Hi Fred, I’m a but behind on reading the newsletters but I eventually get there. Just read the one on "Dirty PC’s" ( http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=60403472 ) and just have to share my experience with you.
Ferranti used to make a range of computers and in particular they had a Ferranti 8086 PC that had a dual motherboard design joined at the waist (so to speak) by a cable. Almost as if they didn’t have enough room on the one board to put all the ICs. Regular callouts to these machines were every 3 to 6 months and all you had to do was reseat the ICs on the lower board which was ‘upside down’. Worst case scenario you would need to actually put the IC back in and not just reseat it.
Anyway – living in South Wales as I do, the land of coal, sheep and fabulous choirs, it wasn’t a surprise that one of my customers was a local coal merchant. Without fail I would get a call to this customer every 6 months over a 5 year period and each time the process was exactly the same.
Drive to customer – a 2.5hr trip and ensure I had on my oldest clothes. On arrival I would be made a cup of tea and then I’d proceed to strip this machine to pieces and as I’m sure you recall, the older systems had lots of pieces <g>. Several hours later it always amazed me that after cleaning off, what must have been between a sixteenth and an eighth of an inch of coal dust from *EVERYTHING*, that the machine would start back up without a hitch – apart from having to reset the CMOS because the battery had failed. For amount of dust it wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but for the sheer invasiveness of the coal dust and the way it clung to every pore of me afterwards I never have come across a worse case and certainly not one where it