY: Absolutely correct. So I guess no one in a computer store has ever heard of the 486. Is this a trick question? You should note that as I scan my memory banks I find that I have no sense of humor, either.

DVORAK: I find this hard to believe. Are you sure that ALL the brains of all the salesmen were programmed into you?

ANDY: There was one guy in Alabama who refused to cooperate. Otherwise yes.

DVORAK: And you’ve never heard of the 486 and you have no sense of humor? What else is wrong with you?

ANDY: Are these flaws? Maybe you’re the one who is flawed, huh? Why don’t you just ask me about selling computers. Pretend you’re a customer and I’m the salesman.

DVORAK: Good idea. Ok, I just walked in.

ANDY: Hello, sir, can I help you?

DVORAK: I just wanted to browse.

ANDY: Then get out schmuck. We don’t want tire kickers in here!

DVORAK: Hey, hey, hey! What gives?

ANDY: Sorry. That seems to be the consensus approach. Try buying something.

DVORAK: Okay. Do you carry Compaq?

ANDY: Compaq? COMPAQ? Are you trying to tell me my business? Do you think you’re an expert throwing around fancy terms? Look pal, I’m the expert ok?

DVORAK: Compaq is a brand, not a term.

ANDY: No, no, no. It’s a term meaning small footprint.

DVORAK: C-O-M-P-A-Q! Compaq. It’s a brand.

ANDY: I knew that! But it was named after the term. They’re a relative newcomer. Yes, we do have Copacks.

DVORAK: COMPAQ! Not Copacks. What models do you have?

ANDY: We’re sold out of them right now. The company isn’t doing too well. We recommend a Buzzard 386. It’s the number one selling computer in the country. Outstanding product. We have them with memory included and a big 30 megabyte hard disk. Best you can buy.

DVORAK: Cache?

ANDY: Or check or credit.

DVORAK: No, does the Buzzard have a caching controller?

ANDY: I have no ideas about the finances or the company’s treasurer. I think they pay their employees by check, though.

DVORAK: I’m asking about a disk controller for the hard disk.

ANDY: It’s a scuzzy controller.

DVORAK: On a PC? Who makes that?

ANDY: All PC’s have scuzzy controllers. You shouldn’t try to be an expert if you don’t know what you’re talking about. It began with the IBM PC/XT. XT means scuzzy.

DVORAK: XT does not mean scuzzy!

ANDY: Look pal, I’ve been selling machines for a decade. I know what I’m talking about!

DVORAK: Ok, stop. Simulation over!

ANDY: How did I do?

DVORAK: Not bad. You are definitely the epitomized computer salesman. Good work. You don’t know a damn thing about computers do you?

ANDY: I’m a salesman, not a nerd.

itals — I reached over to a wire hanging from this robot and angrily yanked it off. The contraption soon started smoking and its head fell off. I looked at the heap of tin as it lie on the floor. Just then a guy came running into the room wondering what the crashing noise was.

“What happened?” he asked, his eyes bugged open.

“It said something about a stomach ache, then collapsed.”

“A stomach ache?”

“Yes, he said he ate one too many chips last night!”

Ok, ok. SO I don’t have a good punch line for this column. The next time you go into a computer store, though, and get a dummy for a salesman, ask them if they know Andy.


  1. tankilo says:

    I loved the back and forth until you “realized” that it was the knowledge of the salesmen he was programmed with. Good times

  2. Tippis says:

    “ANDY: I have no idea what system is best. I’ve never heard of the 486.”

    Yup. Close enough a rendition of the average computer sales person to convince me.

  3. Jurjen says:

    Luckily, salespeople are much more sophisticated nowadays.
    While in 1980 they didn’t know what a 486 was, modern ones today don’t know what quad core means.
    See the improvement?

  4. Kerouac says:

    Interestingly, most computer salesmen *still* don’t know what a 486 was.

    Ever notice how the *perfect* machine for you – no matter what you do, or want to do – is the store’s oldest still-current model? Particularly if it has been out of the box for awhile and is missing the manual and at least one connecting cable.

  5. I guess there goes the “Hey, John, hi!” I used to get at my Best Buy.

  6. Uncle Patso says:

    After all these years, I don’t know why I’m still surprised when this kind of conversation happens to me…


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