Hitting the big red switch

Emergency Pull Switch from an IBM Series/1 Hitting the Big Red Button should be nobodies idea of testing whether something works.

But I’ve worked with computer operators who think that is a way of powering down a mainframe/DASD/mini-computer.

The excuses I’ve heard have included:

  • it was taking too long to shutdown.
  • I thought that’s how we did it(!?!)
  • I wanted to see what would happen.

The last excuse was made when “Gibbo” powered off the whole IBM 3090 mainframe complex, by pushing the big red switch.  Shortly afterwards, all the big red switches had perspex covers fitted.

For a while there, I toyed with creating the “Gibbo” award, as an IT equivalent to the Darwin Awards.  The picture is of an IBM Series/1 emergency pull switch.

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