On his way to the office, Grenshaw passed the computer shop and noticed someone inside. For the first time since he’d been aware of its existence, the store was open. He decided to check it out.
When he walked through the doors, Grenshaw noticed that the place was unusually bare. It looked more like an empty art studio than a high-tech establishment. In fact, he couldn’t see any computers.
In the back of the store, a white countertop seemed to be floating in the air. A man seated on a stool behind the countertop was bent over, examining something closely. He was wearing glasses and watchmaker’s loupes. Grenshaw cleared his throat, and the man looked up.
“Is this GCF Computers?” Grenshaw asked.
“Sure is. Powered by the state of your mind.” He removed his glasses.
“So,” – Grenshaw looked around the shop – “where are they?”
“Oh, they’re right here,” he said, tapping on the countertop. He motioned for Grenshaw to approach, pulled a small square off the countertop, and held it up for Grenshaw to see. It was about the size of a saltine cracker. Grenshaw looked again at the countertop, which, he now saw, was entirely comprised of these little squares.
“That’s it?” He couldn’t believe it.
“Where’s the monitor? Where’s the power supply?”
“GCF Computers uses an advanced form of wireless energy transfer. Basically, it’s powered by electromagnetic vibrations emanating from other power sources around its vicinity.”
“So it steals energy?”
“Well, no. Most power sources are inefficient. They lose 20 to 30 percent of the energy they’re attempting to transfer. A GCF computer runs on that lost energy.”
“Fascinating.” Grenshaw wondered if such a method could work in factories. What if he could cut costs in his production plants? “Must be expensive.”
“The wireless energy receiver? Actually, it’s fairly cheap, especially considering that it requires no maintenance or monthly expense.”
“Hmm.” Grenshaw gave an impressed nod. “And what about the monitor?”
“Ah, that’s what’s really special about a GCF. It’s a little harder to explain, though.” The man walked around the counter. “Here. I’ll give you a demonstration.” He circled behind Grenshaw. “I’m just going to put this temporary collar on you.” He attached the small computer to a U-shaped band and hooked it to the back of Grenshaw’s neck.
Grenshaw thought he heard the man mutter, “interesting,” but then he heard someone else say, “Welcome to the GCF user interface trial.” He searched the room for the source of the voice.
The man walked in front of him. “So you’ve probably heard the introduction?”
“Yes,” he answered tentatively.
“We’ll start with the basics. You use a computer at your place of business, yes?”
“What’s the most recent stuff you’ve done?”
He thought back on the previous day’s work, and as soon as he remembered, a transparent chart projecting the year’s profits flashed before his eyes. “How. . .”
“I assume you’re seeing some sort of chart or spreadsheet? That’s actually one of the more obtrusive programs on the GCF. Most of them don’t have such a clear visual interface.”
Grenshaw was amazed. “How much does one of these cost?”
“Well, we have a sliding scale. GCF Computers are lifestyle computers. Every aspect of their interaction with the user is relative to that particular user.”
“So you’re saying the cost depends on the buyer?”
“That’s the craziest business model I’ve ever heard of.”
“Oh, we’re not concerned about making money. We’re in the business of improving life.”
Was this guy for real? He sounded like he was reading from a promotional brochure.
“If you’re interested in purchasing one, we ask that you fill out this application; we’ll get back to you within a week’s time.” The man handed Grenshaw a booklet, titled “GCF Computers: Application for Ownership.” It was 30 pages.
He took it and asked for a pen.
to be continued . . .