From The Storyteller
March 12, 2018, Murphy's Law
I have personal knowledge that not all “bugs” in a computer system are in found in the computer itself. In 1967 the Air Force determined, that for the sake of the greater good, I needed to be stationed in a concrete vault in the middle of Kansas – running computers.
Computer operations do not work on people time. Computer time is 24/7 - day shift, night shift, and an occasional midnight shift. For three years I gave my nights to Uncle Sam. The night shift crew did the bulk of the processing, which meant finishing any work the day crew left and all of our regular “stuff”.
Our base was selected to take the Air Force from punch cards to big computers with tape drives. We were working with cutting edge technology, and the night crew’s job included finding and fixing “bugs”. It was during this time of transition I discovered the truth in Murphy’s Law – “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst possible time”.
Our regular night shift “stuff” included printing the paychecks for all 5000 base personal – civilian and military. To be safe, it was one of the last systems switched over and after several trial runs the punch cards were gone. All payroll information was then kept on large computer tapes. As you might guess, keeping track of the computer tapes was really important. Each day there would be a printed inventory and, after a careful review, a line would be drawn through the tapes to be erase. Note: the words “civilian” and “commissary”, both start with “C”. Yes, 5000 payroll records gone.
Murphy! No pressure, just possible personal financial disaster for 5000 people. We found a way and payroll went on schedule.
Moral: Murphy’s Law and creative thinking go hand in hand.