They just don't make 'em like they used to

Flashback to Sri Lanka in 1980, when this pilot fish is working for Radio Shack and selling the company's first computers to the locals.

"The local customers were so clueless about computers that we had to sell the computers, teach the customers how to use them, install all software and do on-site support, which the U.S. operation wouldn't have dreamed of doing," says fish.

One government agency buys a TRS-80 Model II -- that's the serious business machine, with 8-inch floppy drives. It's for the Fisheries Department, and they're using it for statistical analysis, and once it's set up everything seems to be fine.

But one day the agency calls to complain that the computer has stopped working.

Fish: How long has it been not working?

Fisheries: "Uh, about a month."

Fish: A month? Why didn't you call us earlier?

Fisheries: "Well, it worked last month. We only use it once a month."

Fish and his cohorts collect the computer, bring it into the lab and open the case.

What do they find inside? A layer of salt.

Back to the phone...

Fish: Where exactly are you using this computer?

Fisheries: "We have a beach hut where we keep it to stop curious employees from fiddling with it in our office. Of course the hut gets splashed by the waves, but the computer worked fine. Until now."

Sighs fish, "So we washed the computer, motherboard and all, in soapy water, rinsed it with alcohol and replaced all the CMOS, and it worked fine.

"And then we told the customer to please put it back in the nice air-conditioned office where we had originally installed it."

Sharky doesn't care about exotic locales -- I want to hear any true tale of IT life that you've got. Send it to me at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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