Article

True IT blooper #32: Compaq Portable code red

Matthew A. DeBellis
Years ago Bob Walker began his computer training by buying a so-called portable computer. That was the easy part.

He purchased a Compaq Portable. You know the one.

"It weighed a million pounds, and you could almost pick it up," Walker said.

The Compaq Portable had 5.25 inch floppy, 10 GB hard drive and a green screen display. The huge disk drive was close to being full, and Walker thought it was a good time to begin erasing files. You know, make some room.

"At the time I knew nothing about which files were essential to the operation of the computer," Walker said. "So I just zapped about 200 files."

Now he had oodles of disk space. He felt good about himself, a computer novice taking care of his computer, learning the ins and outs.

"I turned it off and retired for the night," Walker said. "The next night when I turned it on -- nothing!"

Well, not exactly nothing. The Compaq Portable screen was flashing a line in the upper left corner of the screen. Not good.

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"By now all of you have probably correctly guessed I had erased command.com," Walker said.

Panic set in. He got on the horn and told several supposedly computer literate friends of the flashing-line problem. Initially, his friends weren't much help. But two hours later, a friend understood the situation.

"He knew what I had done," Walker said. "He talked me through the restore process, and I was up and running."

At least for a while. After all, it was a Compaq Portable.

"I assured my place in blooper heaven," Walker said, who clearly has come to terms with his mistake.

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