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Oh what a cute little animation... OH MY GOD. (Not acceptable, even in the '80s)
Confessions of a student
Who, Me? Bid a fond farewell to the weekend and buckle up for the new week with a slightly NSFW example of the breed we like to call Who, Me?
Today's tale comes from "Trent" (which is most certainly not his name) and takes us back in time to his university days.
Entering higher education in the period between the late 1980s and early 1990s, Trent was a product of the home computer fad of the era, "having been brought up on the Peeks And Pokes of the C64 and built-like-a-brick-s**thouse Research Machines 480Z in school."
We're pretty sure Trent is referring to the Research Machines LINK 480Z, a 8-bit micro that could be networked to a Research Machines 380Z, which would perform file server duties. The Z80-based machines were sold mainly into education and dropped into BASIC, or a variant of CP/M, when powered up. Research Machines followed up the 480Z with the Intel 80186-based Nimbus PC-186 before going full-PC compatible until RM gave up on the hardware game in 2014.
For Trent, however, fresh from the 480Z experience, university life brought with it the impossibly glamorous world of the IBM PS/2s lurking in the computer lab. "With Harvard Graphics and a new-fangled CD-ROM drive!"
"A mate who worked for the local county council back home," he told us, "had given me a floppy with a file named 'Head 42' and told me to have a look when there weren't many people around."
Trent realised he'd misunderstood the filename when he popped the disk into a drive of a PC in an empty lab. He was presented with some terribly pixelated smut, an animation of three people doing something vaguely recognisable as NSFW.
"Looking back," he said, "I guess it was fairly high-tech computer pr0n for the era."
The nameless educational establishment had recently rolled out an update to the PCs, which saw them autorun a simple menu to allow students to select applications (word processing and so on) with the press of a key rather than having to remember a sequence of commands.
"However," said Trent, "it was simple to break out and get back into DOS."
Later, over the ludicrously cheap student beer of the time, Trent and a chum pondered if it was possible to fiddle with this simple boot menu and make anything run on startup.
"Back in the empty lab that evening (might have been straight from the students union bar after an extended lunch...) we found that not only would it boot any old file, but it would also work over the basic network."
Curious to see if they could, the duo pointed all the PCs in the lab ("might have been 40 to 50 machines") at Trent's blocky X-rated flick. To their delight, it seemed to work.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," he told us with what sounds a like a tiny bit of remorse.
They were back in the bar for last orders.
It is unknown how many innocents found themselves trying to work out what the pixel animation was showing, but by the time Trent rocked up at the computer lab the next day he found it closed "for maintenance" (as it remained for a few days).
A rumour circulated among the students, frustrated that they could not complete assignments, that smut had been found.
The duo swore never to confess their sin, until today, and "amazingly were never found out."
"I still have the original 3.5-inch floppy somewhere."
Trent is now in his 50s and "quite ashamed of what we did."
Indeed he should be. Youth and beer do not excuse the pushing of pixelly pr0n onto the unsuspecting.
Ever done something in your youth that leaves you still gnawing a knuckle or two decades on? Would you forgive Trent or condemn him for his unacceptable behaviour? Pop your judgement in the comments and email your own confession to Who, Me? ®