Re: "disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines"
Pah. You don't know fun until you get told (the halcyon days of 1982) by the Ops guys that one of those washing machines has crashed. Ok, sigh. I enter the machine room and walk to the indicated disk drive. Yes, all indications it has joined the choir invisible.
I popped open the lid. The disk manufacturers I don't recall (the mainframe clone was an SEL, Systems Electronics Laboratories steam-powered behemoth) but they had a fan when the lid was opened blew filtered air up and out to discourage dust from falling in while you switched disk packs in and out.
In this case I was struck in the face and chest by tiny bits of paper and bits of now free-floating oxide disk coating.
One of the morning operators had put in the "daytime" systems disk but there was a piece of paper stuck to the bottom of it. He'd not noticed, closed the lid, spun it up, disk heads emerged, and made contact with the paper. Not only was the paper shredded but the heads and paper hit the disk drives and freed oxide.
Much fun was had when I had to rebuild the system disk from base tapes and install all updates (backups were, um, corrupted).
Also fun when I had to call it in for service.
"What? Did you say paper?" Even with his hand apparently over the mouthpiece the torrents of laughter as he relayed this to the rest of the office were clear.