I missed all this...
Not entering the world of work until 97, and then IT sales in 2000 for Sema, I missed all of these contraptions (not that you'd want salesmen anywhere near any of it anyway). Would periodically trip over water-cooling pipes for the ICL mainframes, but by 2000 much of the stuff you chaps described had been consigned to the skip.
Nonetheless, my cautionary tale. Before turning to the dark side I trained as an aircraft tech. As was the way in our college, a small group of us had an evening project to tinker with; in our case an old water cooled inline four pot engine off something or other. We'd loving it stripped it, blueprinted it, and put it back together.
One Thursday evening came the big moment - the first run up. We'd modified a cradle for it, plumbed in the cooling, etc. Before firing it up, we nipped out to get MacDonalds. The moment arrived, and half a dozen spotty youths stand around a pristine engine in the middle of a maintenance hangar, munching down a variety of MSG-based 'food'.
Fire it up, and there's immediately a problem - the wiring loom smoulders, then melts, then ignites. Someone has mucked up the ignition wiring. Some has mucked up a bit more as the short seems to have caused a permanent live ignition and we can't kill the engine. Finally, someone has mucked up completely and moved the bloody fire extinguisher.
Necessity is the mother of the invention; inspired move by one of my peers reveals that a well chucked MacDonalds extra large strawberry milkshake is an excellent fire extinguisher, and also suitable for choking an engine into stalling out too.
However, it should also be noted that upon striking a cooling fan spinning at approx. 900rpm, the same milkshake also exhibits simply unmatched 'fling' characteristics, coupled with remarkable 'stick' qualities.
It was amazing how much aircraft hangar internals you can coat with just 750ml of gloopy sugary milk and a 900rpm fan.