Klingon (Not For Dummies)

January 19, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Bill Gates may have a new enemy, and this one’s got more photon torpedoes than the Justice Department. Klingons, the fiercest warrior race in the universe (or, at least, on Star Trek), have joined the cutthroat world of software. For years, extremist Trekkie factions have spoken Klingon, but now a programming language based on the harsh, guttural dialect pits them against such giants as Sun and Microsoft. Called Var’aq (Va-RAHK), the language enables programmers to create videogames and word-processing software using the alien prose. Software developers have been busy testing the lingo (geocities.com/connorbd/varaq) since creator Brian Connors released it on the Net last summer. The gig was tough: Because Star Trek never explained how Klingon computers actually work, Connors had to dream all that up. Now he’s trying to develop Var’aq 2.0. How to satisfy the geeks of Earth? Says Connors, ”I’m getting a lot of criticism that it’s not alien enough.”

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