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sorry about that

Sorry About The Explosion!

Sorry About the Explosion! was a 1985 Prentice-Hall book of humor about the beginnings of the personal computer industry detailing the imaginary exploits of Kitchen Table International (KTI), “the world’s leading supplier of fictitious hardware, software, firmware, and limpware.” Never a best-seller, it achieved cult status largely from the popularity of the monthly KTI columns contributed by author and computer journalist David D. Busch to Wayne Green’s 80 Microcomputing magazine from 1980-1983, and the first (and only) Best Fiction Book award given by the Computer Press Association in 1986. The title of the book came from the subject line of a "memo" in the book from KTI R & D director Otto Wirk to company president Scott Nolan Hollerith sheepishly explaining that the organization's latest product had an MTBE (Mean Time Between Explosions) of only 100 hours.

Although not as pointed as the classic The Devil’s DP Dictionary by Stan Kelly-Bootle, the book, and the Kitchen Table International columns it was largely based upon, poked fun at the foibles of companies like Apple Computer, Radio Shack, Commodore, and Atari in an era when the early computer magazines were filled with technical articles, code listings, and discussions of the latest and greatest hardware, and not much regular humor.

The book contained a mixture of blurbs for imaginary KTI products, such as an “innovative” “black phosphor” computer monitor, and actual type-them-yourself BASIC program listings (which were typical in magazines of the era) for real software such as a phony OS shell called PP/M, Mean Eliza (an AI program that insulted you), and a program generator called Random BASIC, which asked the user various questions about desired data fields, kinds of reports required, and user’s astrological sign, and then generated random subroutines that were assembled into a program designed to do unexpected things. Another module was the world’s slowest sorting algorithm, Random Sort, which re-ordered any list input over and over until it was accidentally arranged in the correct order.

Prior to the publication of the book, the creation of Kitchen Table International was outlined in an article in 80 Microcomputing, "Dateline: Sri Lanka" by John P. Mello, Jr. When the KTI column ceased publication in July, 1983, Busch collected all the existing material, reorganized it by topic, and wrote new pieces to produce Sorry About The Explosion.

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