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What's the oldest computer you know of, or oldest one still in production?

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by Hater, Sep 28, 2018.

  1. Hater

    Hater Member

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    I've been reading up on old computers. Really old computers. 60's computers.

    What's the oldest machine you know of that's still working?

    I know of a 286 running a bespoke program used to fuel vehicles for a transport depot near here, but 286's don't seem old enough. Surely there must be some IBM mainframes still in use from the 70's or something?

    I wonder how long it would take to decode a YouTube video on an S/360, heh
     
  2. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    I don't know whether anything is still around now, but I used to be a "computer operator" back in the olden days. The disk was this huge thing you had to lift up onto the drive. Things have changed a LOT.
     
  3. Jumpingmanjim

    Jumpingmanjim Member

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    IBM is still making new mainframes, there's some shockingly old systems out there running on new mainframes.
     
  4. Catweazle

    Catweazle Member

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    Impressive. How olden?

    I can recall, back in the early '60s, a schoolteacher waddling into the room proudly lugging a massive armful of fanfold printout. He reckoned it represented a shitload of quids worth of computing time calculation Pi to some stupid amount of decimal places. Computers were an almost incomprehensible concept back then. Canberra had one, but I reckon that printout was coz it had nothing to do. We didn't send up rockets, after all. We let the Yanks and Brits explode their's here!


    On-topic, I'm pretty sure that the Apple Lisa at one of the local stores here is still in working order. And a couple of years back I finally junked a mid-80s XT-compatible rig which was still in working order. It ran 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego' just fine :)
     
  5. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Oldest production system was our 3Com NBX phone system, which ran VxWorks. It gave up the ghost a few times, which required some soldering iron action to fix, before we replaced it. I took a photo of the motherboard, which had a "1989-1999" sticker on it.

    We replaced it with FreePBX, which ironically was initially rejected by other members of the team because it was "just a computer, and not a real phone system". I tried to explain what VxWorks was, and demonstrated the IDE hard disk and boot process internally over an RS232 serial out. But no, that was too hard to comprehend. So eventually the big boss told them to get over it, and it was put in anyway.

    vxworksnbx.jpg

    Oldest production non-computer hardware is a whopping big, high-speed film scanner we have. The thing cost squillions back in the day, and by all accounts it's the only one left in the southern hemisphere.

    Oldest non-produciton, non-computer hardware is this Astor Royal 25" TB037 TV, manufactured 1968. Vacuum tubes and everything. I'm driving it via an RPi hooked up to an RF modulator that I had to buy especially, as it only does VHF (not UHF, like most VCRs and cheap modulators spit out).

    astor.jpg

    What do you mean "back then"? Most people have NFI about them today. Ask your average politician, voter, school teacher, etc.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
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  6. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    Not really, I just lugged those disk packs around and put tapes on the tape thingie and stuff like that, I didn't know what anything was for :D
     
  7. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    When I worked for VAG group we used to use terminal software to log into a mainframe to do warranty claims, it was that typical terminal based environment. This was in 2006. I assumed the mainframe was in VAG Germany.
     
  8. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Wait wait wait... did it interface with WANG computers?

    Sorry.
     
  9. Jumpingmanjim

    Jumpingmanjim Member

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    Could you have run Doom on it?
     
  10. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    You're a rude boy. :D
     
  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    It doesn't even have a framebuffer. If you wanted to run games on it, or would need to be simple text games over RS232 serial console or via the internal web server.
     
  12. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    I worked for Queensland Health about 15 years ago, they were running McDonnell-Douglas P12 serial terminals from the 80's. They were 12? inch green monochrome CRT's. we used 'Spider Ports' which were basically serial multiplexers, which ran a Telnet session back to the server. I don't know what the server hardware was, I presume it was reasonably modern. The software was ancient (ran on a database called Reality-X, a variant of PICK). We could run this system on Windows easily (it was just telnet), it was just cheaper to keep using these old dinosaurs if a full PC wasn't warranted.

    Kind of related, I used to work for a finance company that ran their own computer system in the 80's. We were cleaning out some storage and found these two massive things that took three phase power. They were about 2 metres long and half a metre high. I saw a bit of paper wedged in there, pulled it out and read a list of bad sectors - they were hard disk drives, around 100 MB IIRC. Took two of us to lift them. I believe they came from a Motorola system of some sort. They ended up going to scrap metal.
     
  13. Catweazle

    Catweazle Member

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    heh heh....

    One of my early employments was a stint as bank teller. At the end of the day the till was balanced by entering the day's transactions on a hi-tech 'accounting machine'. It was basically a glorified mechanical adding machine which did a cut-down version of double-entry.
     
  14. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    You're a dirty boy Elvis! ;)
     
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  15. mr camouflage

    mr camouflage Member

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  16. shane41

    shane41 Member

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    dice que no sabe
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
  17. broccoli

    broccoli Member

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    This is my laptop. 4MB memory. woohoo. (I did something that made it 8, some jiggerypokery, I think I bought a card and put it in the bottom. something like that. )
    http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Category:700
     
  18. JidaiGeki

    JidaiGeki Member

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    I guess George RR Martin's computer would be pretty old, seeing as it runs DOS and Wordstar 4. Don't know what hardware though, guessing 286 or 386 as the software was released in '87.
     
  19. Catweazle

    Catweazle Member

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    DOS programs run fine under 32-bit Windows. First time you try run one on Win10 32-bit you'll be notified to install NTVDM. After that they'll just fire up. 64-bit Windows you use a DOS virtual machine to run DOS programs in.
     
  20. JidaiGeki

    JidaiGeki Member

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    Yeah that's fine for you or I, but GRRM actually uses an old school machine to write his novels which is likely to run DOS on 'bare metal' - he is particular about not having a contemporary machine. Virtualisation for someone like him would be an annoyance no doubt.
     

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