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“Suspicious” notebook PC survives detonation by bomb squad

March 19, 1998
Web posted at: 3:37 PM EST (1537 GMT)

(CNN) – After being blown up by a police bomb squad, a computer belonging to a New York State government worker continued to function.

An unmarked, suspicious looking box was found in the parking lot of Rochester’s Army National Guard Armory in February. As a precaution, police called in the bomb squad to investigate. An examination by a remote-controlled robot revealed that the box contained wires and cables, so the bomb squad decided to detonate the package. The small blast tore the box apart and revealed a NEC Versa notebook computer and some peripherals, which had been reported stolen earlier. Some speakers, a CD-ROM drive and battery pack were damaged, as were the top panel and screen of the notebook, which took the brunt of the blast.

Following the blast, the owner hooked up the damaged machine to a VGA monitor, expecting it not to work. Instead, the machine booted up and he was able to send an email to the NEC customer service department, congratulating them.

"You make one rugged machine," wrote Joseph Songin, facilities manager at the armory. “I expected it to start smoking and had a fire extinguisher ready, but instead the password screen appeared. A quick check showed that all the files and software were undamaged and fully operational."

Despite this damage, the Versa, which was primarily used for map plotting, flight planning and conducting meteorological research, continued to function, without any data loss, damage to the processor, hard drive or memory slots.

The theft of the machine is still under investigation.


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