On Call Sometimes you’re the one on the phone, and other times you’re the one that issued the cry for help. Welcome to a story from the On Call archive where a Register reader turns the tables and claims the glory.
Today’s tale comes from “Rob” and is set in the 1980s, at a City insurance company. As was common in those days, the IBM System/3 midrange computer lurked within the data centre, and this particular outfit ran its underwriting software on the system.
The System/3 that Rob was responsible for luxuriated in a spacious 64KB of RAM and featured nearly 2.5MB of mass storage via an internal disk (likely the IBM 5444, which measured 14 inches in size). Backups were as important then as they are today, and Rob’s IBM was no exception. “We backed up the internal disks onto 9-track tape cartridges via an external unit,” he told us, “inside which there was a plastic rack into which a number of cartridges could be loaded.”