4 Overshadowed BCSs

Original Apple cofounder, Steve Jobs, use the Boston Computer's Society to make product announcements.
Original Apple cofounder, Steve Jobs, use the Boston Computer's Society to make product announcements.
JOHN MOTTERN, Getty Images

Before the Bowl Championship Series tarnished the "BCS" acronym for all time "“ or at least until college football institutes a playoff system "“ the Bangladesh Civil Service, Berkhamsted Collegiate School, and British Cardiovascular Society carried on in relative obscurity. As Florida and Oklahoma prepare for Thursday's BCS Championship Game, let's turn the spotlight on some of the lesser-known BCSs, both past and present.

1. Boston Computer Society

Jonathan Rotenberg founded the Boston Computer Society in 1977 at the age of 13 to provide an information-sharing forum for fellow owners of personal computers. While similar user groups emerged throughout the country in the ensuing years, none were as successful as Rotenberg's, which offered computer classes and meetings, and published three magazines. According to the Boston Globe, the Boston Computer Society boasted 32,000 members in 50 states and 40 countries at its peak in the early 1990s. Computer companies, including Apple, used the society's gatherings to make major product announcements; the Apple Macintosh made its East Coast debut at a Boston Computer Society meeting in 1984.

With personal computers becoming an increasingly regular part of everyday life and sources for information about computers growing by the day, Rotenberg decided to leave the group in 1990. "I had spent a long time puzzling through what a redesigned BCS might look like," he recalled in the Globe, "and I wasn't able to come up with an answer." Sound familiar? Facing serious financial problems and with membership down to 18,000, the society voted to dissolve in 1996.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: Computers are really cool and all, but they probably shouldn't decide college football national champions.

2. British Crime Survey

The British Crime Survey is an annual measure of crime in England and Wales. The survey, which was conducted biennially from its beginning in 1982 until 2000, is comprised of questions for crime victims about the circumstances of any crimes they experienced in the past year. The survey has proved to be an especially valuable measure of domestic violence and sex crimes, which are often unreported to the police.

The British government has used the information collected in the British Crime Survey to establish specific crime reduction programs and to measure these programs' effectiveness from one year to the next. The survey also provides a measure of the public's perception of the criminal justice system and attitude toward crime. According to the survey, crime in England and Wales has been nearly cut in half since 1995.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: Crime may be down in England, but assaults (USC on Penn State), robberies (Utah being denied a shot at a national championship), and indecent exposure incidents (Virginia Tech and Cincinnati playing in the Orange Bowl) are all on the rise in college football.

3. Bulk Cash Smuggling

Bulk Cash Smuggling is the undeclared transfer of more than $10,000 in currency "“ most often in the form of cold hard cash "“ into or out of the United States. The U.S. Patriot Act of 2001 made the practice—which is a means of avoiding U.S. currency reporting requirements—punishable by a prison sentence of up to 5 years. In addition, the offender is required to forfeit to the U.S. government all currency or other monetary instruments involved in the attempted operation.

In 2005, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement teamed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to launch Operation Firewall, a program designed to curtail Bulk Cash Smuggling. In 2007, Operation Firewall resulted in the seizure of nearly $50 million. For comparison's sake, that's about $15 million more than the combined payout Florida and Oklahoma will receive for playing in Thursday's game.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: A failure to declare "“ be it money or a legitimate national champion "“ is criminal.

4. Baja California Sur

Baja California Sur comprises the southern half of the Baja California peninsula. Since becoming a Mexican state in 1974, the formerly isolated region has slowly evolved into a destination hotspot for tourists. The state is home to the resorts Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, as well as the city of Loreto, which was the first Spanish settlement on the Baja California Peninsula and the capital of Las Californias from 1697-1777.

Other points of cultural significance in Baja California Sur include a church in the city of Santa Rosalia that was supposedly designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the capital city of La Paz, where Hernan Cortes first set foot in 1535. If you saw the movie Troy, you're familiar with Baja California Sur; production for the film was moved from Morocco to the peninsula due to the impending war in Iraq.

What the Bowl Championship Series could learn from this BCS: After staging an absurd 34 games this season, the college football powers that be should make it a goal to keep the number of bowl games in future years below the number of Mexican states (31).

This Course Will Teach You How to Play Guitar Like a Pro for $29

BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images
BartekSzewczyk/iStock via Getty Images

Be honest: You’ve watched a YouTube video or two in an attempt to learn how to play a song on the guitar. Whether it was through tabs or simply copying whatever you saw on the screen, the fun always ends when friends start throwing out requests for songs you have no idea how to play. So how about you actually learn how to play guitar for real this time?

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The strumming course will teach you how to count beats and rests to turn your hands and fingers into the perfect accompaniment for your own voice or other musicians. Then, you can take things a step further and learn advanced jamming and soloing to riff anytime, anywhere. This course will teach you to improvise across various chords and progressions so you can jump into any jam with something original. You’ll also have the chance to dive deep into the major guitar genres of bluegrass, blues, and jazz. Lessons in jam etiquette, genre history, and how to read music will separate you from a novice player.

This bundle also includes courses in ear training so you can properly identify any relative note, interval, or pitch. That way, you can play along with any song when it comes on, or even understand how to modify it into the key you’d prefer. And when the time comes to perform, be prepared with skilled hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends, trills, vibrato, and fret-tapping. Not only will you learn the basic foundations of guitar, you’ll ultimately be able to develop your own style with the help of these lessons.

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11 Fascinating Facts About Tamagotchi

Tamagotchi is the toy that launched a thousand digital pet competitors.
Tamagotchi is the toy that launched a thousand digital pet competitors.
Chesnot/Getty Images News

They blooped and beeped and ate, played, and pooped, and, for ‘90s kids, the egg-shaped Tamagotchi toys were magic. They taught the responsibility of tending to a “pet,” even though their shrill sounds were annoying to parents and teachers and school administrators. Nearly-real funerals were held for expired Tamagotchi, and they’ve even been immortalized in a museum (of sorts). Here are 11 things you should know about the keychain toy that was once stashed in every kid’s backpack.

1. The idea for the Tamagotchi came from a female office worker at Bandai.

Aki Maita was a 30-year-old “office lady” at the Japanese toy company Bandai when inspiration struck. She wanted to create a pet for kids—one that wouldn't bark or meow, make a mess in the house, or lead to large vet bills, according to Culture Trip. Maita took her idea to Akihiro Yokoi, a toy designer at another company, and the duo came up with a name and backstory for their toy: Tamagotchis were aliens, and their egg served as protection from the Earth’s atmosphere. They gave prototype Tamagotchis to high school girls in Shibuya, and tweaked and honed the design of the toy based on their feedback.

2. The name Tamagotchi is a blend of two Japanese words.

The name Tamagotchi is a mashup between the Japanese words tamago and tomodachi, or egg and friend, according to Culture Trip. (Other sources have the name meaning "cute little egg" or "loveable egg.")

3. Tamagotchis were released in Japan in 1996.

A picture of a tamagotchi toy.
Tamagotchis came from a faraway planet called "Planet Tamagotchi."
Museum Rotterdam, Wikimedia Commons//CC BY-SA 3.0

Bandai released the Tamagotchi in Japan in November 1996. The tiny plastic keychain egg was equipped with a monochrome LCD screen that contained a “digital pet,” which hatched from an egg and grew quickly from there—one day for a Tamagotchi was equivalent to one year for a human. Their owners used three buttons to feed, discipline, play with, give medicine to, and clean up after their digital pet. It would make its demands known at all hours of the day through bloops and bleeps, and owners would have to feed it or bathe it or entertain it.

Owners that successfully raised their Tamagotchi to adulthood would get one of seven characters, depending on how they'd raised it; owners that were less attentive faced a sadder scenario. “Leave one unattended for a few hours and you'll return to find that it has pooped on the floor or, worse, died,” Wired wrote. The digital pets would eventually die of old age at around the 28-day mark, and owners could start fresh with a new Tamagotchi.

4. Tamagotchis were an immediate hit.

The toys were a huge success—4 million units were reportedly sold in Japan during their first four months on shelves. By 1997, Tamagotchis had made their way to the United States. They sold for $17.99, or around $29 in today's dollars. One (adult) reviewer noted that while he was "drawn in by [the Tamagotchi's] cleverness," after several days with the toy, "the thrill faded quickly. I'm betting the Tamagotchi will be the Pet Rock of the 1990s—overwhelmingly popular for a few months, and then abandoned in the fickle rush to some even cuter toy."

The toy was, in fact, overwhelmingly popular: By June 1997, 10 million of the toys had been shipped around the world. And according to a 2017 NME article, a whopping 82 million Tamagotchi had been sold since their release into the market in 1997.

5. Aki Maita and Akihiro Yokoi won an award for inventing the Tamagotchi.

In 1997, the duo won an Ig Nobel Prize in economics, a satiric prize that’s nonetheless presented by Nobel laureates at Harvard, for "diverting millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets" by creating the Tamagotchi.

6. Tamagotchis weren't popular with teachers.

Some who grew up with Tamagotchi remember sneaking the toys into school in their book bags. The toys were eventually banned in some schools because they were too distracting and, in some cases, upsetting for students. In a 1997 Baltimore Sun article titled “The Tamagotchi Generation,” Andrew Ratner wrote that the principal at his son’s elementary school sent out a memo forbidding the toys “because some pupils got so despondent after their Tamagotchis died that they needed consoling, even care from the school nurse.”

7. One pet cemetery served as a burial ground for expired Tamagotchi.

Terry Squires set aside a small portion of his pet cemetery in southern England for dead Tamagotchi. He told CNN in 1998 that he had performed burials for Tamagotchi owners from Germany, Switzerland, France, the United States, and Canada, all of whom ostensibly shipped their dead by postal mail. CNN noted that "After the Tamagotchis are placed in their coffins, they are buried as mourners look on, their final resting places topped with flowers."

8. There were many copycat Tamagotchi.

The success of the Tamagotchi resulted in both spin-offs and copycat toys, leading PC Mag to dub the late ’90s “The Golden Age of Virtual Pets.” There was the Digimon, a Tamagotchi spin-off by Bandai that featured monsters and was marketed to boys. (There were also Tamagotchi video games.) And in 1997, Tiger Electronics launched Giga Pets, which featured real animals (and, later, dinosaurs and fictional pets from TV shows). According to PC Mag, Giga Pets were very popular in the United States but “never held the same mystique as the original Tamagotchi units.” Toymaker Playmates's Nano Pets were also a huge success, though PC Mag noted they were “some of the least satisfying to take care of."

9. Rare Tamagotchis can be worth a lot of money.

According to Business Insider, most vintage Tamagotchis won't fetch big bucks on the secondary market. (On eBay, most are priced at around $50.) The exception are rare editions like “Yasashii Blue” and “Tamagotchi Ocean,” which go for $300 to $450 on eBay. As Complex notes, "There were over 40 versions (lines) of Tamagotchi released, and each line featured a variety of colors and variations ... yours would have to be one of the rarest models to be worth the effort of resale."

10. A new generation of Tamagotchis were released in 2017 for the toy's 20th anniversary.

The 2017 re-release of the Tamagotchi in its packaging.
Bandai came to the aid of nostalgic '90s kids when it re-released a version of the original Tamagotchis for the toy's 20th anniversary.
Chesnot/Getty Images

In November 2017, Bandai released a 20th anniversary Tamagotchi that, according to a press release [PDF], was "a first-of-its-kind-anywhere exact replica of the original Tamagotchi handheld digital pet launched ... in 1996." However, as The Verge reported, the toys weren't an exact replica: "They're about half the size, the LCD display is square rather than rectangle, and those helpful icons on the top and bottom of the screen seem to be gone now." In 2019, new Tamagotchis were released; they were larger than the originals, featured full-color displays, and retailed for $60.

11. The original Tamagotchi’s sound has been immortalized in a virtual museum.

The Museum of Endangered Sounds is a website that seeks to immortalize the digital sounds that become extinct as we hurtle through the evolution of technology. “The crackle of a dial-up modem. The metallic clack of a 3.5-inch floppy slotting into a Macintosh disk drive. The squeal of the newborn Tamagotchi. They are vintage sounds that no oldies station is ever going to touch,” The Washington Post wrote in a 2012 profile of the museum. So, yes, the sound of that little Tamagotchi is forever preserved, should it someday, very sadly, cease to exist completely.