Requiem for 9577-DNG 23THNLT

Ed. This page was originally HERE.

I once was a document clerk, a temporary worker at a nuclear power station. As a temp, I was something of a second-class employee. Which was fine. They paid well.

As a second-class employee, my assigned workstation was an "ancient" IBM 9577 486DX2 PS/2, loaded with Win95. It's primary purpose in life was to access a mainframe system with a terminal emulator, and the MS-Office suite applications... which were served, ever-so-slowly, by our overtaxed WinNT-based LAN.

Now I already used an older, slower PS/2 at home, an 8570. And beneath the Win95, beneath the MS-Office, loaded onto that poor 77 at work, I could see the competent machine beneath. The POST RAM count completed much more quickly than on that 8570 at home... and this 77 had a whopping 32MB compared to my 70's 14MB. It made me envious of the latent capabilities hidden beneath all the Microsoft network crap.

Over several months, I proved myself an able temp with that machine. Late at night, second shift, crankin' out MS-Word docs, filling in the details of Maintenance Work Requests on the Mainframe, verifying documents. Clicky M keyboard all the way... it was the best keyboard in an office filled with Dell Pentium Optiplexes.

And then, the IT support person came.

My machine had a "non-standard" drive configuration. Since the machine had come from the power company's headquarters to fill a need for workstations at the power plant, it had somehow managed to escape getting the standardized drive image the power plant LAN clients all shared. The IT support person was going to remedy this.

She said she could hook me up with a nicer machine, you know, since IBM never did anything right. I said no thank you, I rather liked the one I had. I had the only 77 in the plant. She told me I wouldn't be able to use the machine while she blew down the generic drive image from the network. I said okay, and left 23THNLT in her hands.

She tinkered, she made interesting-sounding grunts. I heard the '77 beep twice... a couple of times. I logged on to the network on a coworker's faster Dell Optiplex with a mushy keyboard and the video resolution all tiny at 1024x768. Funny, though a Pentium 90, it didn't seem any faster than that '77.

She said, there's a problem with the image download, and left.

23THNLT sat there, with a very ominous I999xxx error on the monitor. Hmm, this can't be good.

She returned, with diskettes. I kept on working, as underemployed temp workers are inclined to do to keep food on their table. She said she didn't know what was wrong, exactly. I told her, If I could, could I please bring in some software for her from IBM that might cure the problem. She declined. The IT department would handle it. They had the knowledge, they had the training, they had the MSCE credentials to prove it.

I went home, looked up the error code, and found out that she had blown away the IML partition on the hard disk; that the machine would not boot because it's BIOS had been blown away by an MSCE-inspired assumption about hardware.

The next day, she informed me that the machine would be going 'to the nerds', and I would just have to use a coworker's machine. 23THNLT's monitor was removed and it had a note TO THE NERDS taped to its case. I wrote down its serial number, so I wouldn't forget. Sometime the next day during first shift, it was taken away.

I had one more contact with the same IT support person months later, who was sent to me when I had an Excel peculiarity to report whereby the defined action of the enter key would change. She explained that the problem was that mysterious control characters were spontaneously inserting themselves into my spreadsheets when I saved them.

For my part, I was able to aquire one of 23THNLT's brothers, 9577-DNA 23NPTFZ. 23NPTFZ will never have MS-anything on any storage device. 23NPTFZ is remarkably fast with OS/2. And you know, 23NPTFZ is proof that not only does IBM do some things right, sometimes they do things pretty close to perfect.

And at the auctions, at the swap meets, at the dumpsters... I do look for the tag 9577-DNG 23THNLT.

Content created and/or collected by:
Louis Ohland, Peter Wendt, William Walsh, David Beem, Tatsuo Sunagawa, Jim Shorney, Tim Clarke, Kevin Bowling, Tomáš Slavotínek, and many others.

Ardent Tool of Capitalism - MAD Edition! is maintained by Tomáš Slavotínek.
Last update: 13 Sep 2021 - Changes & Credits | Legal Info & Contact