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A Fond Look at Some Obsolete Ports 528

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the tab-a-into-slot-b dept.
StealMyWiFi writes "C-NET.co.uk has a lighthearted look at ten of the best obsolete ports. The biggest surprise is that C-NET claims Firewire is obsolete, which will come as a surprise to the millions of people worldwide who are still using it, especially in light of the story that Firewire is due to get a massive speed boost! The same could be said for their claims about SCSI, although from a consumer point of view I guess that's fairer."
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A Fond Look at Some Obsolete Ports

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  • C-Net (Score:5, Funny)

    by Etrias (1121031) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:47PM (#22899552)
    C-net couldn't find an obsolete port with two hands, a map and a flashlight.
    • Re:C-Net (Score:5, Funny)

      by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:14PM (#22899944) Journal
      Which is ironic, since C-net, maps, and flashlights are all obsolete themselves.
    • Re:C-Net (Score:5, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:38PM (#22900810)
      That and I think they missed some Big ones.
      Serial 9 pin and 15 pin,
      CGA Video,
      VGA,
      ATA Keyboard,
      DIP Switches,
      Jumpers,
      Many Generations of Memory Slots

      But what I mess most is Serial and Parallel. It was great easy to make hardware and have it interact with your computer. And most OS's even good old DOS had easy to use ways of accessing the Com Port information. USB often adds an extra level of complexity for home job hardware.
      • Re:C-Net (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:58PM (#22901792)
        Yeah they missed some pretty other obvious:

        qotd 17/udp Quote of the Day
        gopher 70/tcp Gopher
        finger 79/tcp Finger
        pcmail-srv 158/tcp PCMail Server
        audit 182/tcp Unisys Audit SITP
        • Re:C-Net (Score:4, Insightful)

          by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Saturday March 29, 2008 @03:07AM (#22903162) Journal
          I miss finger. Back when the net was much more naive -- when everyone's mail server had port port 25 open and would gladly relay mail for anyone -- one could find some hapless nit on IRC, finger their ISP's terminal server, snag their user name, derive from that their real name, find their home address in a telephone directory, and fire up Mapblast or Terraserver and spook the hell out them by saying things like "That's a nice lake that you live next to. The water is very pretty this time of night, isn't it?"

          Now that I think of it, it's really surprising that I didn't wind up in jail when I was a kid.

          I think I'll install fingerd on my WRT54G and stuff some random information into it, just for old time's sake.

  • by eln (21727) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:47PM (#22899556) Homepage
    SCSI wasn't any fun anymore once they put in auto termination anyway. Long ago are the days when you couldn't get your SCSI disks to show up, no matter how you chained them or where you put the terminator. The only way to get it working was to cut yourself trying to connect the third drive for the 500th time and bleed all over the cables while swearing loudly. After that, everything would work just fine. You see, the dark lord will not allow SCSI to work without a blood sacrifice.
  • by stuporglue (1167677) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:48PM (#22899578) Homepage
    Although I've still had to use it in the last couple years for a couple of odd routers.
  • by microbee (682094) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:49PM (#22899592)
    Sadly, PS/2 was yet another victim of USB, which doesn't care what you plug into it, the electrical slut.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Crap, I hate you. And my apologies to SNL, Chevy Chase and Jane Curtain but here it goes ....

      USB you Electronic Slut
      • Re:This cracks me up (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dever (564514) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:11PM (#22901092) Journal
        nobody ever ever gets the 'jane, you ignorant slut.' jokes though. invariably some has to to do this:

        regarding Saturday Night Live and its Weekend Update skits:

        A frequent feature of Update during this time was Point-Counterpoint, in which Curtin and Aykroyd made vicious and humorously inappropriate ad hominem attacks on each other's positions on a variety of topics, in a parody of the 60 Minutes segment of the same name ...

        Aykroyd regularly began his reply with "Jane, you ignorant slut," which became another of the many SNL catch phrases. (Curtin frequently began her reply with, "Dan, you pompous ass".)

        there, now i have passed the torch to someone else who will explain this joke to the slash audience in a year or two again...

  • by Anonymous Crowhead (577505) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:49PM (#22899606)
    Netcraft confirmed their obsoletism years ago.
  • by El Cabri (13930) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:51PM (#22899620) Journal
    Describing SCART as a bad idea is very unfair. It's true you couldn't tell which signals were being monitored (unless a sophisticated TV would tell you), but consider this : thanks to SCART compliance, all European TVs on from the early-to-mid 80s were component RGB monitors. This was great for the consoles and home computers of the time. In the US at the same time, TVs only had RF inputs, and only later on the mediocre composite and S-video inputs, and only in the late 90s - early 2000s, and on higher end TVs saw component input generalized. And then not RGB component, rather that inferior differential component. So SCART has forced european TVs a twenty years headstart on the quality of analog input and changed the experience of everyone with a TV-based home computer in the 80s.

    Also it was bi-directionnal : a composite signal could travel from the TV to the peripheral and be simultaneously fed back from the peripheral to the TV. This allowed over-the-air pay-TV with a de-scrambler box that was simply plugged in on one of the SCARTs.
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:19PM (#22900018)
      So SCART has forced european TVs a twenty years headstart on the quality of analog input and changed the experience of everyone with a TV-based home computer in the 80s.

      Maybe it would be fairer to say that the Europeans were where they should have been at that point in time, while we were twenty years behind.
    • by Ilgaz (86384) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:48PM (#22900902) Homepage
      Lets not forget the ultimate practical inventions on SCART (which is still used!) like sending TV/Display "Switch to me" signal. (I guess over pin18) It is amazing that people designed HDMI missed it.

      In Europe, when you turn on a set top box, it will send a signal to TV from a special pin saying "Switch to me" and your TV will automatically switch to the device. If it is high end TV, it may ignore with a setting though. Some devices also send "Release my channel" and if your TV is wise enough, it will go back to last input source (or tuner). At least my cheap DVB-S receiver does it.

      They design a digital interface in 2000s and forget to put such thing in spec. HDMI could get much more popular if people didn't to click a button 4-5 times to switch to a satellite.

      Another guy mentioned: You design a thing which should replace SCART, promise people it is not just evil DRM, it is for ease of use and you still make it "Can be plugged one way only". At some houses, replacing a broken HDMI cable may need 2-3 guys, to handle the display.

      CNET is a IT oriented site, they have hard time to understand the TV World and why TV guys always "Stick with working thing". SCART is a thing from 1977, it will be there until EBU decides it is obsolete. TV doesn't work like computers, you can't fool around with standards unless there is absolute need for change. Whoever designed SCART and made it patent free (or cheap) with such scalability deserves a award for it.
      • by Tim Browse (9263) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:53PM (#22901388)

        They design a digital interface in 2000s and forget to put such thing in spec.

        They got it in eventually in HDMI v1.2a, according to wikipedia (the CEC channel [wikipedia.org]). Of course, it's completely optional and hence I've yet to meet a piece of eqpt that supports it.

        This may also have something to do with it:

        Alternative names for CEC are Anynet (Samsung), Aquos Link (Sharp), BRAVIA Theatre Sync (Sony), Regza Link (Toshiba), RIHD (Onkyo), Simplink (LG), Viera Link/EZ-Sync (Panasonic/JVC), Easylink (Philips) and NetCommand for HDMI (Mitsubishi).

        Muppets.

        It's like they were trying to outdo Bluetooth in the 'dead in the water launch' awards.

  • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:52PM (#22899640)
    The MS-DOS port of "Mortal Kombat" comes to mind...
  • by Naughty Bob (1004174) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:53PM (#22899644)
    It has just not achieved the success of its nemesis USB. But there are niche areas where Firewire is huge, and will continue to be so.

    After all, the recording industry, where Firewire is quite popular, still use god-awful MIDI.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fneb (1181615)
      Care to state why MIDI is 'god-awful'? The hardware involved in MIDI isn't your crappy consumer synthesizer that you hear when you play a .mid file on your computer. That's a crappy consumer MIDI synthesizer. Hardware MIDI is a superb standard that has been around for a long time, allowing connections between keyboards, synths, samplers, computers and sequencers with (next to?) no delay. At least, no delay that I've ever noticed. If you're going to call something 'god-awful', try to know what you're talking
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Naughty Bob (1004174) *

        If you're going to call something 'god-awful', try to know what you're talking about.
        I worked as a recording engineer for a little over 2 years, but quit because the popularity/glamour of the job keeps the wages down.

        MIDI was a revolution in about 1986, but has stood largely still since.

        If you compare what was going on in 1986, computer-wise, with today's tech, you'll see that there's been the odd improvement.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by harrkev (623093)
        AMEN! MIDI is still just as useful now as it ever was -- not bad for a standard that is over 20 years old.

        A lot of keyboards now have USB connectors, but that is basicly building a USB-to-MIDI adapter into the keyboard.

        USB can't really replace MIDI, as USB is a firmly-fixed one master controlling many slaves type of arrangement. With MIDI, there really doesn't need to be a master, as such, and I can imagine some setups where master/slave setups just wouldn't work, or would at least make the software a lot
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)
      Media folks like firewire because it actually performs better for the kind of data transfers they do than USB. If you look at the plain consumer-level specs of USB and Firewire, it seems obvious that USB is "faster", but that is not always the case. Which is why many ignorant folk (including, alas, myself) have asserted that USB had superseded firewire.

      As for MIDI, that sort of thing isn't peculiar to the recording industry. Sometimes a bad design continues to be used just because it isn't worth upgrading.
  • not obsolete... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:55PM (#22899670) Homepage
    ...Now only if it were secure [mooseyard.com]...
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xmsnBLUEet.nl minus berry> on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#22899678)
    Without [next] the [next] stupid [next] clickthroughs [next] and [next] ads [next]:
    1. DB-25 parallel port
    2. PS/2
    3. FireWire
    4. SCSI
    5. SCART
    6. ISA
    7. AGP
    8. PCMCIA
    9. Kryten's groin (from Red Dwarf)
    10. game cartridge port
    • by Kjella (173770) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:14PM (#22900608) Homepage
      Well, since they include internal "ports" like ISA and AGP, I'll tell you the one I wish they DID get rid of and it's the 4-pin AT power connector. It'll get stuck like it's glued on with superglue, and is my #1 cause of cuts, bruises, yanked cables and general mayhem inside a computer case. There's nothing like finally dragging it loose only to have your hand go ballistic through the cabinet while snagging other cables along the way so the entire machine needs checking afterwards. That and the 40-pin ATA cables and drives with with no notches and pin 1 marked by invisible ink, but that's fortunately long ago.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:56PM (#22899680) Homepage Journal
    SCSI is faaaar from dead. Actually, SCSI is dominating the market currently, killing all the competition. Except it's done with weird parallel buses with 50 different incompatible connectors. And it changed the name, but it's still the same old SCSI protocol.

    * ATAPI is SCSI over ATA - all non-SATA (or non-SCSI ;) CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs use it.
    * SATA is SCSI over a special serial cable. Meaning - only obsolete PATA disks are non-SCSI. All CD drives are SCSI this or another way.
    * USB Storage (pendrives, external drives etc) are all SCSI.

    Essentially mostly every mass storage device you connect to the computer is SCSI nowadays.
    • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:16PM (#22899976)

      SATA is SCSI over a special serial cable. Meaning - only obsolete PATA disks are non-SCSI. All CD drives are SCSI this or another way.


      Really isn't. The SATA and SCSI protocols are similar, but there is a real SCSI over serial cable, and it's called SAS (Serial-Attached SCSI). It's the same connectors and cables as SATA, running the real SCSI protocol. The drives are the same good old SCSI drives, costing ten times and much and running ten times as fast as their SATA cousins. It has replaced Ultra-640 SCSI as the system of choice for high-end RAID cages.

      USB Storage (pendrives, external drives etc) are all SCSI


      Not even close. USB mass storage is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike SCSI.

      ATAPI is SCSI over ATA


      That one's true though.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SharpFang (651121)
        Not even close. USB mass storage is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike SCSI.

        They support SCSI Primary Command (SPC) Set and SCSI Block Command (SBC) Set. That makes them very much compatible with SCSI ...on certain abstraction layer. There's of course USB architecture below and the filesystem above, but right there what makes them mass storage and not, say, printers or webcams from the OS point of view, is SCSI. The OS sees them as "removable SCSI drives".

        The SATA and SCSI protocols are similar

        SAS is a
        • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:16PM (#22900624)

          They support SCSI Primary Command (SPC) Set and SCSI Block Command (SBC) Set. That makes them very much compatible with SCSI


          No. It means that they copied a chunk of text out of the SCSI spec because it was as good a way as any. SCSI is a whole lot more than just the parts they copied, and they added some stuff of their own. USB mass storage devices are not compatible with SCSI in any way.

          The OS sees them as "removable SCSI drives"


          You're thinking of Linux, and that was purely a design decision based on the relative cruftiness of different parts of the kernel. It has nothing to do with the underlying protocol.

          And SAS supports SATA devices.


          No. They have the same connectors and you can build a multi-mode controller that accepts either, but the wire protocol and even line voltages are different. If you plug an SATA drive into a regular SAS controller then it will flag an error and do nothing.

          Meaning that SATA, being a subset of SAS


          No. SATA is not a subset of SCSI. SATA has features that SCSI does not. SCSI has features that SATA does not. They have very little in common except that the protocols look vaguely similar.

          Even though SATA protocol is only -similar- to SCSI of the old, it is a part of -current- SCSI standard (SAS)


          The SATA protocol is specified by SATA-IO. The SCSI protocol is specified by INCITS. They are completely different organisations, and the documents that specify them are entirely separate. The only thing they really have in common is the connectors and cabling.

          Please don't just make stuff up. You could have learned all of this from Wikipedia if you had bothered.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stonecypher (118140)

      SCSI is faaaar from dead

      Try to pay attention. They're saying the SCSI port is dead, not SCSI. Why? Because no SCSI connection has used anything but an SATA port for years.

      ATAPI is SCSI over ATA

      No, it isn't. It's EIDE/2.

      SATA is SCSI over a special serial cable

      ... which should help you understand why the SCSI port is obsolete.

      USB Storage (pendrives, external drives etc) are all SCSI.

      Number one, no they aren't. Number two, that has nothing to do with the SCSI port.

      Essentially mostly every mass storage dev

  • by jameskojiro (705701) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:57PM (#22899702) Journal
    He is going to built in the future, he is like totally super advanced by today's standards. Can a USB port whisk an omelette? NO! Can a SATA port trim a hedge? NO! Can a PCI-Express port vaccum off the sofa? NO!!!!

    If you want a port that can interface with anything and do almost anything and plug into almost any sort of appliance, just ask Kryten to dry hump it and your wish will be fulfilled!

  • by beckerist (985855) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:58PM (#22899718) Homepage
    My FIRST "networked environment:" Two computers, a bi-directional crossover LPT cable and some REALLY crappy Novell software. Definitely some frustrating times just to play Warcraft I against a single friend!
  • FCC mandate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Snook (872473) on Friday March 28, 2008 @05:59PM (#22899738)
    Firewire is certainly more niche than USB, but in its niche, it's very good. That may be why the FCC has mandated that hi-def digital cable providers in the United States provide firewire-equipped cable boxes to any customers that ask for them. If you're doing media capture, it's really an excellent interface. If you want to plug in general purpose peripherals, USB is usually a better fit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by m85476585 (884822)
      But good luck using the firewire port. I have a Comcast DVR, and it was a huge pain to get video off it.
      1. Drivers came from a random third party website, and they are not that great. There are no drivers from Comcast or Motorola (the manufacturer).
      2. Recorded TV had to be played in realtime
      3. The output was a .TS file, and I had a hard time finding free programs that could convert it to standard mpg files.
      4. If I fast-forwarded while copying a recording, the output file would not play

      They also have 2 USB por

  • Missing option (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xmsnBLUEet.nl minus berry> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#22899772)
    ADB. It was brilliant in its day, better than USB in some areas, e.g. it included the ability to switch your computer on/off from the keyboard.
    Also, Apple made a habit of including ADB ports in its monitors, so you could plug your keyboard and mouse into the monitor. Pity that never caught on either.
  • by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#22899776)
    If you ever get the chance, pull a running scsi drive out of a computer. Hold it your hand and try rotating your wrist. Very nice angular momentum demonstration. The platters are spinning so fast the drive will counter your wrist rotation quite forcibly.
  • by starling (26204) <strayling20@gmail.com> on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#22899784)
    Where's the love?
    • RS232 is 'good enough' for text and therefore has remained the console of choice in the datacenter for many servers and any remotely serious networking equipment.

      Any decent admin has to have at least a half-dozen serial cables and adapters to plug from arbitrary DB9, RJ45, RJ11, Mini-USB, and who knows what else form factors carrying nothing more than the RS232 signals in various random pinouts. Yes, I've even seen a USB form-factor that wasn't used for USB signalling.
  • by theolein (316044) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:03PM (#22899794) Journal
    Actually, it was this morning. I had trashed a colleague's external drive, and along with it 100GB of data. In a flat panic, I hauled my Firewire 800 RAID enclosure from Lacie, and together with the totally amazing Data Rescue II from Prosoft, I had almost all of his data back back by Lunch today. The sheer speed of a Firewire 800 drive compared to a USB 2.0 drive made it all worth the while. USB simply doesn't compare in terms of reliability and speed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Swampash (1131503)
      In my experience (and I use both interfaces quite a bit) USB 2.0 doesn't compare in terms of reliability and speed with Firewire 400.
  • by nguy (1207026) on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:05PM (#22899818)
    For nerds, it's obviously the "P" (male) and "V" (female) ports that are, for practical purposes, never used and hence obsolete.

    I know, people like to make sure that their "P" port remains gleaming and in good shape by regularly polishing it, but, seriously, give it up guys.
  • Firewire dead? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jdb2 (800046) * on Friday March 28, 2008 @06:08PM (#22899836) Journal
    I don't think so. We already know about the upcoming 3.2GB/s standard, but there is more.
    They plan on doubling the speed to 6.4GB/s -- google for S6400. Also, the new standard(s)
    extend firwire so as to allow it to operate over other mediums, such as Ethernet, Coax, and Fiber.

    Yes, Firewire looks really dead to me. No matter what country a Cnet editor comes from, he/she's
    probably an idiot. (eg. why didn't they include 32-bit PCI?)


    jdb2
  • While you can argue back and forth whether or not SCSI is still faster than SATA, and which has the better transfer rates in what situation, they really missed one of the biggest advantages of SCSI hardware:

    MTBF

    SCSI drives have generally had 10x higher MTBF ratings, which means a lot when you're installing a drive in a server that needs to run for five nines. Sure, the difference in access is great, but its really the longevity that counts. Your gaming box can cope with a drive that is only supposed to stand up to a year or two of usage - you'll need more storage for your porn by then anyways - but server hard drives need to be able to take a beating constantly, and longer.

    That was why I was always willing to dish out the extra coin for SCSI drives for my servers back when I was an admin.
  • by Nimey (114278) on Friday March 28, 2008 @07:15PM (#22900618) Homepage Journal
    Hardly, ignoring that the author meant 5400 RPM. In the Windows 3.x days our IDE hard drives were 3600 RPM and didn't even use DMA or multi-sector reads. We thought we had it good because it'd take over 100 floppies to store the same amount of data.

    You tell kids that nowadays, and they wouldn't believe you.
  • Am I the only one... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by afabbro (33948) on Friday March 28, 2008 @08:53PM (#22901394) Homepage
    ...who saw the headline and though the article would be a list of ports like 23 (tcp) and 117 (uucp)?
  • Another one: DB15 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday March 28, 2008 @09:35PM (#22901652) Journal
    For YEARS Apple refused to get on with the VGA thing, and Apple users had to pay a premium for a monitor that sported a DB15 port. Nasty. I still don't understand why they did that... there were Adaptor plugs for DB15 > VGA all over the place, and eventually Apple dumped DB15, about 10 years too late.

    RS

    • by slashbart (316113) on Saturday March 29, 2008 @08:16AM (#22903966) Homepage
      When apple had this custom display connector, pc users were very often struggling just to get any kind of image on a monitor; it was a pain in the ass to figure out the correct frequencies.
      The Apple connectors told the computer what kind of resolution and refresh frequency they needed (with simple wiring, no protocol whatsoever), so as usual, the Apples were plug-and-play, whereas the pc's were plug-and-fiddle and then plug-and-pray.

      Then NEC invented the multisync monitor, which had as its main purpose to ease the hassles for pc's. This worked very well, the whole industry shifted, and the vga connector became a very useful standard, which was eventually also used by Apple.

      Bart

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