TDISH: A Casino Goes Boom!

On August 26, 1980, an IBM photocopier was delivered to the Harvey’s Resort and Casino in Stateline, Nevada on the shores of Lake Tahoe.  That’s it!

Just kidding. This was not ordinary photocopier – and it wasn’t actually ordered by Harvey’s Casino.  The copier delivered on that morning caused some confusion in the casino and after the deliverymen left, management inspected the unexpected machine.  Inside the machine, they found a note to the bomb squad saying that this was actually a non-defusable bomb with multiple fail-safes that would not even allow the machine to be moved further.  Casino management called in the police and the FBI bomb squad arrived and evacuated the building.  The bomb was among the biggest the FBI had ever seen in its long history.  The detailed ransom note demanded $3 million to be paid in unmarked $100 bills in exchange for the instructions about how to move the device so the authorities could do a controlled explosion.  Authorities x-rayed the machine and developed a plan of action, however their attempts to defuse the bomb failed causing a large explosion that caused extensive damage to the Harvey’s Casino.  Thankfully, no one was killed or even injured thanks to the earlier evacuation.  The creator of the bomb was soon discovered to be 59-year old John Birges, Sr. who had built the bomb out of anger at a massive gambling debt he had amassed at Harvey’s.  Birges was convicted and died in a Nevada prison in 1996.

Featured Image: “Harvey’s Bombing.” By Federal Bureau of Investigation –, Public Domain.
Source: “A Byte Out of History.” FBI.



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