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Computer Crash

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 01, 2005

I have been told by a respected colleague that he read in a respected trade journal that today, April 1, 2005 is the 50th anniversary of the coining of the term "computer crash". It seems that back in the mid-fifties when computers were still very new and very large there was one assembled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the second floor of an old storage barn used by the maintenance department on campus. The computer department was relegated to such facilities because the science was still new and had not been granted much of a budget by the school administration. After running for a few weeks, and gaining some respect for the department by crunching large numbers very quickly, some people started to notice that the floor was sagging under the weight of the machine, but before they could bring in joists to shore up the building, the beams had given way and the whole thing just "crashed" through to the ground floor. Luckily nobody was injured, but they had witnessed what was the very first computer crash. The companion phrase "the system is down" was coined on that day as well.