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The "pet rock" of the computer generation has emerged from a Salt Lake advertising agency.

Intrigued by the slang and subculture evolving from the high-tech computer industry, local advertising executives Rick Nord and Don Hallock have come up with what they hope is a long-lasting fad for computer nerds and illiterates alike.Their creation is the computer "Glitch," a small plastic cartoonlike figurine, complete with the character's "glitchology" and directions on how the tiny doll can rid your computer of bad commands, memory loss and keyboard lockups.

Place the Glitch on or near your terminal and the problem vexing your computer system mysteriously disappears.

"Glitches are extremely vain. When they see their likeness, they are drawn to it uncontrollably, like flies to a bug light. As long as you keep your Glitch figure near your monitor (which is the gateway), they'll come out and swarm around it," directions on the package say.

With the glitches surrounding their likeness, they're not in the computer system messing things up.

Of course this is all a joke and part of the plan to market the things, and Nord and Hallock hope their humor will sell alongside the dry, technical and intimidating computer.

"All of this is tongue and cheek and an outlet for the irritants" bothering most computer users, Nord said.

"Everyone blames problems like losing computer files or system crashes on glitches, when most of them result because of the user."

Nord said he sent a set of Glitches to NASA recently after reading that the space agency blamed delays in a space shuttle launch on technical glitches.

"They sent a letter back and thanked me. I also sent some to the IRS, but I haven't heard anything from them yet," Nord said.

A computer novice himself, Nord found the lingo surrounding computer problems somewhat strange - strange enough to start his creative cogs turning and come up with a product to market.

Teaming up with art director Hallock, the pair initially came up with about 40 different names, then narrowed the list down to the 12 most common glitches known to computer users.

Working together as Glitch Associates - not affiliated with their advertising firm Nord Advertising in Salt Lake City - Hallock designed the characters and packaging, while Nord came up with the written word on the box and comic strip accompanying each doll. The strip illustrates the Glitch in action as it tries to ruin the day for secretary Ms. Ann Thrope.

He feels confident the product, retailing for $4.95 each, will take off much like the pet rock did in the 1970s - when consumers became curiously enamored with a plain rock packed in a box that facetiously explained how to care for it.

But to avoid the quick death suffered by the pet rock fad, Nord and Hallock have produced a series of Glitches to collect. The pair has also designed an array of T-shirts, pocket protectors and other products to accompany the Glitch.

Glitch Associates has their product manufactured in China and Hong Kong. Nord received his first order of 90,000 Glitches just in time to show them off at a gift trade show in Chicago last summer. He said reaction has been positive and he has filled orders for several gift shops and computer retail outlets around the country.

Nord, who said he and Hallock have spent $80,000 to launch their Glitch venture, anticipates secretaries, wanting to doll up and personalize their work areas, and kids, who want to collect all 12, as the primary market for Glitches.

He said he has received an order for Glitches from Bloomingdales in New York and hopes to have them on the shelves of local department stores before Christmas.