It's the mid-1980s and, in this close-knit IT shop, the dozen techies have a regular game they play: Spot the Bonuses.
"There were about eight developers, two guys on the network side of the team and two people on the operations team," says fish.
"Our company had mainframes running IBM's MVS operating system, and we used its TSO/ISPF software as our tool for everything related to our systems -- including the ability to see all print jobs in the queue, even as they're printing."
Most of the time, that's just used for managing the computer room's big line printers. But while the company payroll is handled by an outside outfit, for some reason the company prints bonus checks for its executives in-house.
Naturally, the amounts of those bonuses are a big secret. So when it's time to print the checks, the VP for administration notifies the operations team that they should run the job, which then queues up the checks for printing.
Then the VP comes down to the computer room for the actual check printing. The computer operator loads the checks onto the line printer and she selects the correct print job.
Then, before the operator can start the printing of the checks, the VP covers the little print window of the printer with cardboard -- so no one can see what's printing -- and asks the operator to leave the computer room while the checks are being printed.
"While waiting for the print job to finish, she would walk over by us and simply tell us that Fred was in the computer room," fish says. "That was our signal to go look at the print queue to see what was printing. Our favorite time was always the year-end bonus cycle, as year-to-date earnings were printed.
"None of us really cared who made what, but we always got a chuckle out of the increased level of secrecy the VP took. Not sure if this major gap in security was ever brought to the VP's attention or not."
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