Lethal computers? (was: Goodwill Computerworks Museum is open

From: Richard Erlacher <richard_at_idcomm.com>
Date: Tue Aug 22 18:02:25 2000

True, it's almost ridiculous, but, evidence abounds that if you stand to
lose enough and if your exposure to the public is sufficient, someone WILL
do something that will do YOU in, whether legally, financially, physically,
or any thing else, or perhaps some combination thereof.

Having a museum, which typically produces MINIMAL revenue, and having
displays which are essentially irreplaceable, you have to protect the
contents, first of all from abuse and theft, and secondly from production of
liability. Suppose someone drops a hot cup of coffee, brought into the
museum in spite of the signs warning against food or beverages, in their lap
because the UPS alarm starts up and startles them. Now suppose their lawyer
tells the jury about the dreadful pain of having the hot coffee scald and
later embarrass the vicitim because the subsequent stain looked like "an
inside job" rather than a spill . . . Remember the McDonald's lawsuit? Now
imagine that you're in California, where, based on TV reports, someone is
robbed every 11.7 seconds, raped avery 15 minutes, and murdered seventeen
times a day (per capita??? how does that work?) . . . and where jury awards
have broken every record but one . . . both in number and in quantity.

I wasn't suggesting that visitors would kill themselves by electrocution,
though kids hiding in the PSU racks might come close. However, a split
toenail resulting from dropping a terminal on one's foot could yield a few


----- Original Message -----
From: Fred Cisin (XenoSoft) <cisin_at_xenosoft.com>
To: <classiccmp_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 10:28 AM
Subject: Lethal computers? (was: Goodwill Computerworks Museum is open

> Sellam said that Goodwill should turn the machines on and let people play
> with them.
> Richard said that that would create excessive liability exposure.
> Just how frequent ARE fatalities from computers?
> Unless somebody opens the case, "connecting himself to the mains through
> your display" seems a little difficult.
> 'Course there is the issue of mental anguish.
> In fact, the only dcocumented fatality that I've found from a
> microcomputer was from the frustration of serial interfacing: a guy paid
> the owner of a store to get his new serial printer going. After six weeks
> of failure, he shot and killed the store owner.
> --
> Grumpy Ol' Fred cisin_at_xenosoft.com
> On Tue, 22 Aug 2000, Richard Erlacher wrote:
> > Are you sure that's safe? Not just for the machine, but also for the
> > public. It only takes one idiot to break a computer, but an idiot
> > bankrupt you just by doing something unfathomably stupid like connecting
> > himself to the mains through your display.
> >
> > Don't you think you've got a responsibility to protect your entire
> > collection by preventing the idiot from having you closed down just by
> > killing himself with his own stupidity, for which the courts will surely
> > blame you?
> >
> > Dick
Received on Tue Aug 22 2000 - 18:02:25 BST

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