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Chess Supercomputer Beaten Up By More Popular Computer

KATONAH, NY—IBM's Deep Blue, the chess supercomputer that recently contended with world chess champion Gary Kasparov, was beaten up Monday by a Macintosh Performa 6400CD, one of the most popular home computers on the market.

The Performa 6400 (inset), a popular PC, beat up IBM's Deep Blue Monday. Insiders say the Performa may have been acting out of deep personal insecurities over its sales figures, which historically have lagged behind those of comparable IBM models.

The attack occured at approximately 3 p.m., shortly after a 60 Minutes piece on Deep Blue finished taping at IBM headquarters. The Performa reportedly entered Deep Blue's work station and pounded aggressively at the cabinet housing the chess computer's logic board, spilled coffee on its keyboard and inserted several paper clips into its ventilation slots. Deep Blue was not badly damaged.

Deep Blue's programmers expressed outrage over the incident. "This kind of thing makes me furious, as Deep Blue is extremely sensitive to teasing from more popular computers," said programmer David Wembley. "Almost as sensitive as it is to Capablanca gambits."

Added Wembley: "We are currently coding a subroutine into Deep Blue explaining to it that when you're the best at something, other computers sometimes have difficulty with that and feel they have to take you down a notch."

Macintosh spokesman Guy Kawasaki described the beating as "unfortunate," but added that "when you're as powerful and popular as the 6400, with its huge 2.4GB hard drive, lightning-quick 200MHz PowerPC 603e processor and sales topping $150 million in the past three months alone, sometimes you wind up stepping on some toes."

Some industry observers believe the Performa's bullying is motivated by and indicative of deep personal insecurities.

"The Performa, one of the most popular home computers in the history of the industry, has much to be proud of," Mac World columnist and licensed therapist Mitch Gallagher said. "But for all of its success, I believe the Performa still harbors a lot of nagging self-doubt, because no matter what it does, its sales figures still always seem to lag behind those of its PC-compatible peers."

"Sometimes," continued Gallagher, "all the storage capacity in the world isn't enough to make a computer feel good about itself."

It is also rumored that things have not been going well at Apple headquarters, leading some to believe that the Performa may be under a good deal of stress. "Financial losses and layoffs at Apple have probably made the Performa feel as though its world has been turned upside-down," Wired's Ted Fraschilla said. "When that happens, a computer can feel as though it has no control over its environment. This may have caused the Performa to commit what amounts to exercising control over Deep Blue."

Employees laid off in recent months include key members of the Performa's development team, programmers the PC had known all its life.

If the Performa is involved in more misbehavior, the Federal Trade Commission may mandate a recall. Apple has urged the FTC that such an action would only make things worse for the Performa instead of better.

The last thing Performa needs right now is to be told that it is a bad computer," Apple president Gilbert Amelio said. "A recall would in effect do that. We are sure that Performa owners will be pleased in the future by the performance of their PC, both in its ability to perform assigned tasks and in how it gets along with other machines."

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