Reply to post: Green screens going snap, crackle, pop!

Haunted disk-drive? This story will give you the chills...


Green screens going snap, crackle, pop!

Reminds me of when I was managing the setup of a small college computing center in central Virginia. This was in the mid-80's, and the IT director had gone the "safe" route with an IBM 4341 "mainframe" running VM/SP to host a DOS/VSE CICS/ICCF Virtual Machine for admin "apps", and a MUSIC/SP VM (if anyone knows what that is, you get a Big Iron Trivia - "BIT" prize) for academic use.

I was officially the systems programmer, but did a lot of ancillary support, including various hardware support including setting up the student lab with Telex (or maybe Memorex?) green screen IBM 3278 CRT clones in a room built into a corner of the old gym. This "phase" was done in the middle of a typical steamy Virginian summer. The lab was set up pretty much like a standard classroom with the CRT's on individual computer workstation desks of the era in neat rows/columns.

We had also installed some high capacity window-mounted air conditioners (no central air in old small state college secondary gyms then), but in his typical ham-handed fashion, the IT director, doing a bit of token hands-on "leadership" decided the AC would be set to maximum coldness to offset the outside steaminess. Although I could not quite articulate a concrete objection, aside from the ergonomic issue of fingers getting too cold to type on the 3270-style keyboards, my mental alarms were clanging ....

After an hour or 2 of the big chill settling in, we saw the real issue when the room's door was opened long enough for the outside humidity to surge into the room: The condensation on the non-heated, plastic parts of the CRT's dripped into the electronics, and shorted out several of the units closest to the door - they were "sweating" like a cold glass of water. I immediately powered off all the units, and unplugged them, then set the AC to minimal coolness in hopes that would be a more reasonable balance of comfort for humans, and equipment. I believe I needed the Telex tech who came out with replacements to explain very clearly to the director why this happened to back me up in keeping it that way before turning the CRT's back on.

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