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IT workers: Speaking truth to douchebags since 1977

When boot messages go bad

Who, Me? Welcome to The Register's weekly leap into the guilty, and not-so-guilty confessions of readers in our Who, Me? column.

Today's tale takes us back more than 40 years, to 1977, a year that saw the death of Elvis Presley and the birth of the Atari 2600 Video Game Console, replete with delightful wood veneer. 1977 was also when today's confessor, a chap the Reg anonymiser has decided to label "Jeff", was working for a startup in Van Nuys, California.

Back in those days, personal computers were pricey things. Many stored data on cassette tapes and monitors were prohibitively expensive. Jeff's task was working on power supplies and performing stress testing.

"I had my own system that I used for testing", Jeff told us. "It was an Intel 8080 system using a Kansas City Standard cassette player as the data storage."

Poster for the movie Cable Guy. Copyright: Columbia Pictures Corporation,

Behold the perils of trying to turn the family and friends support line into a sideline


As the post boot message that appeared on the screen was not to his liking ("some odd BS approved by marketing," he explained) Jeff replaced it, demonstrating an awareness that has doubtless seen him through many a US administration since.

The message read: "What this country needs is a decent loaf of bread and a leak proof douchebag."

Unfortunately for Jeff, "a potential investor showed up for a tour."

Thanks to the law of Murphy, "he was taken over to an empty bench set up with a working system. Yes, my bench.

"They fired it up and the investor saw my sign-on message."

Alas, the investor did not share Jeff's feelings regarding what the country did or did not need: "No one was amused, I was told."

We imagine the telling was done somewhat sternly.

"I still chuckle about it."

Ever aired your true feelings somewhere a little more public than planned? Maybe vented your spleen without checking who was behind you? Confess all in an email to Who, Me? ®

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