Home From The Field The ‘smack technique,’ it works for computers too…

The ‘smack technique,’ it works for computers too…

The ‘smack technique,’ it works for computers too…

Back in the 90’s I was working for a large manufacturing corporation. In these days, we were still transitioning over to ethernet from token-ring, and as such, we had a token-ring gateway sitting on the shelf of our room. This actually was a PC running software on an IBM Model 30…this was in the days of Pentium 90’s, so even back then, a Model 30 was dated technology.

One day early in my tenure there, my manager wanted to show me how robust the token-ring gateway was…so, as a demonstration, he flipped the power to the gateway off, waited a few moments, then flipped it back on again. To his surprise, the entire network segment did not come back up as expected.

He sat at his desk performing all sorts of network diagnostics, and just couldn’t determine what was going on.  I mentioned to him, “You know, this thing doesn’t sound the same as before when you shut it off…it’s a lot…quieter.”

Turns out I was right: this computer had been powered on for years (which in itself, is a testament to the robustness of the IBM gateway software and hardware)…as such, the drive motor had worn so much that the brushes didn’t provide enough (forgive me for my lack of electronics knowledge) “torque” to get the drive spinning.

My manager walked up to the PC, gave it a hard SMACK against the side of the case, and the drive spun up, ever-so-slowly, but eventually made it up to speed. He flipped the power off and back on quickly enough so the drive didn’t spin down totally and the network segment was back up and running within a minute.

Needless to say, that thing was replaced the following weekend.

Picture Source: [Random McRandomhead (CC)]


  1. In the late ’80’s, early 90’s, I worked for a company that had a lot of IBM Thinkpad laptops. When they failed, the first thing the IBM tech’s would do when they came to do on site support was remove the hard drive, hold it 1 foot over the desk, and drop it. They would put it back in, and 80% of the time, the laptops would boot right up. They would then back up all the data and replace the drive, but it was an awesome site to see.


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