Day 9 - Getting Even With Zed - Part 2

So having combined my Hack, and Tom's Hack, into one nicely integrated prank, who do you think was the victim?

Poor Zed, the newest Student Assistant.

Bob, Tom, and I waited for the evening when Zed was scheduled as Student Assistant in Charge. We loaded our combined prank into the system, and into the Boot Sequence Card Deck Holder. We then, each separately, bid Zed a good night, and a good luck for your first evening Being In Charge Of The Computer (Ha Ha).

None of us actually went back to our rooms, or even left the building.

We simply got together around the corner, in the area where sat the Teletype upon which Zed had previously done his dirty deed. And from that very teletype (poetic justice indeed) we launched our revenge.

  • I executed my code to generate a MLTP EAC event.
  • The System Console typed out the cryptic (hacked) MLTP EAC message
    **** ***

  • Zed sprang into action, and loaded the (hacked) Boot Sequence card deck.
  • The hacked Primary Boot Sequence card executed lacing of the following Secondary Boot Sequence deck, the Backup Boot Sequence deck, and any additional Boot Sequence Decks that Zed could contrive to find.
  • Bob, Tom, and I reappeared in the Computer Room, and had a good laugh at poor Zed, unable to bring the computer back to life.
  • Ha Ha.

The joke was on us too.

A Punch Card, as you can see in the Wikipedia article, is a small and thin piece of cardboard. Examine the illustration at the top - the yellowish brown rectangle labeled "FORTRAN STATEMENT". See the 80 columns, and 12 rows? Try to imagine those 80 x 12 (760 holes) all punched. Removal of all 720 bits of cardboard would, typically, weaken the card significantly.

Now the IBM 1800 card reader / punch unit did not handle cards delicately. Almost daily, it would mangle one or more cards placed into its care, with very few cards having anywhere near 720 punches in them. So, it stands to reason, any card punched with all 720 punches (laced) would be subject to destruction.

So, Bob, Tom, and I returned to the Computer Center, and we discovered Zed with the card punch open on all sides, and him deep into its innards, trying to unjam the punch. With all of the bits of punch cards, torn to shreds by the punch feed mechanism, having jammed themselves into the nethers of the punch device, it required considerable effort by all of us to clear the Card Reader / Punch out so it would feed cards again, and allow us to Boot.

At least we had done our prank late at night, way after any Dean or College President would be making a tour of the premises. So our latest prank never became known by anybody. And we all had a laugh at Zed, though the laugh was upon all of us.

These are merely my reminisences, to date. There will be more here. And I have no doubt that Bob, Keith, and Tom could add their own. Maybe Art and Zed, too.

And we were model students (ha ha ha). Is there, then, any wonder how dangerous the computing world has become in the succeeding 30 years or so?


1 comment:

Angelina Lenahan said...

I am out of control hysterical laughing. You have to write a screen play for a sitcom. A satire on Scorpion. Or a film. OMG Chuck you are hilarious. Copyright your creative genius.