NOTE: "Gamma" is a now-retired VAX 6000-series which was the main campus
machine for Drew University -- the one all students had an account on. When
you logged into the system, the login notes showed a cheesy ASCII
representation of the Greek letter gamma, which also resembled a gallows.
As for the rest of the in-jokes in here, I couldn't even begin to explain
them all, so I won't even try. Chances are if you're a Drew student you'll
get some of this; if you're a Drew alum from the classes of '90-'93, you'll
get all of it. If you have no Drew affiliation, it's still worth reading,
although few of the places and names will mean much to you.
From: mrichich (Mike Richichi)
Subject: Re: Login.com with DCL from the menu.
Date: 9 Mar 90 01:15:14 GMT
firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Coen) writes:
> Sort of:
> Here's what happens when you log onto Gamma.
> your process gets started, then just before you get a $ or whatever,
> it runs SYS$MANAGER:SYLOGIN.COM which sets up symbols and stuff that
> we want everyone to have. Actually, sylogin.com is so important that
> one runs two identical copies of it when one logs into gamma.
> (Actually, that's not the real reason--the real reason for running it
> twice is that the person who did the final install, [you-know-who],
> doesn't know what he's doing.)
> The last step in the second copy of sylogin.com is the running of the
> Normal behavior for VMS is to run the login.com following the
> execution of the sylogin.com. Therefore, when you exit the menu, you
> exit the sylogin, and your login.com gets run. Make sense?
Actually, Paul's not quite entirely right. This is what happens:
1) You get the wonderful little "Welcome to Node Gamma" message with a
picture of a gallows. You type in a valid username and password, and
2) There are a row of steel ball bearings in a rail on top of Gamma in the
Network Center. One of these is released and begins rolling around on
specially designed tracks about the Network Center.
3) The DECtalk interface calls the System Manager, who then walks from his
office and loads the tape with your account on it so you can log in.
4) He gets this wrong and has to do it again.
5) The ball bearing reaches a wall switch, flicking it and turning it on.
The switch controls the disk drive that your account is put on after the
tape copies it over.
6) Once again, DECtalk calls the University Chaplain, who says a
wonderfully succinct, beautiful, eloquent and earth-shaking prayer wishing
that your session on Gamma is free from harm, that you meet wonderful
people on Relay, that you find the books you want, and that no one is
calling for your resignation on NEWS.
7) By this time, your account is safely on disk, and now you start running
the system command file that controls things. It sets up all kinds of
things, like where the menu files are, how to get to the library, the
address of the nearest 7-Eleven, and your vital statistics.
8) A carrier pigeon takes off with a message tied to its leg. It lands 30
minutes later at NJIT, where Electric Monks frantically transcribe your
messages into their computer. This is BITNET.
9) Repeat step 7.
10) The "all lines busy" man tries to log in, but can't.
11) For no readily apparent reason (but, believe me, if they didn't none of
this would work), everyone in Alternate Mead removes their clothing.
12) Repeat step 7.
13) Gamma calls 3556 and suddenly, you get the Drew Menu.
14) A temporal vortex opens up inside Gamma, taking All-In-One (just
15) Repeat step 12.
16) The ball bearing is returned to the top of the stack, the System
manager stumbles back to his office, the Chaplain continues being holy, the
carrier pigeon returns, the "all lines busy" man gets busy doing something
else, everyone in Alternate Mead puts their clothing back on (thankfully),
and a temporal vortex opens up inside Gamma, taking All-In-One (just
17) You see what you usually see when you log in.
That's about it.