Happy Century #IBM100 !

Yesterday my ex-employer IBM Corp. turned 100; an appropriate, all-digital day (10-10-11) to celebrate the first century of existence, an honor not very many tech firms can match.

Two humorous memories of my IBM stint:

  • after having done all my training on “blinkenlights” S/370 155 I was sent out to my first client ever as a young Systems Engineer; the client has a 4330 midsize mainframe; where S/370 were a triumph of lights and switches, the 4330 was as plain-looking as any cupboard. Trying to look as experienced as my colleagues I loiter at lunchtime in the Data Center drinking coffee and chatting with the client’ IT personnel. At some point I adroitly remark: “…but the CPU, you keep in the other room?” to which my counterpart, perhaps fearing some Jedi trick on my part guardingly replies: “…well, actually you are SITTING on it !”
  • a couple of months later, a more senior colleague asks me to mount a tape. So far I only had dealt with so called scratch tapes (recycled from God knows where) but this is a proper IBM branded reel, fresh from the software distribution center, and the unit is a state-of-the-art 3420 unit. My problem is that I do not know how to peel off the plastic tape cover, but I am ashamed to ask, so I take the reel and head for the tape drive behind the towering disk drives and front ends. After perhaps 15 minutes of frantic struggle with the help of my swiss army knife I get rid of the damn thing and proceed to mount the tape, only to find that the 3420 unit would have opened the plastic cover itself. A very enlightening conversation ensued expalining what had happened to the torn cover!

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