I'm trying to verify an urban tech legend I heard a few years ago.

Some poor SuperMac TechSport got a call from some middle level official... from the legitimate government of Trinidad. The fellow spoke very good English, and fairly calmly described the problem.

It seemed there was a coup attempt in progress at that moment. However, the national armoury for that city was kept in the same building as the Legislature, and it seems that there was a combination lock on the door to the armoury. Of the people in the capitol city that day, only the Chief of the Capitol Guard and the Chief Armourer knew the combination to the lock, and they had already been killed.

So, this officer of the government of Trinidad continued, the problem is this. The combination to the lock is stored in a file on the Macintosh, but the file has been encrypted with the SuperMac product called Sentinel. Was there any chance, he asked, that there was a "back door" to the application, so they could get the combination, open the armoury door, and defend the Capitol Building and the legitimately elected government of Trinidad against the insurgents?

Source: eff.org, but this has spread for years, dating back to at least 1995

Did this happen?

  • 2
    Have you read this online? You need to find a source for this story somewhere or your question will be closed (not notable). See the FAQ for notability guidelines.
    – John Lyon
    Sep 3, 2012 at 22:58
  • @jozzas I finally found a source
    – RNs_Ghost
    Sep 5, 2012 at 15:59
  • I am no Trinidadian history buff, but Jamaat al Muslimeen coup attempt seems the likely candidate.
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 5, 2012 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


The story doesn't quite add up:

That night, the legitimate government of Trinidad fell. One of the BBC reporters mentioned that the casualties seemed heaviest in the capitol, where for some reason, there seemed to be little return fire from the government forces.

This doesn't make much sense, as the only places they stormed were in the capitol. And most people were taken hostage, not killed.

Also note that the original story is in the category "Folklore/Humor", which doesn't speak very high of it's credibility.

  • 2
    Actually, if the government was unable to return fire then that would lend credence to the story. That they did not have guns to defend them selves would make them more willing to surrender or flee rather than fight. And the category of the story would lend reason to be skeptical but is not proof itself that there is no truth to it.
    – Chad
    Sep 10, 2012 at 19:06

As the author of Sentinel I can confirm that in the summer of 1990 Supermac tech support did receive a call from someone claiming to be a representative of the government of Trinidad. The story largely matches my recollection including the notion that the keys to the armory were encrypted. I was skeptical at first but took it a little more seriously when I listened to the BBC world service later that evening.

  • 5
    Can you verify that you are, in fact, the author of Sentinel and/or that such a call was received?
    – jwodder
    Aug 11, 2013 at 21:48

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