Lucky he was sort of dropping by, huh?

Flashback to the late 1970s, when this regional insurance company's data center is all about its mainframe, according to a pilot fish on the scene.

"My team was developing an agency software package to be run on a minicomputer," fish says. "But due to lack of space, our desks were in the computer room.

"For about a week, IBM techs had been coming out and working on one of the big tape drives -- the ones with the vacuum columns on both sides. Apparently, the system was getting errors when running the night batch jobs. They ran diagnostic after diagnostic, but couldn't find any reason for the errors.

"Now, it just so happened that one of the senior IBM hardware guys was kind of dating one of the mainframe programmers. He stopped by to get her for lunch one day while the techs were there. He asked what they were doing and they explained.

"He pondered for a little while, walked around to the front of the drive and removed the cover for the read/write/erase heads. He peered at it, then called one of them over and pointed to their problem.

"Somehow a wire had come loose or moved enough so that when someone would walk by the tape drive with a heavy enough stride, the drive would jiggle a little due to the give in the raised floor tiles, and the wire would touch the terminal on the write head and put a blip onto the tape, destroying that byte of data.

"Ten minutes to fix the wire and no more problems."

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