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December 31, 2007

Netscape Was Still Around? That’s Just the Beginning


The date was September 17, 1996, and the man on the radio announced shocking news: Spiro Agnew had died.


I couldn’t believe it! Spiro Agnew? Spiro Agnew was still around?


To the extent that I had any thought whatsoever on the status of Spiro Agnew, I would have probably guessed he had died about 15 years earlier, but apparently not.


That’s about how I felt when I heard the news today, oh boy, about a web browser that didn’t make the grade. AOL has announced that Netscape has been discontinued.


Now I know what you’re thinking. The same thing I was thinking: Netscape was still around?


Apparently very few people were aware of this, and the few who were didn’t bother with Netscape because Mozilla’s Firefox browser was just like it but better. So AOL managed to shock Americans everywhere by announcing that it was only just now doing what most people probably figured they had done years ago.


Come to think of it . . . AOL is still around?


I hate it when someone dies that I thought was already dead. One of these days Abe Vigoda is going to make a lot of you feel that way. Likewise, it annoys me when a company goes out of business or a product or service is discontinued – and I thought it was long since accomplished.


But you’d be surprised how many things are still around that you thought were long gone.


Do you know when Western Union discontinued telegram services? Go ahead, guess. Maybe 1985? Try January 31, 2006. I know. I had the same reaction. You could still send a telegram two years ago?


Stop. I wonder if the guy in the bow tie still showed up at your house and delivered it on the yellow paper with the mimeograph type. Stop!


Did you know they still make Tab Cola? This came as a shock to me, but there is actually a web site called ILoveTab.com, and it currently features an interview with an absolute Tab fanatic named Jennifer, who explains:


“I am the ONLY person I know who drinks TaB! My husband thinks it’s weird. Most of my friends say they have some older aunt or something that still drinks it, but they don’t . . . I’m trying to convert them as well as my coworkers.”


Jennifer, you are weird. But don’t feel bad. Most of the other CEOs I know are weird too, and no one who drinks green tea has any business laughing at you.

But still. Tab? I mean . . . TaB? She even spells it like they do on the can. Now that’s a devotee. Tab was unveiled in 1963 because Coca-Cola wanted to make a low-calorie cola, but at the time it had a policy of never using the names Coke or Coca-Cola on anything other than its flagship product. So Tab was born. When the policy changed years later and they introduced Diet Coke, everyone stopped drinking Tab and they stopped making it.


Or so we thought.


Next someone is going to tell you they still make 8-tracks. And that someone is me. They still make 8-tracks. Seriously. The major record labels stopped making them around 1988 (surprised it took them that long, aren’t you?), but there are small independents like Dallas-based Inactive 8 Entertainment that still make them. So the next time you take your Chevy Nova out for a spin, you’ll be ready to jam.


Is there nothing you can depend on anymore? I half expect to turn on my TV tonight and find out that they’re still making new episodes of “Happy Days.” Mrs. Krause will see the shocked look on my face and say, “Oh, sure, D.F., they’ve been making them all along. It’s just that no one watches anymore. Fonzie needs a walker and Mr. C is 125 years old, but they’re still making it.”


It’s almost as if you discovered that they still make “60 Minutes” and all those same old guys are still on there. And Andy Rooney too. OK. Let’s not be ridiculous.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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