How the internet saved my life in 1987!


Anybody who's ever lost a document to the computer you'll understand how I was saved. I had written a large program made of many C files that were my entire master's project.  It seemed like it took a million years to write and test especially as I had other classes at the same time.  It was on a VAX mainframe which was super cool at the time. Due to previous losses of data of my own doing, I was paranoid. Luckily!  I would copy my files periodically to another machine, an Apollo workstation. I didn't work on the Apollo workstation normally as my Apollo account was for a prior class.   However, I still had access to it so I would copy my files there because of my backup paranoia.  Unlike today it was a non-trivial task to copy my entire master's project to the Apollo.


I copied the files at the time over something called ARPANET (the predecessor to the Internet). It was done with a collection of convoluted command lines on the VAX machine to the Apollo.  I'm very lucky I did this!  One day the VAX mainframe hard drive crashed. The normal recovery process was started but failed.  Why? because the administrators assistant who did backups had been running the backup process script under a user and NON-admin account. This meant the backup program did not copy backup files from any private user accounts directories as it didn’t have access to people's files.  So effectively nothing got backed up. When we all found out about this, after throwing up, we were told people would be provided staff to re-typing your programs/docs from any printouts you might have. I was near the end of my Masters and was frozen.


However, I then remembered my periodic copying to the Apollo workstation over ARPANET (internet).  While it wasn’t totally the latest code, it was enough and saved my psyche from redoing the whole thing.


Yay for being paranoid!


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