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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 10:34 GMT
You've guessed IT ... maybe

What is "IT", the secret invention which top US business figures are hailing as "revolutionary"? BBC News Online users have not been short of suggestions.

Since rumours of a book about the birth of an earth-shattering new invention - codename "IT" or Ginger - leaked from Harvard Business School Press, speculation about what IT is has been rife.

Click here to visit BBC News Online's own rumour mill

Rolf Harris and art creation
"Can you guess what IT is yet?"
Extracts from the book proposal said IT would "profoundly" change the way people around the world lived and cause the built environment around us to be transformed.

IT inventor Dean Kamen has described the leaking of the document - and the excitement it has prompted - as "unfortunate".

Mr Kamen, the millionaire responsible for the stair-climbing wheel chair, says the glowing praise for his invention included in the proposal has been repeated without the balancing "doubts, risks and maybes".

As a result, IT - which seemed to have been given an unqualified thumbs-up by Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos and Apple Mac guru Steve Jobs - has become the subject of "spirited speculation" and "expectations beyond the mere whimsical," he says.

But while Mr Kamen remains reticent about his merely "promising" brainchild, BBC News Online users have been sending in their ideas about what IT is or (Mr Kamen, take note) should be. The following is just a selection of the many entries.


Peter Mork: "If all those wonderful things are true, IT could only be one thing: a machine which turns human stupidity into electric energy.

Albert Einstein
"If i equals hydrogen and k equals stupidity."
Albert Einstein is believed to have said: 'There are only two things which can be found everywhere in the Universe, hydrogen and human stupidity. Although I am not sure about the first.'"

Richard Smith: "I think IT's an anti-gravity device, or possibly a mind-reading helmet (for internet surfing say)."

Colin Ewart: "IT could be a bus shelter that actually shelters a bus."

Mark Willing: "IT is probably a new fabric softener - one that gives us five types of softness and removes any unsightly 'bobbling' on the wearer's clothes, and body."

Arti Buxi: "I think IT is 'Beam me up, Scottie' come true."

Anthony O'Krongly: "Chances are IT is something we have already seen - only slightly different - or something we can live without. What's one more motorised scooter or games console?"

Dr Who with a dalek
"Only one round of toast today, Ginger."
James Ferris: "Could Mr Kamen have successfully created artificial intelligence? Are we going to have talking toasters and flippant computers like in Red Dwarf?

BSD Chapman: "IT is a universal translator that will allow men to understand women."

Geoff James: "IT is a hi-tech portable toilet."

Willem Bloem: "IT is, of course, the emperor's new clothes."

Ravi Jagannadhan: "It doesn't make sense for people like George W Bush and Steve Jobs, to visit [Mr Kamen] for nothing. IT might have something to do with energy consumption. George W Bush always said he wants a self-sufficient America."

Paul Kiddey: "Quite clearly IT is a Tetrapack [milk carton] that actually works."

Gregg Edwards: "He has discovered the meaning of life?"

George Roper: "I live in Walsall and IT is ugly."

Mekon from the Dan Dare comics
Mekons sit on IT
Colin Smith: "IT is a helium balloon that inflates at the local garage and you sit on. If you are bald, you'll look like the Mekon from a Dan Dare comic strip."

Marc Francis: "IT is something that gives you the precise reason why Windows just crashed."

R Watts: "IT is 99% hype and 1% battery-powered, re-chargeable, foldable, lightweight, overpriced scooter. It will only be popular among affluent US teenagers whose parents will buy them anything they want, college students and desperate stock investors."

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See also:

12 Jan 01 | UK
Will 'IT' change your life?
02 Jun 00 | Health
Super wheelchair tackles stairs
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