Even if you’ve only been working the IT service desk for a year or two, you no doubt have some of your own “Remember When …” stories. If you’re a younger worker, you may have heard older IT workers lament about tape backups, mainframes, or the days of fixing problems by “sneakernet” (which, to be fair, sometimes still has to be done).
Here’s some nostalgia collected from around the web about computer incidents from the olden days.
Why 2K? Why Not?
What were you up to the night of December 31, 1999? Better yet, if you were in IT at that time, what did you do in the months leading up to it? One IT worker from that era recalled a user from 1999 with a special request: “Recently we had an order for a bunch cabling work. The customer specified that the cables must be Y2K compliant.”
For many people, the reality of Y2K was anticlimactic enough that it’s easy to forget that a lot of people did a lot of work leading up to that date in order to avert problems, like this person:
“I worked for an outsourcer with a major Canadian bank as a major customer, and was assigned as the shift manager for 2nd shift (i.e. 6 am – 2 pm Jan 1). I showed up at 6 am at the control room and was told that 10 of the 11 people who were to show up were already called and told to stay home because it was so quiet. We had only 2 minor problems — one on the mainframe and one on a Unix box, both associated with dates displaying incorrectly in logs. Quite a letdown!
“We had arranged for satellite TV in our ‘crisis centre’ so I and the few other people in the building could keep up on the news. So at least it wasn’t a total loss — we could sit around and watch TV.”
Rage Against the Media
As long as computer media have existed, humans have had problems with it. While some of us are old enough to remember when 5.25-inch floppy disks were the pinnacle of technology, the truth is, as long as portable storage media exists, people will find ways of mishandling it.
One thread participant on a Spiceworks discussion recalled a floppy disk user who helpfully made some copies:
“One chap was having problems with a program loading off a floppy. He didn’t want to send the original to me (it was a very expensive piece of software at the time — 1987) so I told him it would be OK to send a copy. The next day I get an envelope containing a photocopy of a floppy disk.”
CDs certainly held more information, but that didn’t stop people from abusing them. From the same thread:
“One user placed one of those small-sized demo CDs into the floppy drive…Another user managed to ‘insert’ her CD in the ‘slot’ underneath the CD player — causing it to fall completely into the computer case.”
Elvis May Have Left the Building, But Not This Computer
And then there was the time when Elvis Presley kept crashing a system. Recalls one IT worker:
“‘I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but Elvis keeps crashing my computer,’ this user tells help desk. And she’s right — when she takes a CD-ROM out of the drive, Elvis starts singing. It was finally figured out: Apparently, she put an Elvis CD in the drive on top of another CD, and it got stuck on the plunger of the CD-ROM drive. When she took out a CD, Auto-run would start the audio CD (stuck on the plunger), and Elvis started singing!”
The Internet is Like the Almighty: Invisible and Omnipotent
Some people had problems with the whole concept of “The Internet” in its early days. If you’ve been in IT long enough, you probably have fielded a call similar to this one:
“Customer: ‘Can you copy the Internet for me on this diskette?’ I work for a local ISP. Frequently we receive phone calls that start something like this: Customer: ‘Hi. Is this the Internet?'”
Of course, the only answer to that question is, “Yes it is. In fact, I was just looking at my list of every site you’ve ever been on.”
What about you? Have any memorable IT stories from your own wayback machine? Feel free to share them in the comments section.
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