Unusual uses for a ball-point pen
- Before PCI there was ISA. The pinout for ISA slots had one very convenient property: If you shorted the last two pins in an open ISA slot, you generated an NMI. (This trick is alluded to in passing in this discussion of generating crash dumps from hardware.)It so happened that the tip of a ball-point pen was the ideal shape for accomplishing this. You inserted the tip of the pen at the very end of an open slot (the end nearest the back of the computer) and slowly dragged it towards the front of the computer until it shorted the nearest pair of pins.