By Ben |

30 years ago this summer, between my junior and senior years of high school, I was the Oklahoma delegate to the Department of Energy's Supercomputer Honors Program at Lawrence-Livermore National Lab. There, among other things, we all learned to use UNIX both on the command line and in X11.

That was also the summer that Jurassic Park came out, and most of the delegates went to see it. (I had other plans that night.) They reported that they cheered at the line, "It's a UNIX system! I know this!"

That fall, I took an intro to psychology class that turned out to be taught by a wrestling coach, who was not much good at being a teacher. One day he said he had asked a friend who worked in a lab for a computer he could use for maintaining gradebooks, etc., and the friend had given him a peculiar, retro-futuristic, all-in-one console. It looked like something out of The Jetsons. He couldn't figure out how to work it, and so he had asked students all day to try to figure it out.

I sat down at it and recognized it as a UNIX workstation with a green, text-only display. At the login prompt, after some consideration, I logged in as "root" with no password, and immediately I got a # prompt. The thing was completely unprotected. I triumphantly repeated the line from the movie.

The computer's hard disk was full of mysterious files that had no .txt file extensions (since UNIX doesn't require them to) but turned out to be text files nonetheless. The entire class was watching over my shoulder as I paged through them with the "more" command.

They were pornography, rendered in ASCII characters.

The coach asked me to leave the files and log out. I never saw the workstation again.