Surprise! How do you like your new computer?

It's 30 years ago, and this senior programmer/analyst is busy cranking out the technical spec for a complete rewrite of the company's turnkey business system, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"This was a mature system, with tons of features, bells and whistles," says fish. "So a new replacement system required hundreds of pages of technical documentation.

"He had an IBM PC with a 10MB hard disk and a floppy drive, and he was regularly complaining about the limitations of his computer, so his manager ordered him a new one."

The new computer arrives, but the programmer/analyst is gone for the weekend on a fish trip, so his manager assigns another programmer to set up the new PC on the programmer/analyst's desk, and dismantle the old machine to give to a secretary.

The secretary is pretty tech-savvy, so the first thing she does is to reformat the hard disk on her new-ish computer. Then she loads it up with Word, Excel and the other productivity apps she uses.

Programmer/analyst returns to the office properly de-stressed from an enjoyable weekend of fishing, camping, playing softball and drinking beer.

Then he sees the shiny new PC on his desk, humming away.

His first reaction: Where's my old computer?

He runs over to the secretary's desk, and quickly discovers that his 300 pages of technical documentation have been wiped away.

And he knows what his boss, the secretary and the other programmer don't: His last backup on floppy disks is a month old.

"All he had left was 150 pages he'd printed out the weekend before." fish says. "The poor guy spent the next two weeks retyping his spec from the hard copy, and another two months rewriting the remainder from memory.

"On the plus side, the turnkey system rewrite project was shelved -- after a concerted 12-month development effort involving eight programmers -- because the company got bought up by a competitor."

Write your true tale of IT life from memory for Sharky and send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. It's worth a stylish Shark shirt to you if I use your story. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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