Crash, bang, wallop: What a power-down. But what hit the kill switch? | 2/15/2019 | Staff
KimmyPoo (Posted by) Level 3
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On Call Well done, Reg readers, you’ve once again triumphed in the battle with the 9-5 and made it to Friday.

Celebrate with a dose of On Call, our weekly instalment of tech conundrums and calamities caused by other people.

Week - Clark - Kind - Fault - Kind

This week, we meet “Clark”, who wrote in to tell us about a very particular kind of fault, which is probably one of a kind.

At the time of the incident, Clark was working for a government contractor in New Mexico.

Computer - Room - DEC - PDP-11 - VAX-11

“Our computer room was host to DEC PDP-11 and VAX-11 computers, and had all the standard raised floors, power conditioning and lots of air conditioning,” Clark said.

“The line printer was also located in that room, and the operator frequently had to replenish the wide fan-fold paper which came in a heavy box.”

Day - Clark - Software - Project - Room

But one day, while Clark was working on a software project in an adjacent room, he heard a heavy clunk.

The clunk, it turned out, was the power centre emergency shutdown relays, and quickly all the terminals in Clark’s room went dead.

Group - Computer - Room

The group rushed into the computer room, only to be...
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