What? Why were the monkeys still in the swimming tank with caps attached when maintenance was being done?
The story, while amusing, sounds pretty fictitious. Why would “writes” to a disk drive controller produce enough current to “zap” the simians through the skin and cause catastrophic health problems? According to this site, the electric chair used to electrocute humans is somewhere between 700 and 2200 volts at 5-20 amps. If your mainframe has that kind of juice flowing through it in order to control a disk drive, you’ve gone horribly wrong.
The take away of this story: Don’t let DEC make disk controllers.
You can kill people unreliably with 100mA between their two arms; it often sends their heart into fibrillation. If you stick electrodes into your animal’s brain, which is a normal thing to do for neuroscience experiments, you can cause convulsions with stimulation down in the microamps.