The Apostrophic War

From: Miles O'Neal <>
Date: Thu Jan 7 09:55:30 1999 said...
|So don't dismiss it too soon if someone says the computer won't let them do

Years ago my dad got fed up with the fact that he
had a couple dozen gas, credit and other cards with
our name spelled without an apostrophe. He called,
wrote letters, and generally waged a one man war.
People were calling back begging him to please keep
the cards, the computers did it, there was no way.
Dad eventually cut most of them up and sent them
back. He even had a VP or two call him!

Dad had an ace in the hole. He knew a COBOL programmer,
who explained that it was just basically stupidity,
laziness, or being overly clever that led to these
problems, and reminded him that our bank used computers
and COBOL, and that everything related to us at the
bank had apostrophes in our name.

Dad eventually did manage to talk to MIS people at
a couple of the companies, and after a bit of argument
they agreed that this would be resolved within a year.
Dad was amazed that it would take this long, but when
they talked about budgets and politics he calmed down
(since he was head of a college chemistry department
and acting dean). Eventually they came through.

I've always wondered just how much Dad's private war
had to do with the fact that today, the commercial
computer program that won't take apostrophes in a
name (at least in the USA 8^) is rare. Now if the
programmers would just program searches to try it
with and without the apostrophe when one is entered
(since people still leave them out on occasion...)

Received on Thu Jan 07 1999 - 09:55:30 GMT

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