It was the '90s, and Windows was just beginning to make inroads into the PCs at our company. We were in the very early stages of the migration to Windows, so most users still used our old DOS menu system.
Prior to Windows, all of our DOS-based software ran off of a text menu system sitting on the network, eliminating the need for our users to understand such things as command prompts, PATH commands, or environment variables. This saved some time on training new users -- a good thing in an understaffed and underfunded department.
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One morning I got a call from Accounting saying that the job-costing system was broken, and there was a "weird message" on the screen. It had been a busy morning; I'd already received three separate requests to restore files from the public folder on the network.
I went to investigate. When I got to the accountant's desk I could see an error message in an ugly black block of text over the normally colorful text interface -- something about a missing database on the network drive. Uh-oh, not good! I headed back to my desk to troubleshoot.
En route, I was paged to the label-printing system in the factory. Since any shipments of our products required printed labels, problems with this system had always been a high priority for me. I detoured to the warehouse. The foreman told me that he'd started a run of labels and halfway through, the labels stopped and the computer wasn't working.
I rebooted it, logged in using the warehouse ID, and tried to restart the label system. I selected it from the menu, the screen went black for a second, then the menu returned. I tried again and this time caught the "Bad command or filename" message as it flashed on the screen just before the menu returned. I tried one more time, same result. I tried another menu option, also same result. I tried one more option and an error message flashed on the screen, followed by a DOS prompt. I tried to restart the menu system, but it didn't seem to exist.