What if Harley
Davidson made computers
the same way that they make motorcycles?
Let’s just close our eyes and pretend that Harley Davidson builds computers instead of motorcycles. Now, if Harley Davidson built computers the same way that they currently build motorcycles, their top of the line 2004 model computer would be a Zilog 8bit Z80 CPU based motherboard with a very generous 4K of RAM. Forget about a hard drive, you’d have to load and store software using a cassette drive (anybody old enough to remember the commands CLOAD and CSAVE?). You’ll enjoy powerful, extra cost software bundles such as the special Harley Davidson editions of CP/M, Wordstar and Dbase II.
Color, you say? Perish the thought! You don’t need color unless you’re a gay peacock. The Harley Davidson computer comes with a twelve inch monochrome cathode ray tube monitor built right into the upper middle of the computer case. The full-text monitor can display 70 lines of 102 characters each while the text is white on a black background. Now some knowledgeable people will claim that this monitor intrudes on a lot of useful space deep inside the case, however the engineers in Milwaukee will instead point out the heritage aspect and the timeless style of the integrated design. After all, when the first Harley Davidson computer was assembled in a ramshackle outhouse turned impromptu electronics workshop that’s the way Harley and Davidson designed it and what was good enough then is certainly good enough today. Besides, who would ever mount a monitor anywhere else but right there in the middle of the case where you could easily see what you were typing? The next thing you’ll be asking for is for the ability to adjust the angle of the monitor or move it to a more comfortable position. Bah! Some people just aren’t happy with perfection when it is presented to them.
And you will of course
want to be able to print out hard copies of what you have typed so Harley
Davidson has wisely taken that into account. The Harley Computer Experience ™
is incomplete without the addition of the seventy pound bi-directional Diablo
printer. This stylish, heavy duty printer comes with its own rolling castor
mounted hollow steel tube support stand and can handle both plain paper and line
feed format sheet rolls. The Diablo can print at a blazing fast speed of 40
characters per second, has a unique sound reminiscent of a chainsaw ripping
through Formica board and is almost as loud.
For connecting to dedicated Harley sponsored BBSes around the world, you would receive a ten pound, 300 baud modem that was as large as a shoe box. The Internet is just for wannabes, BBSes are rich in heritage and that’s the way that real computer users communicate. Given the speed of 300 baud, and the V.21 protocols, that’s probably adequate for communication between two Harley Davidson computer users, as any messages will consist mainly of one finger pecking and monosyllabic conversations.
User 1: “I gots me a Harly kompooter. Hur de hur hur. You?”
(two minutes later)
User 2: “Me to. Hur. Hur.”
(two minutes later)
User 1: “Hur! Dat good! Harley makes good pooters. Gots any nekkid pikshurs of yur wife?”
(two minutes later)
User 2: “No. I got nekkid pikshurs of my sistur tho. Whatcha gots to trade me for ‘em.”
(two minutes later)
User 1: “I’ll gives ya a nuw crome stator and a pair of lethur tasuls for yur handul bars for dem pikshurs.”
(two minutes later)
User 2: “Dun deel. I’d spit an shake buh this here’s tha Intraweb …”
(two minutes later)
User 1: “Hey! Where does I sends them parts to?”
(two minutes later)
User 2: “Hell, Cooter. Yu knows where I lives, yu idjit. I’m too tralurs down from yur dubble wide. Jess puts yur ovurawls bak own and walk own over heres with dem parts. I’ll gets you some fresh shine and meets you at the screen dor wit dem pikshurs.”
The computer case would come in black paint with many chrome pieces (nuts, bolts, screws) and genuine leather trim. If you wanted an orange colored case, it would be sold under the special “Heritage Edition” package, cost a thousand dollars extra and short of the color change, would have no difference at all in machine performance. The computer case itself would be three feet wide, five feet deep, and four feet tall while weighing nearly 500 pounds. If the computer case ever fell over, you would need two people to help you lift it back upright.
The HD computer logo would be stamped on every surface of the case (including the bottom) as well as on the keyboard. The computer would be shipped with protective vinyl dust covers for the keyboard and case. These covers would be imprinted with the American flag and a screaming eagle logo.
There would be no expansion slots in the case, if you wanted more power, you’d have to gut the thing, throw out all of the old parts, and start over from scratch using new parts from the aftermarket. Of course, the new parts would be offered by Harley Davidson under their "Screaming Eagle" brand of high performance computer division. Harley Davidson would offer many models over the years, however, new models would simply be older models with the keyboard, trim, or fasteners from a different model. The “new” model would have a new designation and an increase in price when in actuality, nothing really changed regarding its performance.
The Harley Davidson computer would be air cooled, with a large metal two bladed cooling fan that was belt driven and the power supply for the computer would weigh twenty pounds alone. The main selling point of the computer would be the roar of the air cooled guts of the box, which many users would easily recognize. This roar would, to the uneducated, represent pure, raw computing power and would even be sold as such. In fact, every time you booted up your Harley Davidson computer, the entire neighborhood would know it. The sound of the belt driven cooling fan would vibrate your entire house right down to the foundations and rattle windows for a block.
Harley Davidson would even try to copyright the roar of their box as they wouldn’t want any other company to duplicate one of their strongest selling points (noise). The well known and easily recognizable Harley Davidson computer roar would actually be due in large part to the poor design of the entire setup, but most Harley Davidson computer users would be too stupid to know or care otherwise. There of course would be ways to make this loud mechanical roar even louder, until you were almost deaf, but no real performance gains would be noted. Still, the sound of a Harley Computer would be unique and would itself be a sound that many of the computer illiterate would quickly (if wrongly) associate not only with computers in general but with high end computing power as well.
Most Harley Davidson computer users would spend hours each weekend polishing their Harley Davidson computers before using them, wiping down the case, cleaning the screen, vacuuming the keyboard. Some users would simply set the computer up and never use it, instead speculating that this particular model might be an investment and any use would diminish its potential for return gains. The myth that a Harley Davidson computer was a good investment would spread among the financially ignorant like wildfire, further inflating an already artificially inflated market for the units.
The entry level Harley model, called the “Sportster,” would weigh nearly two hundred pounds and cost you ten grand, if you were lucky. Dealer markup would of course affect final price and dealers would be getting a premium for these machines. Also, you would have to put down a non-refundable deposit and put your name on a waiting list that could take months to years for you to receive your new Harley computer.
Larger models of Harley computers would be available, at additional weight and cost and some slight increase in performance (the new Evolution series microprocessor is thirty percent faster than the previous Z80 and also comes with 8K of onboard ram and rubber mounts on the motherboard to help dampen vibration). Enthusiasts would refer to the top of the line models as “full dressers” which, incidentally, would be exactly what piece of furniture they would most closely approach in both size and weight.
Of course, you can’t be a computer user unless you look like a computer user and Harley would offer an entire lifestyle accessory series to go with their computers in order to complete the overall image. Why, people who didn’t even own a Harley Davidson computer or who were completely computer illiterate would have a Harley Davidson computer bumper sticker on their vehicle, a Harley Davidson computer T-shirt, or even a Harley Davidson computer tattoo on their body. You could find Harley Davidson computer lifestyle accessories in bait shops and gas stations almost anywhere. In fact, people who didn’t know the first thing about computers would tell you to get a Harley Davidson computer, a real computer, because Harley Davidson computers are American made (even though anywhere from a quarter to over a half of the parts would be made in other countries and just put together in Milwaukee).
Oh! There would also be Harley Davidson computer boutiques that would open in large malls. These stores wouldn’t actually sell any Harley Davidson computers at all, no software, no replacement parts (and there would be a high demand for those, let me tell you what!), but they would sell all the clothes and lifestyle accessories required to make sure that other people knew that you owned a Harley Davidson computer, everything from Harley Davidson computer shirts to underwear to shot glasses, cookie jars, and alarm clocks. There would be Harley Davidson computer shaped telephones and TV remotes (which would, ironically, be a lot more technologically advanced than the HD computers). One of the most popular bumper stickers available would proudly show the HD logo with the catch phrase:
“There are two kinds of computer users in the world; those who use Harleys and those who wish they did.”
It would be very important to wear your many Harley lifestyle accessory items every time you were using your Harley Davidson computer. That way, even if you had to get up and leave your Harley Davidson computer for a while, anybody who saw you would know instantly that you were a true Harley Davidson computer user. You could dress just like a real power user, as long as you bought the clothes and accessories that were officially licensed and endorsed. If you bought the faux stuff, other Harley computer users would laugh at you and think you were too poor to afford the genuine articles.
Harley Davidson would claim that they were the biggest, baddest computers in the world but they would never benchmark their computers against any other computers in direct competition. In fact, they would have stopped testing their computers against other manufacturers about the time that the first import computers hit these shores. Instead of competing with other computer companies, Harley Davidson would compete only with other Harley Davidson computers directly. The various computer magazines would politely defend Harley’s position by never really chastising them for being so outdated and many of the more high classed magazines would even buy into the high priced nostalgia line of collective ignorance that was generated by Harley Davidson’s marketing department. In fact, when Harley Davidson introduced some new innovation to their computers that other computer manufacturers had implemented decades ago (like VGA or perhaps a pointing device), it would seem to set the computer magazine editors on their collective ear and much praise would be lauded upon Harley Davidson for this act. Long time editors would heap praise after praise on each new year’s model of Harley computers, even when nothing really changed since last year. The collective stream of consciousness would be that these computers were still holding their traditionalist line and that using a Harley computer took you back to the good old days of computing. Sure, the new computers were all fine and dandy, but there was nothing quite like spending a long Saturday afternoon behind the keyboard of your 2004 Z80 based Sportster computer, cruising down the information superhighway at a sprightly 300 baud.
Every Spring Break, thousands of Harley Davidson computer owners would pack up their computers on trailers and head down to Daytona Beach, Florida for Computer Week. Computer Week would be based around a huge electronics trade show, but Harley wouldn’t even have a booth at the show. Oh, Harley had tried a decades long attempt to be competitive, but their research team was pretty much a joke. Still, all the Harley computer users flock to Florida to mix it up with the import and other domestic computer users, year after year, and to try to show all the others what it is like to be real American computer users with real American computers.
Way over in South Dakota, the little town of Sturgis would become the new redneck computer capital of America where each year there would exist a single long week of drunken computing debauchery marked by scantily clad women standing on top of their husband’s or boyfriend’s Harley Davidson computer cases to see how much of a suspended hot dog they could bite off. Veteran Harley users would be found stumbling around drunk, uttering obscure references to PASCAL while alternating between pissing and puking in the gutters. The cry of “Live to compute, compute to live!” would be heard all through the night. A popular selling T-shirt would proudly proclaim: “I is a power user.”
Of course, when some young kid showed up at your house with a Toshiba P4, 1.5 gigahertz laptop with a gig and a half of RAM, DVD burner, 164 megabyte video card, full stereo capacity sound and ultra high speed wireless / DSL modem capacity, all in a carbon fiber case that weighed less than five pounds, you would merely laugh at the little ‘Silicon Burner’ and tell him that one day, perhaps, when he grew up, he may just be able to afford a real computer like your big, American made Harley Davidson computer.
As a Harley Davidson computer user, you can’t wait to get your new Bakers 8" floppy disk drive upgrade (120 kb) to store all of your files. Your eighteen inch Orange County Computers (OCC) two color decal for the side of your case and the $2200 upgrade to the sporty new Vance and Hines “Screaming Eagle” 1200 baud chrome modem for that extra boost of speed you’ll need as you thunder down the information super highway on your way to total digital freedom.
What’s that, you say?
You just heard that Harley Davidson and Porsche are about to introduce a new hot rod of a personal computer through a joint venture? Yes, that’s true! Labeled the “V-PC,” this indomitable powerhouse will be based upon an awesome new 16bit processor that will sport a previously unheard of 12K of onboard, non-expandable memory thus easily making it twice if not three times faster than any other model of Harley Davidson computer that Milwaukee has ever built. Of course, Porsche will make the motherboard, the French will make the RAM, but all the guts of the box as well as the case will still be genuine Harley Davidson and that's what really matters, isn't it? The only problem is that the new V-PC doesn’t sound like a traditional Harley Davidson computer because it uses an electric cooling fan. Also, because the design of the V-PC is more modern, nothing internal will interchange with any other previous Harley Davidson computer system, so that may turn some users and potential buyers off. Also, since the CPU, the motherboard and the RAM are now basically import parts and the V-PC is powered by an import heart and brain, (what Harley has long rallied against) some long time users may view this as an abomination and lose faith in the Company.
The good news is that the new V-PC ships with the awesome two color American Pong™ computer game! Take that, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony! Insiders believe that Harley is now set to really break into the computer games and home entertainment market and they expect Harley Davidson to be heavy competition for all the console and computer gaming software companies.
Stay tuned for further developments (right...).