Open up a game nowadays and you might get a warranty card disguised as a manual. Get a new computer, and you might get a fold-out poster showing where all of the color coded plugs go. But hop into the Nostalgia Machine, and you might discover how weighty manuals were back then when they couldn’t stuff all of that information into a game or when companies needed to explain how PCs worked with ring bound booklets.
But how about a manual that ranted against the idea of DRM before it was known as DRM? A post on Ironic Sans (thanks BoingBoing), a site run by professional photographer, David Friedman, has a few snippets of a manual for the Franklin Ace 100 from the early eighties that rants against copy protection. Seriously. And this was from a PC manufacturer. Here’s an excerpt:
The rest of the manual was also as humorously written and you can read the whole thing on Ironic Sans. Though the writer probably couldn’t foresee the impact that technology such as torrents, FTPs, usenet, IRC, would bring to the table in conversations on piracy, some of what he says resonates pretty strongly almost thirty years later when brought up against draconian approaches like Ubisoft’s online DRM.
It’s also too bad that no one can get away with even a little humor within manuals due to someone that might take it seriously. It’s probably along the same lines of why the trash talking in ads between console manufacturers had died out. For example, I can bet that you won’t see a PS3 ad making fun of how many discs it takes for Xbox 360 owners to play FFXIII in the same way that Square had openly mocked cartridges (and the Nintendo 64 at the time) with a two page spread for FFVII.
But it would probably have been funny.