[SIGCIS-Members] Is it a myth that David Letterman had a Top Ten List about the Pentium bug?

Paul Ivanov pi at berkeley.edu
Fri Aug 14 19:08:24 PDT 2020

Ellen Spertus, on 2020-08-14 15:00,  wrote:
> I remain skeptical, because of the information (and absence of
> information) that I cite, but I think I should drop it if David
> Patterson is adamant that it happened.It's not a matter of
> great historic importance, just a minor curiosity.

I think your scepticism is well placed, Ellen, and the Royal
Society motto "Nullius in verba" ("Take nobody's word for it")
certainly comes to mind.

I took the liberty of contacting Don Giller, an authoritative
Letterman archivist (see
) and he categorically rejects the existence of a Pentium bug
Top Ten list from the show.

As nice of a story as it would have been to have floating point
humour in the late night show cannon,  it seems that this one
isn't true. 

Don Giller, on 2020-08-15 00:27,  wrote:
> Hi, Paul,
> First, thanks for the twitter follow. Appreciated!
> Second, nope, no Top Ten List, ever.
> The only mention of the Pentium issue was during his monologue
> on December 15, 1994:
> "You know, you know what you can do if you have any of those
> defective Pentium computer chips? You know what I’m talking
> about? If you have any of those defective Pentium computer
> chips, get yourself some defective Pentium salsa, uhmm! I’m
> telling you, unbelievable! Knock yourself out."
> Don
> -----Original Message-----
> Sent: Fri, Aug 14, 2020 7:46 pm
> Subject: Letterman Top 10 list about Pentium bug?
> Hi Don,
> There's a email thread on the SIGCIS list (Special Interest Group
> for Computing, Information, and Society) that piqued my interest
> that you might be in a position to shed some light on.
> To the best of your knowledge and databases, did David Letterman
> ever have a top 10 list about the pentium bug? See the original
> email attached, it seems like if it happened it was in late 1994
> or early 1995.
> If you're curious about what other people have said  - see the 
> "Is it a myth that David Letterman had a Top Ten List about the
> Pentium bug?" thread on the list archives here:
> http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/2020-August/thread.html
> best,
> pi

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Paul Ivanov
https://pirsquared.org | GPG/PGP key id: 0x0F3E28F7 

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