Honor, redefined

Flashback to 1981, when this pilot fish and everyone else in his university computer science program is learning Cobol, and they submit their decks of punched cards on the honor system.

"We were very careful with the computer time in those days," says fish. "Every time the compiler was executed, one point was subtracted from the score for that exercise."

"One day a friend commented that a guy named Fred always got his printouts back before anyone else, raising the suspicion that there was cheating going on.

"Near the end of the semester, with time crunch alive and well, I took a lengthy Cobol deck to the computer room and set it on the table behind the other two that were already there -- that was where the honor system came in.

"I returned to the data entry room, passing Fred on the way to the computer room with a large deck of punched cards in his hand.

"When he returned, I excused myself to go to the restroom. Instead, I headed straight to the computer room. Guess whose deck was now at the front of the line?

"A quick shuffle to the deck ensured Fred's Cobol program would never compile cleanly. He never knew what hit him -- cost him four points."

Feed Sharky's queue. Send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

Get your daily dose of out-takes from the IT Theater of the Absurd delivered directly to your Inbox. Subscribe now to the Daily Shark Newsletter.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon