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Hardware Technology

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

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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  • Oldest hardware I have is my video card. Damn not having money...
  • Power Cord (Score:5, Funny)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yburxyno>> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:46PM (#7204264)
    Power Cord, leftover from 8086. Least valuable part then, most valuable part now. Still using it too.
    • I'm using MS Xenix (actually SCO) on 5.25 Floppies and I also have an old DOS 3.2 with GW Basic (forshadowing GW Bush maybe?). Nothing beats playing with an old system to help you realize what you've got.

    • I'm still using a power cord from a 1984 vintage Mac 128K. I know it's from that cause there's an Apple embossed in the plug.
    • Yeah I have a few old power chords lying around too.
      I believe they originally came from Iron Maiden's 1982 album "The Number of the Beast".
  • For those vintage games, my personal favorite being Darklands by Microprose, and the occasional bout of A-Train my Maxis. Still can't beat a 486 with DOS 5.0 for some stuff :-) actually our voicemail system at work is DOS 6.2 as well.
    • by LordBodak ( 561365 ) <`msmoulton' `at' `'> on Monday October 13, 2003 @10:38PM (#7204852) Homepage Journal
      My 486 is still running like a champ.

      It's a 486/33, homebuilt in December of 1993. Currently serving as the house firewall, it's been running 24/7 since May of 2001. Ran 24/7 during summers in 1999 & 2000, plus other vacations. Before Fall of 1997 it was my normal machine (until I started college).

      It's got an upgraded video card (4 MB Diamond VLB ugpraded from the original 1 MB Trident), and has a 4 GB drive added last November, plus NICs that have been added.

      Currently on the third power supply fan. Other than that, it's run great for nearly 10 years.

  • Keyboard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Libor Vanek ( 248963 ) <> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:47PM (#7204270) Homepage
    Hey - I use 1991 keyboard with my dual Opteron database server :)
  • the x86 I wired-wrapped by hand for a senior project...ran at a whopping 2Mhz.

  • by kawabago ( 551139 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:47PM (#7204273)
    My boyfriend!
  • old hardware (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dewke ( 44893 )
    I still use a Tyan Tomcat IV with a p120 as a firewall/dns/mail server.

    The motherboard isn't 100% Y2K compliant but it runs like a champ.
    • P75 here (Score:3, Insightful)

      My firewall/dns/mail/local dev box is a p75, with 40 megs of ram and a whopping 1GB HD. It's one of the original IBM "Aptiva" models, and could barely run Win95 (it came with 3.11). Now it runs FreeBSD and couldn't be better suited to its purpose, though I have to admit I don't compile anything on it, everything - kernel included - gets compiled elsewhere and installed over NFS.

      FreeBSD isn't dying, but it does run on geriatric hardware!
  • IBM model M keyboard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asmithmd1 ( 239950 ) * on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:48PM (#7204284) Homepage Journal
    Vintage 1984 with a solid steel backplate the thing weighs almost 5lbs. The buckling spring keys give excellent tactile and audible feedback. I need to get a new PC but the keyboard is staying
    • Hey, I've got one of those, too! Still feels great to type on; hasn't lost a whit in all this time. What's it attached to? My low-traffic DNS server, a 486 VLB mobo with an 83MHz Pentium overdrive CPU. Storage? DTC-2278 VLB IDE running a WD Caviar 340MB. Network? WD8013 card, 10base-2 only. I have an old 10base-2 capable hub just to get the thing onto the switched 100Mb network. All of it still runs like a champ. Uptimes measured in months.

    • by GiMP ( 10923 )
      Ditto.. I love those things. The second oldest equipment which I actively use is the power cords from the IBM PS/2 computer, the ones with the piggy-back plugs.

      I have a lot of really old equipment, but I'm finding that I use it too little and am trying to toss what I can, but my Model:M will leave me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
    • by ( 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 [].

      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.
    • Until I picked up a Chicony KBP9805. (see also the KU9865)

      It's good an old school solid feel, but it only has a single aluminum plate inside, which makes it easy to carry around.

      Best part?
      Not only is it spill resistant, you can disassemble the plastic components (base, key tray) and put it in the dishwasher. The contact sheet is a clever enclosed rubber design, which is itself washable, and the controller a very simple PCB that snaps in and out of place.

      There are good keyboards out there that aren't 20 y
    • I wouldn't give up my model M for anything. However there is this one interesting issue...when you got one girlfriend on the phone, and the other online, the one on the phone gets pissed off saying that you're not paying attention to her because she can hear you typing in the background.

  • Is the oldest one i use on a regular basis..

    Its got a 20mb harddrive.. 2 network cards and a internal modem..

    Stuck on FreeSco and it works just fine as a router/emergency dial-backup machine for customers in trouble....
  • My oldest computer is an XT box, but that doesn't work anymore.

    My oldest working computer is a 1995 Acer Acros P75 with 48 megs of ram and a 1.2 gigabyte hard drive.

    The oldest piece of hardware in my gaming machine (this one) is my Sound Blaster Live Platinum (1999), but that will be replaced shortly.
  • My current computer has at least one part from all those that came before it (Which currently is two computers). It's got the floppy drive from a c.1995 IBM Aptiva and a DVD drive from a 2000 Aptiva. It's also got the hard drive from the same 2000 Aptiva. That hard drive was shit on by countless mice, and was taken outside in the rain, and yet still works. I had thought it was dead, so I kicked it around a bit, then I figured I'd see if I could recover anything off it, and lo and behold, it worked perfectly
  • 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.
  • is my Sound Blaster 16 ISA card that was from my 486 DX2/66 machine (DOOM was fast!!). It is currently in my little server/backup workstation Linux box (Red Hat Linux 7.1 with Kernel 2.4.20). It works. I will eventually have to dump that card when I upgrade that little box because newer motherboards don't support ISA cards anymore. I have had that card since December 1993. Great card unlike today's SB cards!

    I did have a 3.5" disk drive since then, but it died a few months ago. SB Live is the last thing ali
  • by TeddyR ( 4176 )
    We have a client that has remote site data collection units that are dialed into periodically to pick up reports. The modem on the units (which have been running flawlessly since '91) are old 1200 baud modems. Since its not broken, there was no need to replace the units...
    • Actually, I read somewhere that a lot of thoise Point-of-Sale ATM/credit card terminals use 2400 baud modems, even today. The reasoning behind this was that the handshaking time to establish a 2400 baud connection is pretty quick, compared to the amount of negotiation, ranging, noise characterization, echo cancellation, etc. that goes on with a modern v.90 connection. Anyone that was around as modems progressed from the early days to the modern standards knows the old joke about how f'cking long the hands
  • School ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) < minus distro> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:51PM (#7204327) Homepage Journal
    I'm taking COBOL which is on an IBM s390 running zOS and MVS. I know that the s390 is relatively new, but the damned thing is still relatively old and a pain to use :-) I've also got a 486 DX2 running at 66mhz running as a router here, it's not really doing much, besides routing all the houses packets, but it's around 11 - 12 years old. And every now and then I fire up the apple IIe for just plain old fun, I think that thing is getting in the ballpark of 18 - 19 years old. But as far as "running" or "using" you really can't get by running anything older than 5 years old for a workstation, I don't care how big of a mac fan you are :-)
  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:52PM (#7204331)
    A fellow tech had a service call at a client that had been around so long that their info wasn't even in our "new" dispatching system (dating back to the early 90's). They had a remote office that was having some problems communicating back with the main office mainframe complex. Said tech goes out to client site and finds out that the way they communicate back to the mainframe is a custom app running on an origional IBM PC XT and the reason it's not working is that the HDD has wonked out. Well he does the old rap the drive on the countertop trick to get it spun up and tells them that he will look for a replacement drive but he states very ademantly that he makes no promises. Well after having a good laugh with the parts dispatcher he finds the FRU number in an old manual and does a search, low and behold one of our third party parts distributer has 15 of them IN STOCK! He orders one and then finds an ancient copy of ghost that can deal with the old system. He attaches the new drive and copies the partition over, viola, a system that will probably run for another 15+ years.
  • Each system I've used, ever since my first, has used some components (to a greater or lesser degree) from the one before it.

    The only part original to the lot is my keyboard... it was original with a 386 (AMD brand, I believe) computer, with a whopping 8MB of RAM. The keyboard is mighty unusual, also -- it's the only one I've ever seen with diagonal arrow keys [barely functional], an on-keyboard "turbo" button for changing keyboard repeat rate.

    Other features include an asterisk between the right contr

  • My oldest hardware (Score:3, Informative)

    by MC68040 ( 462186 ) <henric AT digital-bless DOT 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.
  • I have a GRiDPad 1910. It's an XT-class machine, I forget if it's 10 or 20MHz, but it's somewhere in there. It has a 20MB IDE laptop hard drive and a backlit 640x400 CGA monochrome screen. If you put PalmCONNECT software which was sold for the Tandy/Casio/Grid Zoomer/ZPDA-7000/GridPad 2390, you can even get handwriting recognition... really really slow handwriting recognition. Of course, I just monkey around with it mostly, but I'm valiantly trying to get the data off my GRiDPad 2390 on to my 1910 so I can
  • Still works great and boots RT-11.

  • 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.
  • That has been setting under the counter since 1991. The only time it quit working was when the original hard drive died in 1995. It now has a WD 1.2G in it but can see only 512 MBs of it. It runs dos 5.0 and a Point of sale program for my store.
  • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@po[ ] ['lit' in gap]> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:54PM (#7204358) Homepage Journal
    Kaypro II!$!@! 4 MHz Z80A 400 KB floppy 300 baud modem 2serial ports... Okay maybe not

    Anyway the oldest machine I have working right now that I actually use is called an Adam and it was made by Coleco Vision. What is it used for you ask? An ashtray. An overgrown ashtray/beerstand nothing more. But I used it in elementary school so I won't part with it no matter how many burns it has... Besides one day it'll be a collectors item which I will sell for billions! NO! MILLIONS!

    Brings tears to my eyes coming here... []

  • I find that there are certain things that are reusable forever. My current floppy drive, one of my CD/DVD drives, and one of my hard drives have been through all three or four computers that I have built. As long as they keep putting IDE and the legacy floppy connector on motherboards they will keep being reused.

  • Until fairly recently, I was using an old K6-133 box as a router (in conjunction with Coyote Linux). It worked great, but was rather bulky.

    I have an AT keyboard (pre-PS/2 model, with an adaptor so it'll plug into a PS/2 connector) stuck behind the machines. Once in a while I'll need to pull it out when USB quits working for some reason.

  • vintage IBM keyboard...still cant beat the feel

    as for old apps...I work with a hospital still using a DOS scheduling app...When XP is finally forced on eveyone it was gonna die...instead they are looking at VMWare with DOS to continue using the damn thing.
  • by eric76 ( 679787 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:54PM (#7204370)
    I still use slide rules.

    I have two. The newest is from the late 60s. The oldest was given to me by my father. I think he got it when he was in college in the early 40s.

    In the early 90s, I returned to college for another degree. I routinely used the slide rules for homework. The graders couldn't figure out why I only gave 3 digits of accuracy and the third was sometimes wrong.

    On another occasion, I pulled it out to do a quick calculation during a test. The prof had never seen one and made a bee-line to my seat (on the aisle) and spent about 5 minutes looking it over.
  • I run some old stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 142825 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:55PM (#7204374) Homepage
    I still use:
    • Quicken version 7.
    • A northgate keyboard
    • A Maynstream 5000 tape drive from 1993.

    I recently retired my 486DX2 (later OV83) system with 64MB of ram, that I built in 1992.
  • Yep, one of those XT clones. I really don't use it, just turn it on from time to time to see Dos 3.23 and GWBasic and play jumpman...
  • I have an old 1922 Friden calculator, but I do not use it as frequently as my Friden 130 [] 1963 electronic calculator.
  • And they are STILL the best - real clicky keys. Uses a AT plug, which goes into a PS/2 adapter, soon to go into a USB adaptor.
  • While on the subject, is anybody still running old DOS programs in a DOS box on a Windows machine because your company is too poor/cheap to upgrade or doesn't want to bother with any free alternatives?

    Oh, I see you've been to my office, haven't you?

  • by Neurotensor ( 569035 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:56PM (#7204398)
    Regardless of how old you think your hardware is, you haven't seen old hardware until you visit an active physics research lab.

    The one I was working in recently is still using an Apple ][ to scan the dye laser that forms the frequency reference in the world's first and only solid-state quantum computer.

    It just goes to show you that the really clever guys simply won't upgrade until either something breaks or the old system won't do what's needed. Otherwise, keep the Apple.

    BTW the Apple is sitting near a superconducting magnet, and still works. Its first failure that I know of was a few weeks ago when the power supply died. It's now got an AT power supply hanging off it ;)
    • Nuke plants, too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScottBob ( 244972 )
      When I first submitted this story, I was tearing up my house looking for the driver CD for my old Sound Blaster Live card. For whatever reason, Creative didn't have Windows 98 drivers/software for the original version (the one I have, not the 5.1 version) available for download.

      Anyway, on the subject of companies still using legacy hardware, nuke plants have to be the king of dinosaur computer users. No new nuke plants have been ordered since the Three Mile Island accident in the late 70's, and all the har
  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity@sbc g l o b a l . n et> on Monday October 13, 2003 @09:56PM (#7204399) Homepage Journal
    Yup. $600 new. Now worth about $25. I still have a huge selection of custom sounds that I use when I write music to give it all that nice 80's feel.

    I also have a HP LaserJet IIIP from '91 that still works and is cheaper per page than all those crappy inkjet printers.
  • Our company is deploying three new Airborne shipping stations this week. Airborne / DHL is way behind when compared to the other carriers (FedEx and UPS). Their software, Libra [] is still a monochrome DOS based application. They have it running as a DOS window on Win2k so they can have ODBC connectivity.

    SCO Sucks T-shirt []. Shirts donate to the Open Source Now Fund.

  • The oldest machine I own that's actually in business use is my Sinclair QL from 1984, upon which my accounts are based (along with some of my writings, posted to the internet where appropriate via a serial link to my PC). Apart from that, I've got programs I wrote on my Amiga 600 (1992) which are still used as part of my degree (it's fractal aggregation code written in AMOS), and I still hack about on my Spectrum (1982, hence the name ZX82) and Dragon 32 (also 1982). I've also got some Sun Ultras (~1996)

  • Last week one of my senior managers asked me if it would be possible to recover word processing files off a 5.25" floppy disk formatted for Atari DOS. Believe it or not a coworker had an Atari in his garage with a floppy and modem. We had to scrounge up a bootable terminal program so that we could dial the modem.

    Remember ATS0=1 everybody?

    I had to scrounge up a modem to answer and that could talk at 300 baud. I tried 3 modems (USRobotics, Hayes, and Multitech). The Multitech is the only modem that would
  • by eap ( 91469 )
    I've got a teal colored SGI Indigo2 with Irix 6.5 that I use for an X terminal. The monitor is 20", so it does nicely. I also have an Amiga 2000 that I use quite often, and a 486 DX266 that functions as my NAT router and firewall.
  • I still have the thinnet I used for my household backbone in 1986 in daily use ....
  • My IBM PS/2 keyboard is the oldest piece of hardware I use - it's survived THREE computers for a total of eleven years now, and it's as good as ever.

    I also have a Pro-Audio Spectrum 16 soundcard stored away on its box, waiting for an oportunity to be used again (it was a great card back in 1993!). I'd actually give it away to whoever promised me would use it...
  • My oldest box is an ss5. Runs gentoo quite happily. I did a stage1, xfree and kde from source (only took about three months to compile in total). I use fluxbox on it for real work though...
  • Old DOS apps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Coldwar ( 78137 )
    Ugh...Paradox database. Lousy in-house apps coded around it, original developers dead/missing/downsized/laughing from afar...but us IT schmucks still get to support it.

    Well, OK, actually it runs just fine and rarely gives us trouble. Can't say the same for our MS-SQL servers...

  • Its my dedicated IRC shell machine, running Redhat 5.2

    I know it needs to be updated, but I don't care.
  • I'm sure most people have something much older, but... I use this every day for the past 2000 or so days.

    Pentium 90 on a PC Chips Socket 5 board.
    64M 60ns EDO RAM (four 16MB DIMMs)
    1.6GB Western Digital disk
    540MB Conner peripherals disk
    8x Acer CD-ROM
    two 10/100 Linksys LNE100 TX nics.
    Diamond Stealth video (S3 ViRGE chipset)

    Yes. That old. What does it do? Mostly serves as a firewall, though does a few other menial tasks. Used to host my website and vhost for friends. Used to give shell accounts so friend
  • I still have an old Compaq P75 running Windows NT4 as a BDC for a small office. It works. What more can I ask for?
  • it would have to be my pdp 11/23. I haven't actually used it recently, but it still worked after moving it last and I wouldn't doubt if I went into the garage and plugged it in that it would still work.
  • At my company we have a 386 running at 40mhz with 8 megs of RAM, running Procomm Plus which I use to interface with our PBX system. We also have a 486 Novell print server. They both work splendidly. Anything else would be overkill.
  • We run several web and mail servers on two old Sun SparcStation 20's and two Sun Ultra 1's that have been around since the early '90s. Lucky for us that Aurora Linux [] is around. Solaris 9 still runs on them, but not well. It's amazing what you can do with a couple of 50MHz processors in a $30 computer.


  • Cowboyneal is definately the oldest piece of hardware in my setup.
  • My dad has an IBM-AT Serial No 5 he got in 1982, running something like PC-DOS 3.2 and Quicken for DOS I think 5? It has a green monochrome monitor.

    (I'm confident about the serial # not about the year).

    The funny thing he is left it running during the Y2K rollover and had ZERO problems, with the PC, DOS, or Quicken. THAT's how far off base the millenium fears were.
  • HP-41C circa 1980, and HP 16C circa 1982. :)

    Still work perfectly. HP calculators rule.

  • Floppy and floppy cable from my 386 (dual 3.5 and 5.25 drive), and my Northgate Omni keyboard from the same 386 on my new (3 month old) system.

    I also use a Toshiba 486sx33 laptop with 12mb ram - it runs Slackware 8.1 fine for everything console.
  • Does Windows 98 count as a DOS program?
  • I just updated my server which was an AMD 133 with somewhere around 56Mb. This past weekend I did an updgrade to a 400Mhz box. The AMD133 ran RH 7.3 as a windows file share on a different port. I used it to get around the block port and it ran ok. Good enoungh for one user. I still have a few 266s laying around, but they arent currently running. O, my fastest box is a PII450.
  • by 13Echo ( 209846 )
    I've still got a P!!! 450 that I'm getting ready to turn into a BSD or Slackware server. I've also got a few old PI class CPUs, as well as an old Cyrix PR200+ (great CPU for its time), but I've got no working S7 mobo for it so it's down for now. In the server, I'll be installing a Voodoo 3 or an ancient ATI card. I've had an excellent DiamondMM Supra Express ISA modem from 1997 that was recently retired since I got a cable modem connection. After that, it went into my girlfriend's PC until we moved in t
  • My ultrasparc 10 (tatung clone, not SUN original) machine is probably my oldest piece of kit I still use, though some of my CD drives might be older (I never upgrade those things, because I can't really tell the difference between 24x and 48x). Anything much older than a couple of years generally gets passed on to someone in my family who just broke the last machine I gave them.
  • Up until a couple of weeks ago when it committed suicide. Read my journal for the ugly details.

  • I use a Harmon Kardon vacuum tube power amp from circa 1965 regularily (between tube/valve fires).

    40watts class B push-pull design. Transformer coupled output stage.

    I had a Citation II also but I had to leave it behind when I moved.
  • a 2002, a 1998, and 1994

    the 2002 is 1.5GHz

    the 1998 is 333MHz

    and the 1994 is a 100MHz, with 5.25" drive bay, in perfect working condition and upgraded from salavaged hulks of discarded motherboards found on the streets of manhattan to a whopping 32M of RAM!

    upgraded also to that awesome juggernaut of software engineering you of course know as "Windows 98"

    whenever i have the hankering to see a BSOD or play doom ii, i fire it up

    but it mostly exists as a connection point for some legacy hardware whose firm
  • Q&A 4.0 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Godeke ( 32895 ) * on Monday October 13, 2003 @10:26PM (#7204741)
    I still have one client with a company wide Q&A (Symantec) database that was started in 1983. Fortunately it was written well and has survived even on current XP boxes. I have offered to upgrade them to a Windows based application, but they don't like the costs that will be incurred. They are not the only ones []. I guess I should be happy they liked my system, but 20 years seems a bit long of tooth.

    And yes, I still do modifications on it from time to time.
  • Wang (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EricFenderson ( 64220 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @10:37PM (#7204844)

    anybody still running old DOS programs in a DOS box on a Windows machine

    Anyone else still run old DOS programs on actual DOS machines? They do the job, and we're a bunch of weirdos where I work! They make up all of our workstations, except a very small handful of Debian boxes. Most of the machines have now been upgraded to Pentuim 75s with 16M of RAM. Most were [34]86s until maybe six months ago.

    And We use a Wang to run our voicemail system - it runs some DOS voicemail system and has been plugging along longer and more reliably than most other machines I've ever worked with.

  • Why the assumption? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdreed1024 ( 443938 ) on Monday October 13, 2003 @10:43PM (#7204909)
    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?"

    Why the assumption that a company is too poor/cheap to upgrade or doesn't want to bother with free alternatives? Believe it or not, there is still some software for which free alternatives do not exist. And probably will never exist, because it is so specialized.

    At one bio lab where I worked, I had to support a bunch of DOS machines connected to lab equipment, because the controller programs only worked in DOS, due to the age of the equipment. Replacing the device would cost more than your average waterfront condo, so it's not exactly as if the company was being "cheap". Besides, the old device worked fine - if it ain't broke... etc.

    Another place I worked at used a proprietary database for storing patient records. The server was a 386SX/25 and was accessed from dumb terminals connected to a multiport serial board. Replacing/upgrading this woudl require spending a huge amount of money to obtain a new system, or a huge number of man-hours developing a new open-source system and getting it certified. (Such systems need to be certified what with privacy laws and the like.)

    So, there are plenty of reasons why a company might keep old hardware arround - almost anything which has custom boards or software written for it is likely to be running on older hardware, simply because there's no reason to upgrade.

  • by Mneme ( 56118 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @03:48AM (#7206542)
    In my office, across from my new 2GHz dual G5, I have a 1991 NeXT Workstation. Admittedly, I don't have it on all the time anymore, but I do turn it on once in a while to convert old WriteNow files and such. (Until July 2001 it was my main machine and in use daily -- I had to wait until OS X before there were machines up to the task of replacing it.)

    These days, one of my favorite uses of the machine is doing a side-by-side comparison with OS X. I compare the supplied Terminal, TextEdit and Mail applications on OS X and NeXTSTEP, showing that they're essentially the same programs, including details like the Font Panel and Color Picker. I then run OmniGraffle (2.0) on the Mac and on the NeXT -- again the two are essentially the same (OmniGraffle began as a Diagram clone and will read Diagram files). Finally, I run Abscissa (a graph-drawing program) on both and open the same file and show that it's exactly the same third-party app, just recompiled. Along the way I show things like live window dragging. It's pretty easy to see how OS X is in large part a continuation of NeXTSTEP.

    The NeXT is, of course, a little slower, but people tend to be surprised when I reveal that the NeXT has a 25MHz CPU, whereas the G5 has two 2000MHz CPUs (factor of 160 difference), the NeXT is maxed out at 32MB of RAM, whereas my G5 is only at 3/16ths capacity at 1536MB (48x more), and the NeXT has a 1GB internal drive whereas the G5 has a 160GB drive (another factor of 160). The NeXT is more than twelve years old and nevertheless holds its own pretty well -- it certainly doesn't seem like 1/160th of the machine my G5 is.

    Sadly, these days it takes a couple of tries before the internal 1GB hard drive spins up, and so I think one day it's going to go to that place in the sky that disk drives go to. That'll be a sad day, but not one I can't recover from -- at only 1GB, it's not like it takes much space to store a backup. :-)
  • 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 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> 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.
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Tuesday October 14, 2003 @06:53AM (#7207092) Journal
    I took a look at the recent vintage festival site and came across some images of the Amiga 3000UX, the one that came with a bona fide S5V4 Unix. I remember drooling about owning one of those back in 1991. Those things could have changed the market by themselves if Commodore and Sun and all the other proprietry UNix buggers hadn't been so immesurably greedy.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor