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"In 1970 I found little difficulty staying 30 years ahead of the man in the street, and now I find it difficult to stay 18 months ahead of the man on the street."
- Vernor Vinge

Interactive Suicide Note  
  A last message for the people you are leaving behind - that encourages their participation.  

Victor Apfel receives a phone call telling him to go into the house next door. He finds his neighbor, Charles Kluge, sprawled across the keyboard of his computer with part of his head blown away.

Investigators take a look at his computer.

PROGRAM NAME: GOODBYE REAL WORLD
DATE: 8/20
CONTENTS: LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT; MISC FEATURES
PROGRAMMER: "CHARLES KLUGE"

TO RUN
PRESS ENTER

"Has this console been checked for prints?" Osborne asked. Nobody seemed to know, so Osborne took a pencil and used it to press the ENTER key...

As the music played, a little figure composed entirely of squares entered from the left of the screen and jerked spastically toward the center... The little man extended his arms, which jerked up and down like Liberace at the piano. He was typing.

SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE I MISSED SOMETHING. I SIT HERE, NIGHT AND DAY, A SPIDER IN THE MIDDLE OF A COAXIAL WEB, MASTER OF ALL I SURVEY... AND IT IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE MUST BE MORE.

ENTER YOUR NAME HERE:

"Jesus Christ," Hal said. "I don't believe it. An interactive suicide note."

From Press Enter, by John Varley.
Published by Davis Publications in 1984
Additional resources -

If you are thinking that this is a quirky and imaginative story, you're exactly right. Go read it.

I note in passing that this story really nails the early 1980's computer environment; older readers will enjoy the details, and younger ones will gasp in wonder at the large computer fauna that once roamed the Earth.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Press Enter
  More Ideas and Technology by John Varley
  Tech news articles related to Press Enter
  Tech news articles related to works by John Varley

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