Stories from the Computair archive

The Computair team has seen many changes and had some funny experiences over the past 40 years. Let’s hear a few of the stories…

During the 1990s, Computair sold hardware. You may remember the days before Wifi, with cables running everywhere and multiple plug sockets required. A customer called, worried because the printer had begun printing hieroglyphics, even though everything was connected and switched on properly. When one of the team dropped by to take a look, he found the reason why: the printer ribbon cable had been nailed through, fixing it neatly to the wall so that it was out of everyone’s way.

Computair was attending an industry trade fair in the mid-1990s. On the second morning, there was news of a break-in overnight. Suspiciously, the only thing to have been taken from the entire hall were the 3 computers belonging to Computair. Luckily, the computers didn’t contain any source code, but they were never retrieved. (Sadly, any hopes of the team being issued with James-Bond style gadgets to prevent such espionage happening again have come to nothing.)

Ah, the 1980s: the time before cloud storage and removable hard drives, when floppy disks, 5.25 inches across, were the popular method of data storage. A customer called to say that their word-processing program had crashed. Their system back-up was stored on floppy disk. The disk was eventually discovered, carefully hole-punched, in order to fit it securely in the office ringbinder with the other important process documents!

The award for the most enterprising moment must go to our founding members, Nigel Taffs and Ray Nottage. Fairly early on at Computair, things were run on a shoestring and carefully budgeted for. Nigel and Ray knew about the importance of the Ashrae trade fair, but the cost of travel to the US was a stumbling block. With impressive powers of persuasion, they managed to convince an industry publication to give them 2 seats on a privately-chartered aeroplane to New Orleans, where Ashrae was taking place.
During that first visit, Ray, a talented singer, also found himself leading an impromptu concert in a New Orleans bar. But that’s another story…