Unplug, plug back in. How exciting could THAT be?

Flashback to the early 1980s, when this New Zealand site has many, many terminals connected to the central computer -- and they're not on a network, says a pilot fish working there.

"We had a Wang VS300 superminicomputer running the data processing -- and yes, the word processing too -- with approximately 100 terminals running over dual coax cables," fish says. "Lots of long dual coax cables.

"Normally this was not an issue, as there was generally enough slack on the user end to allow minor readjustment of working spaces.

"However, one day a user decided to move his terminal a little further than usual, which involved unplugging the power and plugging into a new outlet.

"The building we were in was built in the 1960s and had very stylish (for the time) brushed metal cover plates on the power outlets. Imagine the effect when the user, reaching over the back of his desk, managed to get the earth prong into the phase slot -- and the other two prongs touching the metal plate.

"Being New Zealand, 230 volts traveled instantly down the dual coax and into the device controller, with a resulting bang and the loss of four device controllers -- 25 percent of the terminals.

"Very soon after, all terminal power plugs were painted a bright red, and instructions were published that anyone other than operations staff touching a red plug would be subject to severe disciplinary action."

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