Remember, every demo's REAL audience is Murphy

Ticketmaster and Fandango are far in the future when this pilot fish's boss asks him to develop a basic ticket-purchase system -- one that uses timesharing, minicomputers and 300-bits-per-second modems.

"A group of investors owned a large venue for performances," says fish. "I slaved away at 300 bps for days and weeks on a demo to show them how we could display the seating, which seats had been purchased, selecting and buying tickets, and so on. It was a beautiful thing.

"The day of the demo came. The salesman walked in with the three decked-out suits, all large as linemen, and after his lofty introduction we gathered tightly around me and my green-screen terminal.

"The telephone number to connect with the minicomputer was dialed, and...nothing. No answer, no familiar modem tone, none of those modem negotiation sounds we'd learned to love.

"Not 15 minutes earlier everything was fine. But now, even after several attempts, nothing. All sorts of embarrassing excuses were made, but the suits left, never to be heard from again.

"I frantically made contact with our folks half a continent away where the minicomputer was located, to try and learn what was wrong.

"The cause was identified fairly quickly: At just about the moment the demo was to begin, an automobile jumped a curb 1,656 miles away and crashed into a telephone substation. Are you kidding me?!?"

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