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Hardware Technology

What's the Oldest Hardware You are Still Using? 1705

Posted by Cliff
from the oldies-but-goodies dept.
ScottBob asks: "Seeing the recent post about the vintage computer festival got me thinking about old hardware I'm still using in my 'modern' computer. I have a 1 ghz Celeryonion machine, but when I bought the mobo I specifically looked for one with an ISA slot so I could still use my old Zoltrix modem I bought in '97 when V.90 was adopted (when it probably would have been cheaper to buy an ISA-less mobo and a PCI modem). I've also moved a '93 model floppy drive from machine to machine, and it still works. Usually, monitors and power supplies survive the ravage Moore's law has on hardware, but what other things does everybody else save when they cruft together a new machine? Anybody ever do things like disguise a 4 GHz P4 in an ancient 8086 machine box? While on the subject, is anybody still running old DOS programs in a DOS box on a Windows machine (e.g. a database) because your company is too poor/cheap to upgrade or doesn't want to bother with any free alternatives?"
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What's the Oldest Hardware You are Still Using?

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  • Not much but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by de Selby (167520) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:51PM (#7204317)
    Just my Sound Blaster 16 ISA card.
  • My oldest hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by MC68040 (462186) <.henric. .at. .digital-bless.com.> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:52PM (#7204338) Homepage
    I've got a Macintosh IIx (16 Mhz, 80 MB SCSI hd, 8 MB ram) setted up with OpenBSD running my printserver for my Laserjet 4 MV from HP and my very very old Apple StyleWriter II that still prints illustrations and such beautifully.

    Other than that... I've also got a Mac SE/30 with NetBSD that isn't in use... I'm thinking of remaking on old PC-1 from IBM (7 mhz) I got in the basement to something fun though.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:53PM (#7204353) Homepage
    At one place which I assist with IT in, we still run the same UNIX-based billing/accounting system as we did in 1986.

    As I am comparitively new, compared to most of this hardware, I wasn't around to see it installed. About 8 years ago, the original Bell Labs Unix server was replaced with an x86 SCO box.

    Many of the Terminals remaining are original. The printers both lasted until about a year ago when they simultaneously died.

    Our software vendor stopped supplying updates about 3 years ago when they switched to windows. Last month, they completely pulled the plug, and in order to stay legal, we must now move to windows, which will be expensive initially and in the long-run.

    I don't pay attention to the SCO system. It just works. It has worked for 17 years. Over those 17 years, we had to purchase one server, a few terminals, and a printer. With windows, we will need to maintain a 3 year upgrade cycle.

    And the sad part about all of this is that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the unix hardware. Last week, I sadly removed the terminals, and installed terminal emulation software on the new windows PCs. Sure, I could have attempted telnet, but the server predates TCP/IP, and I feared corrupting the otherwise flawless system in place.

    I know we have plenty of reasons to bash SCO, but I must testify that anything that can last 17 years with little or no maintence is worth keeping. I've already had calls about the windows hardware not working as expected. Ugh.
  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday October 13, 2003 @11:34PM (#7205364) Homepage
    A company called Unicomp bought the rights to the original design. They are still available, steel backplate, buckling springs, sensible layout, and all. get 'em here, $50 a pop [pckeyboard.com].

    I bought four, one for each machine I use at work (including a Mac - used a USB-PS2 converter) and one for my PC at home. They absolutely kick ass. I saw many of the original IBM keyboards at the Vintage Conputer Festival last weekend - tested the feel and weight of them and the original ones are identical to the current ones from Unicomp as far as I can tell.
  • by aiyo (653781) on Monday October 13, 2003 @11:55PM (#7205527)
    Hey buddy, I got 3 model m boards for $12 on ebay and managed to swipe one at the university. Look around before dropping $200 on keyboards. =)
  • Re:Power Cord (Score:2, Informative)

    by blugu64 (633729) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @12:04AM (#7205582) Homepage
    well that powercord was also used on most of the other early classic mac's like the Mac Plus, SE, 512k, and several others.
  • by Jennifer E. Elaan (463827) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @12:13AM (#7205634) Homepage
    sc2.sourceforge.net is where you will find Star Control 2, restored to its original glory for Linux PCs. It even has voices, which the original PC version did not. I play it altogether too much.
  • by KrispyKringle (672903) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @12:18AM (#7205660)
    Pilots are not required to carry a slide rule, but it is common practice. Pilots use a special circular slide rule known as an E6B, with a special design that makes it very easy to do calculations such as time needed to travel a certain distance at a certain speed, flight time for a certain amount of feul, etc.

    I use an E6B, not for reliability but because it's cheap. But I've seen many catalogues and flight shops sell "electronic E6B's", presumably just calculators optimized again for those sorts of problems. I've seen them in use, but never tried it myself.

    Anyway, if the avionics electronics all failed, you'd face more difficulties navigating than having your calculator or not, most likely (though you'd have no issues staying aloft on a plane thats not fly-by-wire--the avionics electrical system is independent of the magnetos that provide the spark for combustion in the engine).

  • Re:Amiga 1000! (Score:4, Informative)

    by lexus99 (527528) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @01:02AM (#7205907)

    I still have an A2000/040 running at the TV station where I work. At one time, we had five Amigas running doing various tasks, including a 1200 doing a constant "glass" logo in the bottom right corner of the screen.

    The aforementioned A2000's only job these days is to reach into the Associated Press (AP NewsDesk, running WinNT4_SP6) server via Samba, parse the individual scripts for the latest news program, order them, comma delimit them, and send them to a Linux PostgreSQL server where it is automatically imported, and available via our web page (wdtv.com). All done using AREXX (Amiga REXX) and EZCron [iolinc.net] (a gui cron written by myself, with a little help from our past Chief Engineer.

    Ah, the beauty of it all! It runs 24/7, has not been rebooted since I can remember, and even processes ScreamerNet frames with Lightwave 3D in its spare time (OK, it's slow at that task, but helps about 5%).

  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @01:06AM (#7205926) Journal
    I have to disagree with you there. OEM-supplied components *are* quite flimsy, since they compete on essentially nothing but price (well, perhaps extra volume buttons on the keyboard might be a selling point).

    There are a number of manufacturers that produce more highly-price, nicer input devices. Among them, Logitech [logitech.com],
    which sells a whole line of wireless keyboards, PCKeyboard, which has among its offerings modern versions of old-IBM-Model-M style buckling-spring mechanism keyboards (CLICK CLICK CLICK...), Fingerworks [fingerworks.com]' unusual offerings, the expensive-but-ultimate-RSI-avoidance Kinesis [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboards, and Goldtouch's [goldtouch.com] ergo products.
  • Mac LCII (Score:4, Informative)

    by guamman (527778) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @04:33AM (#7206744)
    I am still using a Macintosh LCII running at a blistering 16MHz. It is still in the original configuration with the original 40MB harddrive. I use it at my small business to print up signs and tags for merchendise.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @04:46AM (#7206780) Homepage
    Been in the family the whole time. Still runs like new.

    Oh, and I drag out a 1990 dot matrix printer once a year to print some 3-part forms for my daughters' school auction. They better graduate before the ribbon wears out.
  • Amiga (Score:4, Informative)

    by chegosaurus (98703) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:07AM (#7206969) Homepage
    Not exactly vintage, but my A1200 still sees a fair bit of use, primarily to run Bars and Pipes, but SWOS gets the odd outing too. I have an A4000 too, but it makes too much noise for the environment I want to use it in. Every time I use the Amiga I'm surprised by the speed and friendliness of the OS. Wonderful computers.

    I've also got a Sun ELC (external disk, board in the back of the monitor) which I dig out when I need to check something on SunOS 2.5. Which, admittedly, doesn't happen an awful lot these days.

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