IT: It's not just a job, it's a rollover accident

Flashback to the mid-1980s, when this pilot fish starts working for a small computer reseller -- and he's issued one questionable piece of equipment

"It was a Genicom dot-matrix printer with a deep gash in the metal casing," says fish. "Printers were expensive in those days, and it worked just fine, so I didn't care that it was slightly disfigured.

"But eventually I found out how it had come by its scar."

It seems that a year or two earlier, Barney -- one of the company's two partners and also the only salesman -- was driving his van to the other side of the state to do a sales demo. But Barney was overworked and very tired -- tired enough to nod off at the wheel.

When he did, the van swerved and then began rolling sideways down the freeway.

Luckily, it didn't hit any other vehicles, and Barney was saved from serious injury by his seat belt. But the back doors of the van popped open, and computer equipment was scattered across the roadway.

"The equipment was collected up and eventually returned to the office," fish says. "The two most expensive items in the wreck, other than the van itself, were a QDP-300 computer and the Genicom printer."

Both pieces of equipment had taken a beating, and they looked like a dead loss. But Fred, the other partner, decided to see if there were any salvageable parts left inside.

He opened them up. Both cases were full of pebbles, dirt and grass. Once that was blown out with compressed air, and all the loose circuit boards were reseated, Fred tried turning them on.

They both worked.

"The QDP-300 had become Bill's development computer, and I got the printer," says fish. "Both continued to work just fine for many more years. When we finally retired them, it was because they had become hopelessly obsolete, not because of any equipment failure.

"They just don't build them like that anymore..."

...But Sharky knows they're making new true tales of IT life every day. Send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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