Given how terrible the news has been lately, I thought it would be fun to circle back to my favorite tech news story of all time.
(04/09/01, 4:28 p.m. ET) – The University of North Carolina has finally found a network server that, although missing for four years, hasn’t missed a packet in all that time. Try as they might, university administrators couldn’t find the server. Working with Novell Inc., IT workers tracked it down by meticulously following cable until they literally ran into a wall. The server had been mistakenly sealed behind drywall by maintenance workers.
Just like many of my other favorites, however, the story has not aged well. When I poked around the Internet to see if I could find more details for this post, I learned that the original news item is simply not true. Judson Knott, director of Academic Computing Systems at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill at the time, disavowed the story almost immediately:
“I believe that this is what is commonly known as an urban legend. If it were a true story and Server 54 belonged to my organization, I would identify and fire the system administrator responsible for losing a server for four years. We run a first-class IT operation here in Chapel Hill and it is embarrassing to be associated with this kind of story.”
I love the whimsy of the original story, and I want to believe it really happened to someone somewhere, even though it almost certainly didn’t. This whole exercise makes me wonder what other things I’ve “known” for years and years that are in reality simply urban legends or half-truths.
What things did you learn were incorrect after years of believing otherwise?