back to article Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

When Simon Sharwood revealed that an Aussie operator has just retired a server that been running flawlesssly since 1997, we figured it would prompt a slew of one-upmanship comments, and we were right. What we weren’t quite prepared for were the diversions that one aging server prompted into the nature of time, space travel, …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Nuclear Power Station...

    Surely a RasPi could be put together to emulate the outputs and respond to the inputs?

    Could even operate a nice displayboard of the "heavy metal power building"

    1. Andy Taylor

      Re: Nuclear Power Station...

      Our TAC project lead is already working on something along these lines.

      I did get the dates slightly wrong, the TACs were in continuous operation from 1968 to 2004, I still think that wins :)

      1. Bob H

        Re: Nuclear Power Station...

        A foreign sounding voice at the end of the line, "we would like to come and study your computer-ma-bob"

  2. Duffaboy

    osborne 1

    I own one of these though have to admit I have not fired it up in 20years for fear that it will expire. I have the service manual for it too somewhere and still shrinkwrapped Deadline game.

    It used to run the familys business accounts way way back. I was going to donate it to Bletchley park only to find that they already own one.

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      Re: osborne 1

      I bought one of those on eBay. After a while some caps in the power supply exploded (smoke and everything, it stank). I replaced those though. Have been thinking about various projects to get it to use a more modern keyboard (the original is rusted to hell inside) and alternative data storage, but nothing finished because I'm lazy.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: osborne 1

      Running a small-scale museum, we have stuff that's older than a fair part of our visitors, and some of it* is even older than our participants. Unfortunately, one of the Osborne I machines had one of its floppy drives emitting magic smoke, and they need both. Until then it appeared OK, but we were lacking system and program floppies. The other is rather wonky in general.

      The BBC B needed a new filter cap in its PSU, but it didn't mind it blowing. The mains fuse did, but other than that, no damage.

      * Friden electromechanical typewriters driven by paper-tape. One of them should even be capable of doing mailmerge once we can find the correct cables to connect the auxiliary reader. But on its own it works fine.

  3. David Dingwall

    Launch Alliance

    Someone in El Reg USA needs to have a chat with Boeing et al at the "Launch Alliance", they have a HUGE inventory of ancient kit they need to keep running, it all cannot be done with hardware emulators.

  4. rh587 Silver badge

    "Yes, Pembrokeshire's Crytal Maze was a real thing apparently."

    Yes it was, and I was taken there on a rainy day one August when it first opened! 12 year old me thought it was bloody brilliant.

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "The WANG that would not die"

    Now that is a film I would pay money to see. Even just to brag about the title!

    Could this be Paris' first zombie flick?

    1. MrT

      Re: "The WANG that would not die"

      Shame Wang's logo wasn't a blue diamond with the "infinity" symbol in it...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The WANG that would not die"

        Wang computers go back to the days of Adam and Eve.

        Eve had an Apple.

        Adam had a Wang.

    2. GrumpyKiwi
      Paris Hilton

      Re: "The WANG that would not die"

      It's still sitting in the old server room as the prospect of a hernia trying to get it into a skip didn't appeal.

      I found some old documents for it the other day relating to the NZ$30,000 spent upgrading the amount of RAM to 32MB.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        @GrumpyKiwi, re: Your Wang that won't die...

        You can't lift your own Wang claiming it'll give you a hernia?

        And it's been up for HOW many years?

        You Sir, have an ego the size of a planet...


        I don't know to be impressed as hell or run screaming in fear!


  6. Linker3000

    Acorn System 1

    Just have to mention my Acorn System 1 from 1979; this was Acorn's first commercial computer. I received it about a year ago from someone who had it 'in a box under my desk somewhere'. The unit needed some TLC, but after a few PCB track repairs, a couple of replacement logic chips and some rework on the LED display ribbon cable it's up and working again - although I have to admit that I don't run it 24/7 and the display is not up to email or surfing the 'net.

    You can see a pic of the unit here:

    It's sitting on a pile of parts I have ordered so I can make a replica (when I get round to it!)

    More info here:

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Acorn System 1

      Between 1978 and 1980 I worked for the PCB manufacturing company that supplied the prototype boards for this, though we never got the contract for the production run. I did keep one of the bare 8K memory extension boards with the intention of expanding my CBM PET - a project that never actually happened.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Acorn System 1

      A few (Acorn) Atoms were still in regular use in the University of Kent physics lab as late as 1991 - any more recent alumni know whether they went on any longer than that? They also had a PET 2001 and a PDP-8 in storage, but they were too big to carry away.

      Personally, my oldest PC is a colour Amstrad CPC 6128 from 1986. It hasn't been switched on since about 1993 but I suspect it still works, though it might need a new drive belt.

  7. knarf

    Very Old DEC Alpha

    I worked for an insurance company who had an old big Blue DEC Alpha box, it was so old it didn't even have a compaq badge on it. It running an ancient insurance system that was running for at least 20 years and it survived 4 buyouts and 4 office moves. It was always going to get replaced but never did. It came to the top of the "Risk Register" and something had to be done, but it still had live policies on it and couldn't be scrapped.

    So a backup box was sourced in case the original box died and we could switch. The "new box" turned up and it was dead. I being the oldest was asked to look at it, I calmly walked up and kicked it where it promptly sprang into life and booted with a look of wonder and horror from the support guys (I was a dev). Cue power down, strip and check all the connectors,

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Very Old DEC Alpha

      I worked for an insurance company who had an old big Blue DEC Alpha box, it was so old it didn't even have a compaq badge on it.

      That's just plain 'old'. Now, a VAX with white on blue lettering would qualify as 'rather old', and a PDP with white on black would be one for the moniker 'very old'.

      We've hauled MicroVAXes out of a cellar and adjacent crawlspace where they had been stored for the past ten years or so, after at least ten years of running production. Plugging in and switching on, most ended up either booting VMS or some flavour of Unix, or at least got as far as the bootprompt.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Very Old DEC Alpha

        That's just plain 'old'. Now, a VAX with white on blue lettering would qualify as 'rather old', and a PDP with white on black would be one for the moniker 'very old'.

        Quite. Hence I didn't even mention my Alphas (AXP), DECstations (MIPS) or VAXstations (KA) (in the original thread.

        Why, yes of course they still run fine Ultrix, OSF/1 and VMS depending on the box.

  8. Efros

    I wonder

    how much of the current tech will get anywhere near the longevity of these fully functioning pensioners.

    1. AegisPrime

      Re: I wonder

      I have a SuperMicro X5DAL-TG2 motherboard with dual 3Ghz P4 Xeons that's been in daily use for 13 years now - it's been re-housed in a number of different cases and has had the fans replaced several times but other than that it's still the same machine (including PSU/GPU/RAM/HD) as when I built it.

      It used to be a 3D workstation but now it's a general-purpose office machine running in a friend's business - I'm pretty sure it'll outlive me!

      My current PC's doing pretty well too - it's an Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard with a Nehalem i7 I built 6 years ago - the only part I've changed on it is the GPU (got a better one and still have the old one) - it's actually housed in the Cooler Master Black Widow case I originally bought for the SuperMicro and uses the Western Digital Raptors I bought back in 2003 for the SuperMicro too :)

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        I have a SuperMicro X5DAL-TG2 motherboard with dual 3Ghz P4 Xeons that's been in daily use for 13 years now - it's been re-housed in a number of different cases and has had the fans replaced several times but other than that it's still the same machine (including PSU/GPU/RAM/HD) as when I built it.

        Sounds bit like one old box I have that is based on Abit BP-6 with 2xCeleron (Mendocino) that is still running (been running 24x7). One of the CPU fans is practically dead and for the last few years it hasn't run much at all but CPU is still hanging in there. It has has couple of case (and one PSU) transplants and few new disks added (still original boot HDD (ST38420A)).

    2. Chris King

      Re: I wonder

      Who are you calling a pensioner ? I just get to deal with all the old stuff no-one else will touch.

      I have said that I should get some new business cards made up - should I be "Systems Executioner" or "The Decommissioner" ?

      1. Efros

        Re: I wonder

        I was referring to the hardware not the operators, god knows I'm probably older!

      2. ExchangeMonkeyboy
        Thumb Up

        Re: I wonder

        "The Decommissioner" - love it!

      3. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        Who are you calling a pensioner ? I just get to deal with all the old stuff no-one else will touch.

        If its proper old stuff, then I'd say its a blessing. The old stuff (not PCs, but minis and larger) had soul.

      4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: I wonder

        @Chris King: why not something along the lines of "The Chip Whisperer"?

    3. fishman

      Re: I wonder

      My guess is that current tech won't last as long due to the lead free solder that is used now.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        Also the smaller process transistors will die faster. Less dopant migration needed before it turns into an amorphous blob.

        Ignoring outside events like cosmic rays and frustrated users.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: I wonder / outside events

          I wonder, what kind of radiation is emitted by a frusteated user?

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: I wonder / outside events

            "what kind of radiation is emitted by a frustrated user?"

            Users emit "bogons", which cause computers to fail, different people emit different different amounts. You may well have met a user who emits a high level of bogons, causing technology near to them to fail inexplicably.

            Sysadmins absorb bogons, help the machines to work again. The absorbed bogons are re-emitted at a lower energy level as snark.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        My guess is that current tech won't last as long due to the lead free solder that is used now.

        Worst invention ever. You might well be right.

        Although if the designs start to take that into account when designing the thermal envelopes there might be a small chance.

    4. elDog

      Re: I wonder

      Another apt question - how many of these ElReg commenting retards will still be computing as long as these crufty hardware bits?

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        >Another apt question - how many of these ElReg commenting retards will still be computing as long as these crufty hardware bits?

        Someone is sure to crowd-fund a gesture-controlled zimmer-frame. Just need a pair of bicycle-clips to help control the output.

  9. sisk

    Not too terribly long ago I stumbled across an old 8086 luggable computer (I refuse to call anything with a CRT monitor portable, even if it does fold up into a package small enough to carry) in my dad's garage. Predictably the battery was long dead, but surprisingly once plugged in to the mains it booted from the 5 1/4in floppy that had been left in the drive. It also lacked any internal hard drive, but the boot disk had a copy of Space Wars on it so I spent about 15 minutes reliving my childhood. Sadly my wife would probably use the thing to whack me over the head if I tried to bring it home and I'd be unlikely to survive getting hit with something so heavy, so it went back into the storage loft dad built in his garage and will likely remain there till the day both my parents are in the ground.

  10. Chris Gray 1

    Amiga 1000

    Surely someone still has an Amiga 1000 that works? Mine, from 1985, worked as of 3 or 4 years ago when all of my old Amiga stuff went into a friend's storage. We probably *could* extract it and try it out, but...

    When I tried it just before we packed it off, the internal floppy was OK, but the external one just made noises. The old NTSC display looked wonky on my LCD TV, but it was there, and the Kickstart and Extras floppies fired up.

    Needless to say, the machine didn't run anywhere near continuously since I got it.

    1. jgarry

      Re: Amiga 1000

      I have an Amiga 1000 that works. I have two pdp-11's, one of which may work if I turn it on (11/23 modded into a 23+ back in the '80s, RSTS/E - one of these days it will be Ready...) and the other would need some fiddling (11/73 rescued on way to dumpster), with CIT-100's and LA-120.

  11. HmmmYes

    Agree with Model M keyboards.

    I've just flipped mine over to check the date - the pen (yes, made in the UK, QA checked by hand, QA recorded in pen) has rubbed off. From memory I think the date was 1990.

    QNX 4 is worth an honorable mention.

    I did some some work for an org (who I cannot mention) for purposes (that I cannot talk about) to sit a various rooms. 486, 2G M flash system, ISA bus cards. 1998-ish.

    Was still running last time I asked a person who I cannot name,

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Agree with Model M keyboards.

      I've been running my Model M system for a comparable length of time. I've changed a few components here and there (like CPU, RAM, disks and external case and screen) but otherwise it's still the same system.

      (and of course, I'm using it to write this)

  12. Jeffrey Nonken

    I might be able to help Alan Sharkey with his floppy problem, but I'll have to check. It's possible I gave all my 5 1/4s away with my TRS-80 model I a decade ago. Could be all I have left are 8" floppies for my IMSAI 8080.

    ...Which isn't currently working so I only get limited bragging rights, or I might have mentioned it previously.

  13. Dr. Ellen

    Why, when I was young ...

    I had a blind friend who was using an IBM XT286 to write -- stories, letters, keeping lists. He had it set up with a speaking word processor. He'd learned it, he'd liked it, and he never had much luck with updates. So I maintained that puppy for him until he died in 2012. I think he got it in 1987, so that would be 25 years. Had to replace the clock battery once, and get him a few new printers -- and put in a 3.5" drive so I could get data in and out. (Not that big a job with a 5 meg HD and a 1.44 meg FD.)

    If something does a satisfactory job, keep it going.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Why, when I was young ...

      Wow, that caused a nostalgia moment.

      First actual, honest-to-god "PC" I ever got given as "mine" to work on was an XT 286.

      Provided to me with a shitload of figures, a copy of Freelance, a pen plotter and instructions to put something on foils that the Chairman could use to impress his peers. Colour monitor too, no expense spared when He says "Do it".

      First thing I did on being given this unexpected and extraordinarily expensive[1] present was to wheedle a 5250 card for it so it could replace my terminal and (as a side effect and more importantly) also ensure that no other bugger could take it away......

      [1] As in more than twice the cost of my car at the time.

  14. Dazed and Confused

    I've got

    An HP85 from 1980 which still works fine. I'm told the printers and tape drive can give problems but the rest of it is likely to still be working when the Sun goes nova on us.

    I've also got the Casio 502P I bought in 1978 to do my A-Levels, does that count?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: I've got

      An HP85 from 1980 which still works fine. I'm told the printers and tape drive can give problems

      They do. The tape drive wheel rubber gets sticky; happens to TU58 tape drives as well.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. MyffyW Silver badge

    30+ years with my clock radio

    I have a Saisho clock radio in what was generic "Old English White" (now a more yellowy shade). Got it for my birthday in 1984, been running pretty much constantly since then.

    It's still running and waking me up every morning.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: 30+ years with my clock radio

      Ditto, with a cube shaped Sony clock radio from 1984. One knob has been held together by tape for the last decade, apart from that it works fine. I just hope they don't scrap FM for DAB.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: 30+ years with my clock radio

      Clock radios NEVER die, and that's a fact.

      1. PhilBuk

        Re: 30+ years with my clock radio

        Got my LED clock radio for a birthday present when I was 16 - I'm 61 now so 45 years of constant use. Had to clean the contacts on the buttons once but it still soldiers on.

        Praise the lord for lead solder!!


  17. John Klos

    Quality of older hardware

    The quality of Digital hardware is best. I have several VAXstations running 24/7 which have had no problems aside from the occasional dead battery backed clock.

    Sun hardware, though, has been disappointing. Older SPARCstations have died over time, an Ultra 5 had to give its life to make parts for an Ultra 10... The hardware was good, but not great.

    SGI falls in the same category. The old Indy systems look nice, but they've become flakier and flakier and probably need to have their capacitors replaced.

    Old m68k Macs are good, but definitely need recapping. Second generation (PCI) PowerPC Macs are excellent - I have one that has been running non-stop as a full time server for more than a decade.

    Amigas are also pretty hardy, also needing little more than replacement capacitors or a better power supply. My personal Amiga 1200 which is running as a server ( celebrated its 20th birthday last year :)

  18. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Long lasting DEC kit

    I've got a piece of DEC kit that's still working after 27+ years - a cotton shopping bag. I was given it at OOPSLA 1988 in San Diego containing documents on the then newly defined Modula 3 language. I used it while shopping this morning. The DEC logo and slogans on it usually get a blank look, although the occasional greybeard will ask where I got it from.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Long lasting DEC kit

      Talking of giveaways, my favourite was an umbrella being given out at a launch I attended of some version of Turbo Pascal at Thorpe Park. Rugged design, impervious to leaks, and the umbrella couldn't be faulted either. No it didn't break, it got stolen, must say that I can't really blame the thief.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long lasting DEC kit

        My favourite was a rather beautiful, large black NSA mug acquired on a trip to the US. Three years later, and based in the National Policing Improvement Agency someone nicked it. Never trust a policeman....

    2. Roo

      Re: Long lasting DEC kit

      Awesome bag, I am horribly jealous, I bet a four pack of Strongbow would look smashing in it. :)

      I have fond memories of DEC gear, but the build quality did vary quite dramatically across their range (eg: those flakey hard drives they turned out). DEC offloaded their hard drive business shortly after turning out a particularly flakey model. I remember my surprise at opening the door of a -11/780 vintage cabinet and it feeling very solid, the newer -11/785 doors I was used to felt like wobbly cardboard. It looked like the bean counters were running the show when that '785 rolled (thudded ?) off the line. :)

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Long lasting DEC kit

        I remember my surprise at opening the door of a -11/780 vintage cabinet and it feeling very solid, the newer -11/785 doors I was used to felt like wobbly cardboard

        Don't you mean the 11/750? I've never noticed any difference between the 780 and 785 in that respect, and I doubt all the 785's I've encountered started out as 780's.

        750 doors, and similarly 82xx/83xx doors are rather bendy indeed.

  19. adnim

    I really must boot up

    my Epson PCe.

    As the original article was about long running hardware I had no cause for comment. It has been idle/stored and not booted in over 20 years. I learned K&R 'C' on this. I must get around to powering it up... maybe on a concrete floor in my garage from a safe distance. I still have the same green screen Phillips monitor it came with.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a retina iMac

    I have a retina iMac, Apple have brought a new version out and I still have the old version!

    It may be as much as a year old. I can't wait to report back when it is two.

  21. Christian Berger

    I've been to a company having a R&S Spectrum analyser

    Those are still being sold used and 20+ years old for around 5kEuro. I don't know what's the main CPU, but it certainly has some Transputers in it. :)

  22. Christian Berger

    Looking back those machines weren't that slow

    Sure at our school we had a Xenix system with around 30 terminals on a 386 which did get slow when 30 pupils were hacking away in Works for Xenix, but then again many modern applications are just as slow on modern hardware. I have seen KMail not keeping up with my typing speed. I have seen computers taking minutes to load the work processing application.

    Maybe the reason for this is just bloat as suggested by this talk here:

  23. Conrad Longmore
    Thumb Up


    We recently powered off an AT&T PABX that had been in service since about 1994. OK, it had been switched off and on a few times because occasionally you DO have to power down the server room. I betcha there are some ancient PABXes out there..

  24. MrT


    ... I still have an unbuilt kit up in the attic, next to a BBC Master 128 and Sinclair QL, plus a couple of Psion 5's (UK original and US 5mx). The only home computer I sold on was my Spectrum, to fund the QL. Rooting about up there a few weeks ago turned up a pristine box of 5.25" disks, still shrink-wrapped (BT-branded, 90's piper logo). Aquisitional as ever - I can feel the need for a proper shed, with tool boards on the walls, power, heat, and somewhere for the home brew looming large some time soon...

  25. Farmer Fred


    I knew of an early eurobeeb (circa '83) still running daily up until late '13 on a pick and place machine - it had to go as there wasn't an easy way to transfer new placement files and hand entering all the data was too cumbersome! Sadly I was half an hour short on saving it from being hammered into pieces.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Eurobeeb

      "it had to go as there wasn't an easy way to transfer new placement files and hand entering all the data was too cumbersome! "

      Serial comms?

      IIRC, my first ever act of software piracy (apart from tape to tape copying) was copying CP/M Wordstar from an LSI Octopus to a TRS-80 IV by writing a BASIC program to read the binary file and output it as HEX ASCII and "printing" it to a serial port. On the other end of the wire I think I used PIP and redirection to get file in from the serial port to a file where another BASIC program converted the HEX ASCII back to a binary file.

      1. Shovel

        Re: Eurobeeb

        I did something similar for my mother when she needed some addresses transferred from her trash 80 over to a 'modern' Windows 95 computer. it was so long ago that I don't remember the exact procedure. I can tell you that there was a host Drive involved and that I had to get an old copy of Lotus Notes which was able to convert ASCII characters to Binary data so that she could have her address on the new machine.

  26. Triggerfish


    OK not as long as some of these, but in my first job as helldesk make work we had to call round all of the stores we covered, make sure they were happy etc, check the servers. These were not high quality servers more like a bit better than PC's running SCO, the tills ran DOS. One store though had a server uptime of 9yrs, and the manager of a few years didn't even know they had technical support they had never had to make a call.

    Also the comments about Sun kit, a friend worked as one of their repair techs I remember the toolkit he was provided, torque limited tools real precision stuff, those servers must have been built to some tolerances.

  27. Fibbles

    How very meta

    We now have a comment section for an article which is basically just highlights from a previous comments section.

    Whilst I enjoy the anecdotes of my fellow commentards I feel the staff at El Reg are really scraping the bottom of the barrel for content here. Perhaps stop writing endless articles about DevOps* which nobody seems interested in and go back to how things were before the editorial Armageddon of '15.

    * Whatever the fuck that is.

    1. elDog

      Re: How very meta

      I'm guessing you don't want any comments to your comment.

      Too bad. Sorry, and all that rot.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: How very meta

      Especially as DevOps is so last year. 2016 is the year of Brisk OpDev (TM).

  28. Crazy Operations Guy

    My father was an IBM reseller

    When I was born, he powered up a fresh out-of-the-box PC/AT (The model was discontinued a month beforehand, so he got it cheap as chips). I was born at home, so leaving the thing on for my childhood was no problem. The problem was keeping the thing going when I moved out, my new place was only an hour and a half away. So we took an array of lantern batteries to generate 24 volts and enough watt-hours to last the trip and then some. Wire it up with a couple 7805/ 7812 power regulators and we were good to go. Next step was to pop the case open and and strip the power supply cables to get enough bare wire to plug in some alligator clamps. Once we got that far, I unplugged the box from the wall and the batteries, thankfully, keep the machine running without the machine resetting.

    So for two hours I had this big mess of a computer on my lap for the drive to my new place while the thing still chugged away. Had just enough juice to get it onto my desk and plugged into a UPS before the batteries wilted too much.

    The machine is still running 4.2BSD with a 64-bit time_t to avoid the 2038 problem. Since the model was being discontinued, it came with the full 16 MB of RAM, proc set at 8 Mhz and a pair of 20-MB disks. It also came with a debugging card that allowed halting the processor and peripherals which allowed for twiddling bits while the CPU just halted and wouldn't realize what had happened when the clock was resumed.

  29. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Bah! Newfangled WhipperSnappers!

    You want longevity? You want build quality? You want uptime measured in Millenia? I've got your computational device right here! That's right, I'm talkin' about Stonehenge, Baby! Beat That! HA!

    Just don't ask me to reboot that BadBoy, it takes forever to realign those suckers.

    *Shakes a palsied fist*

    Now get off my loam!


    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Bah! Newfangled WhipperSnappers!

      You might have a Y3k problem when Gamma Cephei takes over from Polaris though.

      1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

        Re: Bah! Newfangled WhipperSnappers!

        Nah, I planned ahead & ordered the Y3K upgrade from the manufacturer.

        *Reads the contract to point out the relevant bits*

        Wait... what the hell? Why is this bit in even smaller print than the rest?

        *Scrubs away the grime & squints at the tiny print*

        MotherFUCK! Those bastards wrote the year "3000^" with the ^ resolving to the addendum "written in Hexidecimal"! Damn it! Damn Damn Damn!

        *Wanders off to go try & calculate the realignment positions*


  30. ocratato

    Is 1973 old enough?

    I have the chips (note plural) for a 1973 vintage Fairchild Semiconductor microprocessor.

    It was a single bit bus, and unfortunately for them was overtaken by Intel's 4004 with its 4 bit bus before it got past the prototype sample stage.

    Unfortunately they are little more than pretty gold and ceramic objects as there is nothing even vaguely like a data sheet for them.

  31. ongmstr

    How about the Apple ][+ ?

    I have still my first micro in storage. An Apple ][+ compatible. All of 48K RAM upgraded with a 16K language card and CPM card. Must dig it out and try to boot it.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think I might win......

    In late 1977 I started working for a retailer in Tottenham Court Road called Euro Calc.

    Over the course of the next few years I came across a whole range of kit which many people today would never have even heard of....

    The Tandy TSR-80

    The Original Calculator Keyboard Commodore Pet

    The Apple ][ and of course it's spin off ITT 2020 (I actually touched an Apple I once)

    The Compucolor.....who's "Special Superpower" was that if anything shorted it was wired to earth through the main PCB...Ohhhh the fun we had with that...

    The Dragon

    The Lynx

    Assorted MSX machines....

    and so on and so on......

    And people say old timers don't have relevance!!!

  33. rastuss

    First "Cyberdyne" 8080's making 8080's

    In a system support area, KDF has the first Intel 8080 computer test stand for the MRC 900 series sputter systems, still mounted on its original circa '78' plywood. The MRC 900 was the first fully computer controlled vacuum sputter PVD system used to make itself. A computer completely controlling the making of copies of itself... Can you say 'Cyberdyne Systems' ?

    This test stand does belong in the Smithsonian, but we are still using it. Some of those MRC systems are still in production. KDF maintains complete original fully working MRC 643 & 943 systems for customer support as well... alive on the production floor.

    If any MRC Alumni are in the area the invitation is open to please stop and visit. You can also see today's new systems as well as time travel back and see the test stand, admission is free.

    MRC system technology still lives on today at

  34. at31ashbourne

    First Computer

    Still got my first computer - an OSI Superboard II, purchased around 1981.

    Along with user manuals and receipt!

    1MHz 6502 processor with 4K of ram.

    Fired it up just before Christmas without any problems.

    The video output struggled to sync with the 55 inch Samsung TV, so I also had to get an old TV down from the loft.

  35. systema.television

    Do terminals count? Adm3a from 1976

    I regularly used my Rasberry Pi last year with an Adm3a terminal from 1976, 144 LSI silicon chips, one of the last terminals AFAIK to use descrete logic rather than a CPU. Kit verson (hand assembled) still working, except for lack of lower case ROM and RAM (optional extra at the time), which needed an EPROM daughter board to be made.

    I only disconnected it to make room to restore a 1938 pre-war television, as my next project. See

    1. BitDr

      Re: Do terminals count? Adm3a from 1976

      Ah, the ADM 3A, those were the new kids on the block in 75/76 when I started out. Their keyboards were pretty fussy, key bounce being an ongoing problem. We used them to connect to an H/P 2000 Access and H/P 3000 over acoustic modems. Wonderful fun.


    TAC and more

    The TNMoC TAC is shared with the Computer Sheds, half at each. The TMNoC half is now running (hooray). If you want to see pictures of the TAC and a sample of over 1000 machines at the Computer Sheds go to have fun.

  37. Tim99 Silver badge


    My Otis King I bought in 1969 has a discoloured scale but still works.

  38. ricardian

    Here's an article from 2014 about the USAF still using 8 inch floppies in a nuclear weapon control system. Yes, in 2014!

  39. AC Wilson

    Old stuff from an old guy..

    If any of you are keeping you old stuff and need to install a new (old) MFM or RLL hard drive, remember this (?) Boot from your DOS system floppy, type debug<Enter>


    then select or enter the proper specs. Yea, I been around these things a long time. Fun to read these stories.Thanks...

    1. ricardian

      Re: Old stuff from an old guy..

      (Seen on another computer email list)

      The custom computer controlling the FPQ-16 (PARCS) system in ND is still fully operational 24/7/365 dating from 1972. Up until a couple years ago, the MGS (Missile Guidance Set) computer in the Minuteman III (LGM-30G) dated to 1967 - the fleet was updated with a new MGS in the last several years.

      The WSC (Weapon System Controller) in the Launch Control Centers (WS-133AM) still dates to the ILCS update of the early 1970's even though it is now overlaid by the REACT console system. Moving to 'general&#39; computing, there are still many IBM 360/370 and earlier 1045 vintage frames in 3rd world and former 'block&#39; countries in operation. And what of the PDP-11's that are still quietly and reliably running GE nuclear power plants all over the world. a 6/19/2013 article in "The Register" quotes GE as expecting the PDP-11 (1967-onward) to soldier on until about 2050, and there are still job openings looking for folks willing to program them.

      The references to any sort of PC laughably misses several generations of computers that came before and of which many are still operating. The 'PC' is rather a latecomer to the game. Look to the 1960's for oldest still in regular operation. I'm relatively certain all the tube based SAGE generation stuff is finally gone.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel like a child...

    Well, I was a teen when I earned my first Pentium II 400MHz... that came with Windows 95 and... was it 8MB of RAM?

    It survived through Windows 95, 98, and ended its life as a Windows XP machine with 384MB of RAM scavenged from other PCs that had given up. From 95 launch date, to XP launch date, at least.

    Except for the install of each OS, this machine was never formatted, and always each OS was installed on top of the previous one, if formatting was not necessary, or no hard drive upgrade was performed.

    It failed just once due overheating... because the thermal paste had *evaporated*. There wasn't even dust over the P2 cartridge. It didn't actually fail, just got really slow (with the PROCHOT screaming away). Added new thermal paste, and it worked again for eons.

    The power supply also had acquired a funny smell over the years, fixed with a large 12cm ball bearing fan installed inside - it had a sleeve-bearing 8cm fan that locked due to wear. It said "non-serviceable parts inside"... but utter bullshit, it was easy to replace the fan inside the PSU.

    Eventually donated to a Children's Cancer Hospital, still working perfectly.

  41. Christopher E. Stith

    Makes me want to go home after work and play with my 5150, or maybe my Atari 800 XL. Or the CoCo MC-10. Or the Apple IIc. Or the C= C64c. ...

  42. Shovel

    All 3 of my Amiga 1200 still work perfectly. I dust off some games from time to time. I have a CD 32 which still works although one channel of audio intermittently drops out.

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