I'm reading "Creativity, Inc." by Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace. There are many wonderful little stories in this book, but I want to highlight just one here, a story many of us running UNIX systems can appreciate.
When Pixar was still relatively young and working on Toy Story 2, someone entered the following command on one of their computers with all the Toy Story 2 shots:
/bin/rm -r -f *
Any UNIX user knows the horror this command can cause, and indeed, before the execution could be stopped, two years of work – 90% of the film – had been deleted.
In a meeting an hour later:
"Don't worry," we all reassured each other. "We'll restore the data from the backup system tonight. We'll only lose half a day of work."
Then horror #2 hit: the backup system wasn't working!!!
Pixar still wasn't the powerhouse we think of it as today. It was vulnerable. This could be a real disaster for the company.
But then salvation came from a mom. Galyn Susman had recently had her second child, so she was working at home more. To support this, she set up a system at home that copied the film database once a week.
Within a minute of her epiphany, Galyn and Oren were in her Volvo, speeding to her home in San Anselmo. They got her computer, wrapped it in blankets, and placed it carefully in the backseat. Then they drove in the slow lane all the way back to the office, where the machine was, as Oren describes it, “carried into Pixar like an Egyptian pharaoh.”
While Toy Story 2 would go through many more tribulations (you'll have to read the book), this "accidental offsite backup" saved a near-panic situation for a still vulnerable Pixar.
I cannot help but think of the rhyme "For Want of a Nail", but in this case, it begins with a woman getting pregnant, which eventually saves Pixar's butt.
Sources for the book "Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration" include: