We all truly learn about backups only after a personal disaster. Until then, the need for a backup is only an intellectual exercise that doesn’t seem worth the effort. I earned my wings at the tender and arrogant age of 22 while working for the Navy in Virginia. After some suitable training classes, I had impressed my superiors enough to assign me to the Systems Group.
There were operators for all our mainframe computers, and the only way for an operator to interact with a computer was using the Console, a teletype-like machine. All jobs were submitted in card decks, and the operator was the only one who could save a programmer from disaster by overriding jobs that generated warnings or errors on the Console.
One day, shortly after collecting my desk, garbage can, stapler etc. and joining the systems group, I wanted to delete a file called WHODUNIT on a test system drive called TEST01, and smartly submitted a card deck for TEST01 with the command to:
Now, this was the command to delete the entire disk drive, so a warning came up on the operator’s console, and he duly called me to make sure I really wanted to do that. “Of course”, I cried, “and don’t call me again about stuff like this”. I was a big shot in the systems group now, and knew what I was doing. So he let it go….
What I really should have submitted was:
After returning innocently from lunch, I was met by a group of angry programmers and there was no tape backup of their test programs. So I spent the next two days humbly rounding up card decks from angry programmers, and learning my lesson well. Actually, there were three lessons here:
- Never be arrogant
- Always be nice to operators
- Always have a backup
Check in next time, for more stories and ultimate truth in the C’mon Back Chronicles.