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10 Cool Things About Carl Sagan


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Sued Apple for Using His Moniker as a Codename
In addition to his other activities, Carl Sagan was also an anti-nuclear weapon advocate. Here, he speaks at the Great Peace March in Washington, D.C., 1986. © Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis
In addition to his other activities, Carl Sagan was also an anti-nuclear weapon advocate. Here, he speaks at the Great Peace March in Washington, D.C., 1986. © Joseph Sohm/Visions of America/Corbis

Apple engineers, fond of codenames, in 1994 dubbed the Power Macintosh 7100 "Carl Sagan" in reference to Sagan's supposed catchphrase, "billions and billions." The computer would make "billions and billions" of dollars for Apple, they hoped.

But this internal codename rubbed Sagan the wrong way. He worried that if news of the codename leaked to the public, it could be misconstrued as an endorsement. Sagan fired off a letter to Apple, insisting the company change the codename. Apple's engineers were quick to comply. They switched the codename to BHA, an acronym for "butt-head astronomer."

The move prompted Sagan to sue for libel; the case was dismissed, with the judge writing that "one does not seriously attack the expertise of a scientist using the undefined phrase, 'butt-head.'"

Sagan sued a second time, lost and began a lengthy appeal process. Sagan and Apple settled the suit in 1995. Apple engineers then changed the codename to LAW, for "Lawyers are Wimps."

Despite its string of codenames, the 7100 never did make billions [sources: Davidson, Heisler].


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