There just two simple letters, “Y” and “N.”
For those that remember running DOS and executing programs from a command prompt (winword, anyone?), may remember answering questions by a simple “Y” or “N,” the obvious selection of yes or no.
This Tech Wreck Tuesday has a little throwback feel, as I share an experience that involves an old 286 with a monochrome monitor.
Are You Sure You Want To Proceed? [Y/N]
“Are you sure you want to proceed?,” it asked. I was pretty sure, but let me back-up first.
I was the Program Production Manager at the radio station I worked for while I attended college. One of my responsibilities was scheduling the ad spots, etc… The DOS program we used was pretty cutting edge for the time, as all of our audio was computer automated. Since the FCC required a written log of everything that occurred on air, the computer program we used would print-out what had been scheduled. I can still hear that dot-matrix printer going and going and going and going…
The computer I used to program the next day’s commercials and programming would save it to a floppy and I would then load them up to the broadcasting machines. For some strange reason, I thought I would try to install a mouse on the computer I used for programming. Thankfully I had left the broadcast machines alone!
The computer I used for programming was an old machine, a 286 with an orange monochrome monitor. It only had the one program loaded on it and nothing else. I had found the mouse in the drawer of my desk from the previous occupant and assumed it would work. I attached the serial cable and proceeded to insert the floppy install disk.
I don’t remember how I came about typing it in, perhaps I’ve blocked it from my memory due to the trauma.
I did that.
“Do you want to format C? [Y/N]”
I pressed “Y.”
But wait, it gets better.
It turns out that the computer knew better than I did. It questioned me, again:
“Are you sure you want to format C? [Y/N]”
To this day, I remember getting frustrated at such a silly question, after all, I had just told it what I wanted to do.
I. Pressed. “Y.”
It only took a few seconds and I knew something was wrong.
I watched as file by file, line by line, each and every file on the hard drive was erased.
After it had finished, I tried restarting.
That, of course, was futile.
There was no operating system, there were no files, it was just an empty 286 with an orange monochrome monitor.
Thankfully, the station owner was one of the most graceful people I’ve ever known. I managed some quick fixes for the next few days of radio programming, successfully installed the program on a new computer–75MHz Pentium with 16mb of RAM–and re-programmed everything from scratch.
That was my first big tech wreck after working at the radio station for just over two years. Thankfully the radio station owner gave me a second chance, since I continued working in radio for the next 15+ years.
What are some of your “tech wreck” stories?