Token Ring – and no, that’s not Tolkein

Once upon a time – in the world before we had ethernet (thanks bob!) in the early days of office networking we used this thing called Token Ring.

Token Ring relied on a wire – “OH MY A WIRE!” a coaxial wire. If you have satellite or cable tv  today – THAT’s the cable. Co-ax in the jargon. The thing that goes into your box.


OK, so as we see in this photo – here’s how it works. the Coax comes in, hits the T juncture, that gets plugged into a computer and either the green cap TERMINATOR is installed or another coax is attached. The bottom of the T is where you plugged your computer in. It continues around all the other computers in the office. Simple.

So I get a call – “Your system isn’t working!”

See, for us – that’s the worst possible declaration – I mean it’s Sully “we’re landing in the Hudson” level.  Roll equipment, we’re going down, declaring.

That’s before evaluation – and since nobody dies if an office app fails, I said “I haven’t touched this software in several months. Has anything else changed?”

“NO! YOUR SYSTEM FAILED!” “OK Ok, I’ll come take a look.”

I walk in the office. The first thing I notice, is all of the office furniture has been rearranged. I walk along the desks – the coax is visible – and sure enough, I find a desk that has an open T connector.

“Ah – this is your problem”

“You see – this T connector has to have either a terminator or another connector- in this case – you’ve left it open.”

“what do you mean?”

I pondered that for a few moments and – came up with an answer/analogy -on the spot – that I’m still proud of.

“Well see – here’s the thing – its sorta like a garden hose and sprinkler system – as long as you connect a hose to the other side of that sprinkler, it’ll keep working. But if you don’t – it’ll just pour out right there. And in this case, all the electrons of information are spilling out the end of that wire.”

I WAS PROUD OF THAT. I nailed it in such a clear fashion that they would HAVE to understand.

Customer – with worried eyes  “Has it ruined our carpet?”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *