It's the late 1970s, and this data center has a high-performance IBM 360/75 mainframe that sports a massive 1 MB of core memory — one of only four in the world, reports a computer operator pilot fish working there.

"I was a smoker and, of course, smoking in the computer room was forbidden due to the smoke detectors," fish says.

"One night shift I was the lone person in the building. I was walking through a hallway not even close to the computer room when I heard a very loud whooshing noise that sounded like hundreds of tires being deflated at the same time."

Fish runs to the computer room and sees a cloud of white, heavy fog covering the entire room. He knows what happened: The Halon fire-suppression system has deployed.

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