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The Library => Your Stories => Topic started by: Abysmii on 11:08:38 PM 09/19/17

Title: The Curse of William Shockley (Ghostpasta Challenege Entry)
Post by: Abysmii on 11:08:38 PM 09/19/17
   The name William Shockley likely means nothing to you.  However, if you value modern technology to any degree, you just might raise a glass to him if you knew his historical impact.  On the other hand, you might cancel that toast if you knew the truth.
   
    I’ll spare you his life’s story, but know that he was instrumental in developing silicon wafers in the eponymous Silicon Valley.  Every computer, smart-phone, tablet, and so much more, exists because of Shockley’s semi-processors, or “microchips”.

    Shockley was a brilliant scientist and engineer, having done notable work for the United States War Department, Cal Tech, the National Academy of Sciences, and Stanford University, to name a few.  His breakthrough in microchip technology at Bell Labs eventually led to the founding of his own company in Mountain View, California, mundanely named the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory.

    As it is with many erudite minds, sometimes quirks appear.  Despite publicly declaring he was an atheist, it was no secret to his family, friends, or employees that Shockley was acutely interested in the occult.  He spent many a weekend visiting the Winchester House, strolling the grounds and hallways in deep contemplation, and studying biographies of Sarah Winchester.

Around 1957, he began to delve into the melding of technology and spiritualism.  What started with an amateur interest in magic turned into an obsession with biological transcendance.  He became radically fixated on enhancing humanity through robotics and machinery, often approaching young secretaries with offers of increased compensation for strange experiments.  To date, the only experiment that went through was a lie detector test that went on a big too long, but it nevertheless damaged Shockley’s reputation.

    Around the time Shockley began publicly speaking on the benefits and principles of eugenics, as well as abandoning further development of microchips, eight of his most accomplished researchers left the company en masse to form Fairchild Semiconductor.  This competition would spell the end for Shockley’s company, and while his financial future was secure, he would never fully recover from the “Traitorous Eight”.

    So intense was his hatred at the betrayal, that he spent the rest of his life continuing his fringe and extreme experiments.  While the details have never been fully released by his descendents, Shockley began tampering with the effects of millimeter wave radiation on advanced silicon transistors.  It’s generally believed he was trying to transmit his ill-will into the microchips itself, hoping the commercial market would sell them widespread and “infect” every piece of technology in America with a fragment of his ego, thereby cursing those who had betrayed him.

    Shockley died of prostate cancer at the age of 79, no doubt from exposure to radiation.  He died estranged from almost everyone he knew.  His last words were a garbled mess of being remembered and living on through his work.  What was clear, was his repeated curses thrown at the Traitorous Eight and all who disparaged him.  It is unknown how many products his company shipped utilizing the bizarre contraptions before they shut down or if anyone has attempted to locate and isolate the technology.

    What continues to perplex historians, computer scientists, and electrical engineers to this day, is the sharp uptick in bugs, glitches, and other errors in all devices utilizing silicon wafers after Shockley’s death.  No matter how advanced the technology, no matter how refined the materials and techniques, not a day goes by that your tablet doesn’t freeze.  Not a month passes that someone gets an incomprehensible text from an untraceable number.  Not a year ends without unexpected and massive hardware failure in some computer company, somewhere.

A lot of people call it entropy.  I call it Shockley’s Curse.

Written by Abysmii, Copyright 2017
Title: Re: The Curse of William Shockley (Ghostpasta Challenege Entry)
Post by: LionOhDay on 09:20:58 PM 09/20/17
While this story lacks a blatant horror hook it sounds like an urban legend or inside joke amoungst tech guys. Sorta like how people would say any mechanical failure was due to Gremlins.

"   To date, the only experiment that went through was a lie detector test that went on a big too long, but it nevertheless damaged Shockley’s reputation. "

That's the only error I noticed.

Good job Abysmii.
Title: Re: The Curse of William Shockley (Ghostpasta Challenege Entry)
Post by: urkelbot666 on 09:18:46 AM 09/21/17
I really like the idea here, a guy inserting his grudge into a physical technology. It's also an interesting take on a ghost story. I was wishing that there was a bit more here though. I realize that keeping a story in the realm of reality puts certain constraints on it, which is fine.

I was also a little confused by the logistics of the ending. I think I understand the ending, that Shockley's essence lingers in certain technologies and causes problems. Is his grudge living on in the makeup of the physical technology, or maybe its inherent design? Is the grudge present in technologies developed by Fairchild? Does his ill-will transmit through technology? I mean, like... if an "infected" machine builds a new machine in a factory, does that new machine inherit some of the ill will? Though I wouldn;t want any concrete rules set down, I feel like a little more detail might have made it have more of an impact for me, but I can be a little dense sometimes x3

In any case, I thought the writing was pretty good here, and I do like the idea a lot. I just found myself wanting a little bit more. Next time my laptop crashes, I'll know who to blame...
Title: Re: The Curse of William Shockley (Ghostpasta Challenege Entry)
Post by: Lalirtra on 03:23:57 AM 11/15/17
I have a very good lecture. I understand all