Fortunately, this sort of thing could never happen today

It's the mid-1970s, and this programmer pilot fish works for an IT service provider that supports several big insurance companies.

"We ran a huge (at that time) mainframe and a nationwide network and, of course, a large computer room," says fish.

One winter night, fish is there working on a new program. There's a blizzard outside, so when the mainframe operator has finished running the nightly batch, fish tells him to go home -- figuring he knows enough to compile his code.

But not long after, while fish is waiting for a compile to finish, all the lights freeze on the teletype-style console and it stops printing.

That's a problem. It's 3 a.m. in the middle of a blizzard, the system won't work without a console, and fish knows everything has to be up and running in a few hours. He quickly puts in a service call.

The service tech arrives through the snow and goes to work, while fish has coffee and checks his program listings in the break room.

"He came back a few minutes later and started his paperwork," fish says. "I finally asked what the problem was, as this console was notorious for going down.

"He answered 'I put paper in.'

"I never again laughed at anyone who simply forgot to 'plug it in.'"

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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