Story: Fan or Die

David Goh contributed this beauty:

Back in 1994 or so at my first job, we were building some train control system software. We had a series of mainframes that we were using to test the software on, which all lived in a small room with no extra airconditioning. The only point of transmission between the mainframes and the development PC network was a single ancient 286 with its case off.
After compiling your software, you submitted it into a network directory, where the 286 would find it and start copying it to the mainframes. During summer, or indeed on any slightly warm day, you then ran from your desk, down the corridor, into the overheated “machine room”, picked up the handy piece of cardboard, and waved it vigorously at the CPU until your transmission was complete. Failure to arrive at the 286 and start fanning within seconds of submitting the copy job meant your transmission would fail as the poor 286 would overheat and die.
Oddly enough, younger and healthier developers tended to have more success at getting their builds sent to the mainframes and tested. 🙂


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