back to article Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Last week we brought you news of a server decommissioned after eighteen years and ten months of continuous operation. Readers have since suggested to us that the machine was a mere infant. “Randy” wrote to tell us he's familiar with a site where over 150 Digital Equipment Corporation Adec400xP Application Servers have been …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Get the consultants in!!!!!!!!!!!!one

    “Sam”, told us that in 1985 he built an employee retirement plan app around a Lotus 123 spreadsheet running on an IBM PC-XT.

    “Much later, in 2005, I got a call from an old coworker, now CIO of the company,” The call was to let him know that the PC was about to be retired.

    “The same PC-XT and dot matrix printer had been calculating and printing retirement account statements for 20 years! And it was actually still working flawlessly,” Sam says. “The CIO said they never saw a need to replace it because it was fast and accurate.”

    Only outsourcing to a financial services company brought about the box's demise.

    ????Eh????

    Well that sounds sure to save them a few bob -------------------------->

  2. akeane

    And stores receipes...

    >

    Reader “Elmer” wrote to say he's run a DR-DOS-powered Pentium-120 since late 1996. “This machine serves as a database for my phone numbers and dials them using a Bluetooth interface to my cellphone,” Elmer said in his polite e-mail. “It also keeps financial records.”

    Elmer says the box “Works fine for the tasks it focuses on.”

    <

    I was fortunate enough to get a job for my "sandwich" year (1997) at uni working for the DR-DOS guys!

    Wotta a time, Digitiser was still on teletext, I used to get in at 6 a.m. to play QuakeWorld on the 128k ISDN, ZIP drives, Dungeon Keeper, F1GP2 (cracked so I could play it on my Acer 355 laptop without a CD being present), and mucking about adding long name file support and running the OS boot through Soft-Ice to figure out how to support 2GB disks...

    Moc-a-moc!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And stores receipes...

      "This machine serves as a database for my phone numbers and dials them using a Bluetooth interface to my cellphone"

      Yep, I definitely can't think of a simpler solution to that particular problem...

      1. Pookietoo

        Re: can't think of a simpler solution

        There may be situations in which that is an optimal solution, as well as those where saying "Phone, call Bob" is better.

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: And stores receipes...

        Don't see any problem, as long as your phone is always within Bluetooth range of this machine.

    2. jpmorris

      Re: And stores receipes...

      "I was fortunate enough to get a job for my "sandwich" year (1997) at uni working for the DR-DOS guys!"

      Nearly fell off my chair reading that, since I was the other placement student. Good to see you're alive and well.

      The other big project at the time was DR-Webspyder, the DOS web browser. You may have deliberately forgotten that, in which case I apologise for reminding you.

      I think my proudest moment working on DR-DOS was fixing the CDROM driver (NWCDEX) that prevented System Shock from starting.

      Fun times, and a real shame they imploded, turned into SCO and went mental. In a way they were ahead of the curve, in that they did the whole dot-com crash type thing years before it was fashionable...

      Another fun thing was that the main server was a Netware box (the company all being ex-Netware). It was running 4.1 I think, and every so often it would just die with the error 'Multiple Abends'.

      1. Runilwzlb

        Re: And stores receipes...

        Just seeing the words "DR DOS" brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes. It was everything a computer user could want. For all our 'advancement', its been downhill ever since. It would be wonderful if we had a modernized version for today’s users. Linux is close, but DOS is easier.

        Back then, computers 'did' things. Today, we use machines a thousand times more powerful...so that we can pop virtual bubbles, play Fruit Ninja, and afflict the world with an inexhaustible supply of Kardashian/Jenner photos.

  3. Philip Storry

    >

    “Igor” told us about a pair of IBM e x235 servers that have run since 1997, each packing four Pentium III CPUs, 4GB of RAM and eight 72GB Seagate SCSI HDDs.

    <

    Nope. The Pentium III wasn't released until 1999, so he must mean a Pentium II or has his dates wrong.

    The amount of RAM is also a little luxurious for 1997, when the average PC had 16Mb and the average server had 32-64Mb. Not necessarily impossible, but dubious. I'd expect 1Gb of RAM tops in an x86 based machine in 1997.

    And 72Gb hard disks in 1997? Not that I recall. Not even with SCSI bypassing the ATA limit of 512Mb. Maybe in pixie-la-la-land, but not on any site I worked at. The standard size around then was around the 400Mb region for a desktop, and servers might stretch to 2Gb per disk - but you were more likely to see an array of 1Gb disks.

    Everything about Igor's story seems suspect. Those specifications are just too early. I respectfully submit that he's misremembered, and apologise to him for being the one to have to point it out.

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

      I used to do quite a bit of work on NetFintiy and System X back in the day. If I remember right, late 90's/early 2000's would have been IBM NetFinity boxes with PII and PIII Xeons. In fact a quick Google found this amusing piece from El Reg - http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/11/04/ibm_ups_pc_server_price/

      The x235 was around 2003 (http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/rep_ca/9/897/ENUS103-039/). For it's time, a beefy little tower that could certainly support the specs mentioned, though it's likely a P4 Xeon.

      A few wires crossed methinks. Happens to me all the time. I blame senility and overdoing the coffee.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. The P3 was not released until 98-99, additionally 73GB HDD's were early 2000's..

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      <pedant on>

      GB not Gb, totally different measurement!

      <pedant off>

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are definitely misremembering HD specs of that era.

      The 512MB barrier had long been crossed by 1997; that era was time of the 8.4GB limit.

      A consumer PC (just a desktop, not a fancy server) my family bought in the tail end of 1997 featured a 3.2GB hard drive, and if I recall correctly, 4GB was an option.

      That PC had 32MB RAM standard, for what it's worth.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        scavenger

        In 1999 I was pinching RAM out of dying to dead machines to prop up the living. 64MB was living large then. They had a Celeron processor.

      2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        "that era was time of the 8.4GB limit"

        Imposed by a BIOS INT13 interface limit, not by disks, and it had to be amended with BIOS INT13 extensions.

        SCSI-2 protocol has a 2TB hard limit. Nothing before that.

    5. RainbowTrout

      In the mid 90's we were using 4GB SCSI's on our SGI workstations (in external enclosures) and may have had at most 25-30GB of total disk space (which at that time seemed more than enough storage space). The biggest issue was the weekly backups (on a single DAT drive running over 4 to 6 tapes with swapping) took so long it was time for the next one before the last one finished.......

    6. chivo243 Silver badge

      Effin Coincidence it is..

      I worked for a Video Studio that was trying the waters of digital editing, back in the mid 1990's and just today I was trying to remember what size drive, yes one drive they were trying to use, (I wasn't a tech guy then, but a film editor) here was the latest and greatest then:

      1992: Seagate is first to market with a 7200-revolutions-per-minute hard drive, the 2.1GB Barracuda.

      http://www.pcworld.com/article/127105/article.html

    7. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      "72Gb hard disks in 1997? Not that I recall."

      Indeed. 9.1 GB SCSI disks had just hit the streets. Noisy beasts with 1.6" thickness. Price-wise they were quite, but not entirely unlike a brick of gold.

      For a reference point, I have a working Netfinity 5500 in my shed, built in early 1998. Hasn't been running all the time, so it doesn't qualify for the pissing contest.

      2x Pentium II 400 MHz in Slot-1 cartridge format.

      4 slots for PC-100 ECC SDRAM, taking either 128 MB or 256 MB sticks. Was quite heartwarming to know that you could sell your car for a whopping 1 GB of memory.

      40 MB/s RAID controller on the motherboard.

      6 hot-swap SCSI disk slots with 3.5" width and 1" height (those 9.1 GB Seagates with 1.6" height took away two slots). 70GB DLT tape drive.

      In 1998, a fully loaded 5500 had a street price of 25000 pounds or thereabouts. Woot.

    8. HWwiz

      Agreed. Even Compaq ProLiant's from 2000 came out with 9.1GB SCSI disks.

      1. dmacleo

        ml350g1 I had built in nov/dec 1999 (came with NT) had the 18GB seagate scsi ultra 60 drives.

        ran that (used 146GB drives) until 2008 running server 2003R2

  4. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

    A one hertz CPU, one kilobyte of RAM, & a 5.25" low density floppy drive is enough to run this fresh copy of Windows 10 that Microsoft insists I download over my 300baud accoustic coupler style, joystick port connected modem, right?

    </SarcasticTwit>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Windows

      Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

      Well, 640kB is enough for anyone.

      -- Billy G III

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

      My current CPU seems to run at one Hertz per megasecond.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

        One cycle per second per megasecond?

      2. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

        Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

        I think mean mean 1 microhertz?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

        My current CPU seems to run at one Hertz per megasecond.

        So your CPU is slowing down by 1mHz per second (= 0.001 cycles per second, per second)?

        1. PNGuinn
          Headmaster

          Re: Bah! MegaHertz are for chumps!

          "So your CPU is slowing down by 1mHz per second (= 0.001 cycles per second, per second)?"

          Wouldn't that mean "My current CPU seems to run at minus one Hertz per megasecond."?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guarantee you that banks and a few big enterprises have much older stuff still running just because of the risk associated with turning it off.

    Unfortunately their staff are probably too NDA'ed to tell us.

    I wonder how much COBOL code will still be running when the last person who speaks the language passes on.

    1. Rob Moss

      John Lewis are still hiring COBOL developers.

      1. MAH

        Ahh cobol...the only other instance where a missing period causes so much anxiety and grief

        1. HWwiz

          Quote of the week.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Ahh cobol...the only other instance where a missing period causes so much anxiety and grief

          At least with COBOL you can use ANSI (COBOL-85) scope terminators, and turn on compiler diagnostics for implicit end-of-scope. That doesn't seem to work with the other sort of period.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      The COBOL code here is still running and probably will keep doing so for years to come. But for the last 4 or 5 years it's been running in a virtual machine on Intel x86 hardware.

      1. GrumpyOldMan

        I seem to remember that at the Milleniumumum that the retired Cobol and Fortran boys made an absolute fortune in support contracts!

    3. Naselus

      "I guarantee you that banks and a few big enterprises have much older stuff still running just because of the risk associated with turning it off."

      Yeah, their security stuff is definitely even older...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Unfortunately their staff are probably too NDA'ed to tell us.

        Specific details yeah, but not completely NDA'd... BBC Radio 4 had a 15 minute documentary last year about the ancient code that banks run.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      have an upvote and an anonymous "no comment" ;-)

    5. Fihart

      CP/M lives ?

      Friend working for one of the NatWest subsidiaries told me that their entire system went down after some bright spark changed something minor like a logging file that managed to exceed CP/M's capacity to address memory.

      I was astonished that they had anything CPM still running in the 1990s but apparently no one still working there had any idea how to replace the machine in question. So it remained central to their IT system.

      I recalled then that the first word processing prog I used in 1985 was Superwriter by CA and it had been created for CP/M so, even ported to DOS, it could not deal with documents over a certain length.

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      I wonder how much COBOL code will still be running when the last person who speaks the language passes on.

      There are still a number of universities teaching COBOL, and it's not too difficult to pick up on one's own. As long as there's a market, someone will fill it.

      There is definitely still a lot of COBOL from the 1980s and a fair bit from the 1970s running among our customer base.

      Old code is easier to find than old hardware. I know of several significantl pieces of C I wrote in the '80s that are still in production use. And of course OSes tend to keep some of their code alive for a very long time, on the "if it ain't broke" principle. I imagine there are discernible bits of OS/360 still in zOS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        OS/360 no

        OS/370 yes

        OS/360 was fundamentally a non-interactive batch-only system and only hade timesharing/preemtive multitasking glued on (TSO, MFT/MVT). It didn't have virtual memory.

        OS/370 was what became the foundation of MVS and later OS/390 and z/OS. It still has TSO looking pretty much the same when interacting with it, but it's now just a command shell.

        The source code of both can be found online - I have actually built OS/360 with HASP and TSO from source. Fun times!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Bah. OS/370 was OS/360 with a few of the more annoying bugs fixed and virtual memory superimposed on the remains. Uptime was measured in HOURS.

          Still, OS/360 MFT put men on the moon. MTBF on a 1 MIPS (360/75) processor was ~20 hrs, so a few software hacks were needed so that computer coverage for entire missions could be ensured.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            LOL - yeah right

  6. wolfetone

    Prez and his music machine

    Reminds me of that scene in the latter Only Fools And Horses episodes when Trigger is there with his broom saying he's had the same brush for 15 years, but has replaced the stick 8 times and the head 6 times.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Prez and his music machine

      As was pointed out in the comments to the article that inspired this one, that's the Ship of Theseus problem in ontology, though the one you cite is closer in spirit to the "Grandfather's Axe" variant.

      It's one of the best-known philosophical problems. In Japan, it's often associated with Kinkaku-Ji, a historic temple ("the temple of the golden pavillion"), all of which has at one time or another burned and been rebuilt.

      David Wong does an amusing version of it in the preface to John Dies at the End.

  7. chrullrich

    "The server is an HP Netserver LX with dual 200MHz Pentium Pros, 128MB of RAM, runs Windows NT 4.1"

    That last alone, of course, makes it unique, hence unsurpassable, in the world.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Methinks perhaps they meant NT 3.1, or NT 4

      ... or maybe they've developed their own fork of the NT product?

  8. TeeCee Gold badge
    Alert

    How old?

    Once upon a time, an engineer on site told me of a legal firm in Kent. They'd just been told that it would no longer be possible to provide software updates or changes for their aging box, which was still adequate for their purposes.

    The machine which "knitted" core[1] ROMs had finally given up the ghost in a terminal and permanent fashion. This was in the late '90s.........

    [1] Yes that is core memory, made with actual cores!

    1. Known Hero
      Happy

      Re: How old?

      You're going to have to explain that one to the under 30's !!!

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: How old?

        I might be sub 30s (just), but I know damn well what core memory is, thankyouverymuchyouoldcodger.

        1. wolfetone

          Re: How old?

          "I might be sub 30s (just), but I know damn well what core memory is, thankyouverymuchyouoldcodger."

          I'm also sub 30's, and I find the problem with the over 30's is that they haven't heard of a thing called "Google" which allows us to find out what core memory is.

          1. Known Hero

            Re: How old?

            The explanations here tend to be quite informative, also, when somebody does run a search of "core memory", wouldn't it be nice to see the reg come up with the explanation and a following argument over semantics.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How old?

            The problem with sub 30s is that they put too much faith in Google and technology in general.

          3. Patrick R
            Holmes

            Re: the over 30's... they haven't heard of a thing called "Google"

            You might not know but... those who invented Google are over 30's.

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: the over 30's... they haven't heard of a thing called "Google"

              "those who invented Google are over 30's."

              Yeah but they have a group portrait in the attic cloud which absorbs any evil they may do.

          4. asdf Silver badge

            Re: How old?

            You are correct that many over 30 don't use Google but because we tend to be able to understand the concept of privacy and use DuckDuckGo or disconnect.me to hit against Google search in Tails OS instead. Also note to young ones nobody gives a shit about pictures of your last meal or your fantasy football team.

          5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: How old?

            "they haven't heard of a thing called "Google" which allows us to find out what core memory is."

            Yeah, core memory, invented by Apple,

    2. Kevin Johnston

      Re: How old?

      Ah, those were the days...creating some code on one machine and moving the memory core card to a different machine to run the program....so much more tactile than USB sticks

      1. elDog

        Re: How old?

        Or the whole OS on punched cards or paper-tape. When Mylar tape came around we thought we had finally solved the problem of infinite-length storage.

        I started out at the WHO with core memories and am probably finishing up my career (50+ years) with a flash. Lovin every single year of it.

        1. Zolko

          Re: How old?

          "punch cards" ? Hah, luxury, WE had to save data in memory by setting the transistor gates through jumpers on the motherboard !

    3. Fihart

      Re: How old?

      Visited IBM's research place at Hursley(?) in 1974 and was shown strange object with a matrix of wired and ferrite thingies. Assume that was core memory -- as I recall it was a museum piece even then.

      Still, probably more stable than mercury baths with a transponder at each end to act as a delay-line memory.

  9. joeW Silver badge

    "The motherboard was replaced a dozen years ago, enabling an upgrade from a 166Mhz Pentium to a 500Mhz model"

    That would have required more than changing the motherboard - if I'm not mistaken, they would also have had to change the RAM when stepping up from a Pentium to a Pentium 2.

    If you change the board, the chip and the RAM it isn't really the same PC anymore.

    1. Naselus

      There's a decent chance they'll have needed to swap out the expansion cards, power supply and case, too. By which point it's definitely Trigger's broom.

      My PC at home is perhaps three years old, on average. I've been upgrading it for 20 years.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        My PC at home is perhaps three years old, on average. I've been upgrading it for 20 years.

        I've not been adding anything to this debate about my own in-daily-use computer, which is (I think) 22 this year, for a similar reason. It's an Acorn RiscPC and still (though not for much longer) runs as the mail server chez Angove, as well as general email-writing, document-editing and occasional diagram-drawing using the unsurpassed (well, maybe) Messenger, Impression and Draw.

        But it probably doesn't count as truly 22 years old because the only parts that really are 22 years old are the motherboard, "Podule" riser and case. The VRAM is 21 years old (there weren't any 2MB modules when I bought the thing so I had to swap out later), the main RAM (72 pin FPM) was upgraded from 4MB to 16MB+4MB and then to 64MB+16MB, the processor is a StrongARM which replaced the original ARM610 when the machine was perhaps three years old, the power supply was replaced at about six or seven years old (though the new one is actually a "refurbished" model), and of course its on its (if I remember correctly) fifth and sixth hard discs (the main unit is now a Momentus XT hybrid drive). It's also had several ROM swaps and currently runs OS 4.39.

        I still have - though don't use - the '486SX second processor card.

        Over the years it's also had new mice, keyboards and gained various add-ons including CD drives, an enhanced IDE interface and (crucially to the thing's usefulness) a network card.

        I'm quite proud of it, but it doesn't nearly compare with some of the things being written about here!

        M.

        1. Stuart Castle

          That's the thing if you upgrade your PC continually rather than buying new.. The last time I bought a new PC for home was for my degree work in 1994. I bought an Escom 486 (IIRC) running OS2. I've upgraded and changed bits since then, and although the PC now bears no resemblance to the one I bought (I've changed everything at least once, even the power cord when the insulation was damaged), I've done it bit by bit and never bought a new PC to replace it. Note: This is not the same PC. I'm not trying to re-enact that Only Fools and Horses scene where Trigger boasts he has the same broom and it's only had three new heads and four handles. The PC currently has a Core i5, 16 gig of RAM and several Terabytes of SATA storage, so is a little more powerful than the 486 I bought.

          I've bought a laptop for work, and a Macbook when that died, but that's it.

          1. ricardian

            Back in the mid 1980s I was a Civil Servant in a large Government organisation. Our departmental head had introduced the IBM PC (running at almost 12 MHz) as the answer to most of our problems. His side-kick decided that Multimate was the software package that would empower the PC, I forget the exact number of 5.25" floppies but it was a LOT and it took a long time to install and even longer to teach folk how to use it. As each new head of department took up his/her post the favoured software package changed - first to Lotus 123 then Wordperfect, MS Office, a brief foray into free OpenOffice before finally returning to MS Office just before I retired 12 years ago

        2. IDN_MikeG

          I've got one of them... same sort of upgrade path, bought it new with a pretty basic spec and single slice, now a 4-slice box with multiple hard drive, StrongARM, etc etc. The fact that a Raspberry Pi does the same stuff now is only mildly irritating.

          Actually, it's living at my ex-wife's house at the minute. I think she believes it to be an integral part of the desk.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        "My PC at home is perhaps three years old, on average. I've been upgrading it for 20 years."

        Mine had reached the point where the only original part was the 5.25" 1.2MB FDD until a motherboard upgrade lost the FDD controller. The drive is still in the bay for nostalgia purposes.

    2. Really Anonymous Coward

      If it was a P2, he was lucky not to have to switch from AT to ATX and hence need a new case as well!

    3. danielbUK

      Maybe it was Triggers computer?

  10. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Power

    Where do these people get an eighteen year supply of uninterrupted electricity in broom cupboards from? We have what I consider to be reasonably robust arrangements (30 mins battery, dual redundant generators) but we still have annual outages for planned maintenance. Our data centres are better (dual and triple everything) but even they have an oops every decade or so.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Power

      Where do these people get an eighteen year supply of uninterrupted electricity in broom cupboards from?

      From a (smallish cheapish shoebox-size) UPS?

      If you live in rural parts short power outages are frequent and so are voltage excursions (sags and spikes). If you connect a PC direct to the mains, its power supply is likely to fail within a few years, quite apart fron whatever the crashes will do to its software and filesystem integrity. If you want a quiet life you insert a UPS between the PC and the mains. In my experience a shoebox sized APC UPS will protect the PC from all of these and won't be taken out by anything short of a nearby lightning strike (the sort which also fries most of your domestic electronic appliances).

      Every few years it will tell you to replace the battery, which you do "live" without taking the PC down. (*Do* replace the battery when told to -if you don't it will swell up so you cannot get it out, and some time after that it may "explode": spray sulphuric acid all over its vicinity. )

      And incidentally, the one I have will keep a small idle PC running for about half an hour, so only the most serious of power outages will take your PC down. So yes, I can believe 18 years. The last outage in excess of half an hour was the 1987 "hurricane", although of course, others haven't been so lucky in more recent years. And no, I'm not claiming uptime since 1987.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Power

        "Every few years it will tell you to replace the battery, which you do "live" without taking the PC down."

        Must admit, it's genuinely never crossed my mind to do this, and I've always just made scheduled maintenance windows for clients.

        I'm going to assume that this requires a UPS that supports hotswapping of the lead acid cell, with well insulated terminals etc, as the concept of the power dropping out while you've got your fingers around the loose terminals in all the UPSs I've seen is an....interesting one...KZZRT.

        Not remotely suggesting that it's a bad idea, as I say, it's just literally never crossed my mind to do it while the power is still on - I feel I've been missing a trick, especially on sites where bouncing the server takes 30 minutes...

        Steven R

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Power

          Just read and follow the instructions which come with an APC SmartUPS 750, or every previous APC model that I have dealt with. There's a small quiet KZZRT when you connect the new battery, but you are warned to expect it and it's harmless. The wiring you are playing with is (a) low battery voltage and (b) well-insulated, unless you are the sort who feels an irresistible urge to stick a screwdriver into a battery connector.

          The first time I did his I lacked confidence, so I arranged a scheduled shutdown of the server and substituted a 60W lamp for the server while I swapped the battery. Not a flicker.

          This is one reason why I am an APC fan (although the company has been taken over since I last purchased one). The other is their longstanding open-source support of their Smart UPS protocol.

          You do need to consider the slight risk of a power outage while the UPS has no battery. You have to consider "if anything can go wrong, it will", and "we need a scapegoat". Large datacenter-sized UPS battery banks are replaced on a rolling maintenance basis by the support company. I was there once when that went horribly wrong. I prefer the small stuff myself.

          1. Soruk
            WTF?

            Re: Power

            > Large datacenter-sized UPS battery banks are replaced on a rolling maintenance basis by the support company. I was there once when that went horribly wrong.

            Argh. You can't just post that without giving out the juicy details!

            1. Nigel 11

              Re: Power

              Argh. You can't just post that without giving out the juicy details!

              I don't know the details. Just that the fire alarm went off, that after we got back into the building the servers in the datacentre were down, and that people I know were in charge of the things in there were shouting into phones and running around like headless chickens. Later I found out that the company doing the rolling maintenance on the big UPS got it seriously wrong.

              Basically, the UPS went KZERRT and a tonne or so of lead-acid batteries makes for a really loud KZERRT, including smoke. Somehow they managed not to dump the Halon, and nobody was hospitalized (neither by the UPS nor by the management folks).

              1. Nigel 11

                Re: Power

                Argh. You can't just post that without giving out the juicy details

                To make up for not knowing those details, here's my small rack-mount UPS story.

                Somebody ignored the UPS replace battery warnings, and the battery pack swelled up a lot. It forced the sides of the UPS case outwards a few millimeters which was enough to make it completely impossible to slide the UPS out of the rack on its runners, and also completely impossible to slide the very important server immediately above the UPS out of the rack.

                The idea of leaving the UPS there "forever", turned off and disconnected, until the entire rack was scrapped, was given some consideration. But the thought of a high-pressure acid leak in the vicinity of much expensive hardware was too disconcerting. As was the (lack of) gravitational stability of a rack with many kg of UPS near the top and the chances of doing one's back an injury in getting it there.

                It took several hours downtime. We had to poweroff everything in the rack. Then we had to remove servers one at a time, starting at the top, until the one immediately above the UPS was able to move a few millimeters upwards and unbind itself from the body of the UPS. Then there was lots of poking and twisting and prodding with various tools down the very restricted spaces between the UPS and the rack until eventually, it was made possible to extract it using brute force. Then we had to reassemble everything in the rack, this time with a 1U gap above the replacement UPS "just in case".

                No, the old UPS didn't explode. Not even when a colleague was kicking it hard from behind to force it forwards a few millimeters at a time, while others held on to the rack.

                1. Stoneshop Silver badge

                  Re: Power

                  As was the (lack of) gravitational stability of a rack with many kg of UPS near the top and the chances of doing one's back an injury in getting it there.

                  This sounds Quite Wrong, but it was probably dictated by more convenient rack space for the replacement UPS not being available.

              2. zebthecat

                Re: Power

                That reminds me.

                Years and years ago my department's intranet web server lived in the same office as the network manager (next to mine) as there was nowhere else to put it and it had a dinky UPS to keep it alive just in case.

                However, when the time came, and some Thames Water workers accidentally cut the power cable for our building.

                1. Everything goes dark with just the sounds of dying fans piercing the silence.

                2. There is a loud explosion

                3. The slightly singed Network Manager stumbles, coughing, out of his office in the midst of a cloud of smoke.

                4. Smoke alarms go ape (thanks to PP3 batteries)

                I have been wary of UPSs ever since

          2. Steven Raith

            Re: Power

            Ah, you see I just used common sense and assumed power off was the safer option!

            I'm hoping my next career move means not dealing with consumer/SMB grade UPSs, but handy to know.

            Cheers!

            Steven R

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Power

              re: 'live' battery swaps

              At work each rack is protected by one of the mid-range APC SmartUPS units - a 3kVA model. We have perhaps a dozen in total. These have removable battery trays which are very easy to remove; pop off the front panel, undo three screws, disconnect the battery pack (proper connector, not just spade terminals) and slide the thing out. Easy and safe to do with the power on.

              It contains eight 12V, 5Ah batteries and weighs an absolute ton, but apart from that it's an easy job. We replace the actual batteries in the tray, though APC prefer you to buy a new tray as a unit. They seem to last about 4 or 5 years doing the very light-duty we have, but I have to agree with whoever it was said that once the thing warns you to replace them, do it immediately. I have on several occasions removed trays only to find that parts of them are too hot to handle and two or three of the enclosed batteries have swelled enough to be worrying. On one occasion, a removed battery was so hot that it took most of the working day sat on the bench to return to room temperature. Never had one burst (they have pressure valves) or leak (the electrolyte is a gel) though.

              At home, where I have a couple of much cheaper units, it's a case either of replacing the batteries at 3 or 4 year intervals to be safe, or testing them occasionally and replacing them when they can't hold the attached load up for more than the time it takes to shut down gracefully. It's not practical to replace these "live", mainly because the access to the batteries is awkward enough that it's easier (and safer in one case due to exposed wiring) to isolate the supply and remove all attached cables first.

              The SmartUPS units cost a lot more money but do the testing for themselves and email you (ours have network cards fitted) when there's a problem.

              Our home mains (semi-rural South Wales) is "iffy" at best, even after they fitted the new transformer a few years ago. We regularly have short (under 10 second) power cuts, and occasionally longer ones, though the last very long one was a couple of winters ago. The main problem at the moment is "glitches" where the lights flicker but the power doesn't go off for long enough to affect anything much; even the clock on the microwave stays running. I suspect a loose connection somewhere (not in the house!). One UPS has boost-buck circuitry and copes that way, the other bleeps and goes into battery mode for a few seconds.

              M.

              1. HWwiz

                Re: Power

                At home we have a SmartUPS 1500 unit with no internal battery. Instead, re-wired to a cable that goes outside to a small plastic box that has a Car battery.

                We use the UPS to cover the TV, virginmedia kit, and all the internet comms + hifi. Oh, and a standing lamp with an energy bulb.

                We have lots of power cuts, so having a UPS was a must. Running on a car battery the TV will run for almost 3hrs. And a car battery is ALOT cheaper than a APC RBC7 battery.

                1. Nigel 11

                  Re: Power

                  OUt of interest - do you get a few years life out of a car battery? I've always understood that the gel-filled batteries in UPSs are deep-discharge-tolerant, whereas car batteries are not. So if you run a few times on the battery until the UPS decides it is time to give up, with a car battery you may find that it is knackered. But of course, three-hour power cuts are pretty rare.

                  1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                    Re: Power

                    "I've always understood that the gel-filled batteries in UPSs are deep-discharge-tolerant"

                    As a general rule - no. Deep discharge cells are too expensive and unnecessary for the UPS use. Most UPS designs consider cell voltage below 12 volts as "empty" and will cut power off. Also, generic VRLA cell will rapidly deteriorate when its voltage drops below 10 volts. For that reason, typical UPS refuses to charge deeply discharged cells. There are exceptions, like solar energy storage solutions using a modified UPS and deep discharge cells. But charging circuit has to be well aware of the battery type.

                    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/VRLA_battery

                    AGM & Gel VRLA batteries:

                    Have shorter recharge time than flooded lead-acid.[15]

                    Cannot tolerate overcharging: overcharging leads to premature failure.[15]

                    Have shorter useful life, compared to properly maintained wet-cell battery.

              2. Andy A

                Re: Power

                At one place I used replace UPS batteries as soon as the light came on. Wander 400 yards down the road to the Battery Shop and pick up a set and get reimbursed via Expenses. They ALWAYS had what I asked for.

                Plug in the UPS tray, and be ready for the Crack! as the last connector went on.

                A half-hour job at most.

                Taken over by a new outsourcing company, I was informed that that was no longer possible.

                New scheme:

                - Log fault with server support team. The fault is only allowed to be a "Severity 3", because services are still up.

                - Wait for them to do nothing, because the UPS is only supporting network switches.

                - After 2 weeks, chase them.

                - After another 2 weeks, escalate call.

                - After another week, someone decides that the fault ought to be dealt with. They move things around for another week, then I get an email saying that a quote has been requested.

                - Another 4 weeks after that, a parcel arrives AIRMAIL from the USA, with APC logos all over it. The airmail charge is about twice the value of the contents, which are...

                ... exactly the same batteries I could have had on day 1,(except they cost a lot more since they are in an APC carton).

                - I log a request with senior management for them to arrange a site-wide outage, as the failed batteries have now swelled to the point where they can only be removed by dismantling the UPS metalwork. The fault is now "Severity 1" - the type which has to be discussed in detail with the client. The cost of that discussion time is many times the cost of the batteries, and the outage has to be outside normal hours.

                - Management complain about the overtime claim.

                Having moved around a bit since then, I found myself this morning extracting batteries from decommissioned UPSs. This site refuses to allow battery swaps, deeming them "hot work", so UPS red lights are much in evidence, until the rack is redundant or the UPS lets its magic smoke out.

                Many batteries had swelled, or cracked and caused corrosion.

                With new batteries costing less than a quarter of a new UPS, this policy seems stupid to me, but "the customer is always right". The real problem for us is shifting 60kg boxes around when you have a panic because of dead equipment.

          3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Power

            I wasn't a fan of the APC serial cables (Recent ones have some form of RJ connector), accidently grabbed a serial extension cable a few months back for an old APC2200.

            Thank goodness for dual power supplies and having two of everything!

            1. Mr Anonymous

              Re: Power

              "I wasn't a fan of the APC serial cables"

              Win NT3.1/5 would turn off an APC UPS as it itinitialised the serial port during boot, resulting in interesting boot cycle until you pulled the cable.

              1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

                Re: Power

                "Win NT3.1/5 would turn off an APC UPS as it itinitialised the serial port during boot, resulting in interesting boot cycle until you pulled the cable"

                Really so even with the APC cable was used NT 3.1/5 would send a signal down every pin O_O

            2. Nigel 11

              Re: Power

              I wasn't a fan of the APC serial cables

              Seconded. Label the heck out of that cable, or cable-tie it to the UPS with which it belongs, or both. It's not a standard cable. More recent ones also have USB.

        2. HWwiz

          Re: Power

          Ive never swapped a UPS battery with the UPS off.

          All APC units can be done live with no issues at all. That's the way they are supposed to be done, by design. Even on little 750va units. Up to the big 10,000va units.

    2. Tom Womack

      Re: Power

      Planned maintenance would be the problem there; guaranteed breakage, whilst most kit will just keep on keeping on without worrying about maintenance. The servers at a previous place of work went down mostly because of UPS preventative-maintenance or bugs in the device that attempted to determine whether the chiller cabinet chiller had stopped working.

      The mains is much more reliable than your average UPS.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Power

        The mains is much more reliable than your average UPS.

        Not even in West-end London, if the UPS is an APC SmartUPS. That's true even if I exclude the various times it was a premises fault(*) rather than a fault with the supply to the premises(**).

        Now I'm out in rural parts, I see power outages or glitches several times per month. Sometimes the desktop clients keep going while the lights flicker, sometimes they crash, sometimes the lights go out for a second or two. Always, the UPS has kept the servers going as if nothing happened.

        (*) e.g. I once plugged in a faulty PC to diagnose its problem, and the PSU went bang, and the lights in my office went out. Trudging down the corridor to the circuit breakers I couldn't help noticing that everyone else's lights were also out! The outage was traced to a huge fuse in a box high on the wall above the breaker panel that had probably been installed in 1920 and not maintained since. The electricians sourced a replacement in Manchester and paid a man on a motorcycle to bring it to us asap. Possibly that was the last fuse that big in the country, or even in the world. The alternative would have been a whole of site shutdown and major-league rewiring of the building. Oh, and the UPSs kept the local servers up for ten minutes and then initiated a controlled shutdown when their batteries were running low.

        (**) Google "exploding pavement".

  11. Roo
    Windows

    "“Prez” told us “I just retired our music server (a digital automation system) that has been running non-stop since 12/31/95 on Windows for Workgroups 3.11.”"

    There was a bug in Win 3.1 & 3.11 where the entire UI would hang after a few days (weeks?) even if the machine was idle, so "non-stop" must mean they aren't counting reboots... Or was that bug fixed in the end (in 1996/7 the company I worked for even wrote an app to reboot the machine nicely before the lock-up happened).

    1. Philip Storry

      Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

      As far as I recall, that was Windows 95. And the actual figure was 49.7 days - or, suspiciously, around 2 billion seconds. Yes, the bug was caused by the fact that the system timer didn't wrap around - when it finally hit the maximum value of the DWORD, the machine just hung.

      The bug actually affected both Windows 95 and Windows 98, meaning it took almost three years to get enough samples to diagnose the issue.

      Thus leading to the joke "Even during their testing, Microsoft couldn't get a Windows 95 machine to stay up for more than 48 days..."

      To be fair, most Windows 95 machines that did run as servers were doing either print services or file sharing (often a file share for Microsoft Mail) on a workgroup style network. So most of them were unlikely to be powered on for longer than 5 or 6 days in a row anyway.

      But I don't think that should make anyone feel bad about sniggering at the bug. It was, and remains, a dumb mistake.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. AndrewDu

          Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

          https://xkcd.com/571/

        2. Valarian

          Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

          "This happens because a 32-bit variable is being used to store the tick count which is incremented every millisecond. A 32-bit variable can store numbers up to 4,294,967,295 which equals to 49.7 days (4,294,967,295/1000/3600/24). When this variable overflows it will start over from 0 again."

          Well thankfully the days of making silly counter-overflow mistakes like that are long behind us.

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/19/linux_kernel_keyrings_get_privilege_escalation_patch/

          Erm...

          1. 404 Silver badge

            Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

            TIL.... Never knew about this bug since I never knew a Windows 95/98 machine that wasn't rebooted at least weekly...

          2. Roo
            Windows

            Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

            "Well thankfully the days of making silly counter-overflow mistakes like that are long behind us.

            http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/19/linux_kernel_keyrings_get_privilege_escalation_patch/

            Erm..."

            Hehe, have an upvote. :)

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

          "49.7 days is about 4,300,000 seconds. You're more than two and a half orders of magnitude out!"

          Out by a multiple of a bit over 2.5. "Orders of magnitude" involves adding extra zeros on the end which is a hell of a lot more. Not sure if you can have half an order of magnitude.

          1. Nigel 11

            Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

            Yes, you can have fractional orders of magnitude. Its just use of logarithms. 10 is one order of magnitude ( log_base_10 of 10 is one). Half an order or magnitude is antilog_base_10 of 1/2, which is of course equal to the square root of 10 by definition.

            sqrt(10) is 3.1622... but since orders of magnitude usually imply low precision handwaving, half an order or magnitude is a factor of three. I've never heard anyone use "a third of an order of magnitude", but the cube root of ten is quite close to two.

      2. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

        "As far as I recall, that was Windows 95. And the actual figure was 49.7 days - or, suspiciously, around 2 billion seconds. Yes, the bug was caused by the fact that the system timer didn't wrap around - when it finally hit the maximum value of the DWORD, the machine just hung."

        That sounds like the bug - but I am certain we were dealing with WfWG & Win 3.1 - I remember hunting around the box with the 3.1 style File Manager. :)

        "But I don't think that should make anyone feel bad about sniggering at the bug. It was, and remains, a dumb mistake."

        I wasn't laughing, nor were our customers.

      3. Fluffy Cactus

        Re: Windows not running for longer than 49.7 days.

        Sorry, but, you mean 4,294,080 seconds, not 2 billion seconds.

        Because, 2 billion seconds = 2.000.000.000 or (2,000,000,000 in US lingo) , and that

        then turns out to be 23148 days, and that will be about 63.41 years.

        But don't worry about it, easy mistake to make, I make them all the time!

    2. Naselus

      Yeah, I think we need to start asking for some better evidence than just quoting random old specs that people (vaguely) remember from when they were in primary school. Half of these sound completely made up, tbh.

      Anyone can say that they recently saw a company which is still running a PDP-6 with 50 years of continuous uptime, but there's enough funny business (machines running software which crashed at 4 billion seconds, like Win 3.1; machines with specs which didn't actually exist at the time; machines with 20+ years uptime that have undergone 'minor' upgrades to literally every component every 3 years) that several of these are pretty obviously not true.

      1. Nigel 11

        Long-lived VMSclusters?

        I should think that there are some large corporates with VMS cluster incarnations that have existed since shortly after VAXclusters went on sale. (From dim memory, circa 1990). This is of course a "Grandfather's Axe" entity. You can replace every part of a VAXcluster (now VMSCluster) many times over without ever requiring a new incarnation. Given enough bandwidth between sites you can also relocate a VMSCluster datacenter without having to create a new cluster incarnation.

        Anyone care to post their VMScluster incarnation date?

        As far as long-running single computers are concerned, Voyager 1 will take a lot of beating. Launched in 1977 and still working.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Long-lived VMSclusters?

          I should think that there are some large corporates with VMS cluster incarnations that have existed since shortly after VAXclusters went on sale. (From dim memory, circa 1990).

          I started working at DEC in 1985, and there were clusters around.

        2. zebthecat

          Re: Long-lived VMSclusters?

          There, indeed, are - I worked for one.

          I am pretty sure their two main cluster incarnations have been since 1990 (I recall rewriting some ancient C++ code that run there where the previous edit had been done in 1992 and this was five years ago).

          They also did a full data centre move, mainframes and all, in a weekend which was pretty bloody impressive.

          OpenVMS really is spectacularly resilient, the only downside (apart from debugging which was hideously slow) was the boxes puny network cards.

    3. Jos V

      Roo. I'm not sure if 3.1x was the same, but W95 would crash after running for 49.7 days, due to a timing algorithm problem. At the time MS release a fix, but I had to apply for it by sending a request to them. It was not send automatically as an update.

      I guess they never expected anyone to run W95 for that long...

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        I guess they never expected anyone to run W95 for that long...

        Reminds me of a previous place of employment where annoying freezing of the Windows ME(? - they were installed in 2001) machines was "cured" when a colleague configured a utility which regularly moved data about on the hard drive and I attached a counter to the reset button. The HDD access LED was attached to the counter's reset pin, so if the computer froze, so did the utility and without a reset the counter would reach its end value and close a relay across the reset button. Simple and effective ;-)

        M.

        1. Roo
          Windows

          @ Martin an gof

          Sounds a lot more fun than installing "RebootMan", have an upvote for finding a fun way to mitigate the work of numpty coders. :)

        2. Piro

          Please

          Now that's a fix of beauty.

  12. eJ2095

    Does my Amiga 1200 count?

    Well it has been turned off a couple of times but its till going..

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

      only if my solar powered Radio Shack calculator counts.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

        I still use the Casio solar powered scientific calculator I used for my standard grades in 1992.

        It has been switched off occasionally.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

          I still have my Grandfather's slide rule, and occasionally use it. It does not need sunlight. It will work in any light by which you can see it.

          1. Pompous Git Silver badge

            Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

            I still have my Grandfather's slide rule, and occasionally use it. It does not need sunlight. It will work in any light by which you can see it.

            My grandfather never needed one since he was a pavier. However, I still have mine from high school; an Acu-Math No 400. While the slide rule might work "in any light by which you can see it" sadly my eyes won't. I need to use a magnifier...

            1. Spasticus Autisticus

              Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

              My Acctim 80/2011 Electronic Digital Clock was bought around 1978, I bought it because it has blue digits and the alarm makes a sound like a blackbird's distress call.

              Both switches have been replaced and I can't use it as an alarm clock any more as it doesn't fully stop twittering - it sits there going tweet every couple of seconds. Otherwise it has been plugged in and telling the time pretty much since I bought it.

        2. yoganmahew

          Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

          I have both my Casio scientific (battery) and a Casio musical alarm clock with musical calculator both from 1985. The alarm clock is still in daily use.

        3. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

          "...I still use the Casio solar powered scientific calculator I used for my standard grades in 1992.

          It has been switched off occasionally..."

          Ahh...memories. My dad bought me a Casio calculator for my electrical and electronics diploma after I left school and started college in 1989... I believe it was the FX-451 from the pics etc here - http://www.voidware.com/calcs/fx451m.htm

          It had preprogrammed constants on the right hand side which saved having to memorise some silly long values...

          I kept it in a drawer for years after I last used it in the mid-90's hoping that one day maybe it'd be of use to one of my lads.

          Alas two things killed it...the first being simple failure as buttons stopped working and started to do random things and it lost the ability to add up - simple things like 2+2 gave random answers in the billions!

          But ultimately the thing that would have rendered it unusable was the fact that the preprogrammed constants have changed. In some cases significantly so, so alas it became a sad bookmark to a chapter of my life.

          I utterly loved it though and it was a real piece of work for the time it was produced. Thanks, Casio, for your help over those crazy years of learning :)

          1. Primus Secundus Tertius

            Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

            I, too, have an FX-451 which I use almost daily. E.g. to check out the 49.7 days mentioned above.

    2. AbelSoul
      Pint

      Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

      Likewise, my '92 A1200 was rehoused in a tower case around 1995 but has been largely untouched since then and still works as normal.

      Not that OctaMED or The Settlers see that much action these days...

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Does my Amiga 1200 count?

        I still use my Psion with a rangefinder to do room size / rad output calculations.

  13. Daveytay

    No mention of Novell?

    Come on Novell Netware 3.12 bricked up server story tellers. They are out there and true.

  14. Daveytay

    Novell Netware servers bricked up in a wall due to renovations? It happened.

    1. Blank-Reg
      Windows

      Details man, Details!

      Never mind, found it!

      1. TonyJ Silver badge

        "...Details man, Details!

        Never mind, found it!.."

        That reminds me. I was at a particular local government site some years ago (10+ I reckon).

        They were having a new 6kVA UPS installed and the electricians had already run the 40A commando connections.

        The same electricians wired the UPS in and turned on the power and the entire building tripped.

        They found the distribution board, reset everything and tried again to the same result. Turned out (unsurprisingly) to be a fault UPS.

        In the aftermath, it suddenly became clear that they had lost their voicemail capability but no one knew where the server was that had that particular role lived.

        Much searching around ensued before one of the older members of staff remembered they used to use part of the post room, a few years ago.

        The server - a little Compaq server (not a ProLiant - the smaller ones...ProSignia?) was eventually found in a corner buried under years' worth of hessian postal sacks.

        It was running Netware 3.1 and had never been rebooted. It was under support but when the company were called they had no record (despite taking almost £30k a year, every year for the support).

        We eventually got it and it was the venerable [USS] Enterprise1701. One controlled reboot later and all was good.

        Happy times.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Forget the Bavarian Illuminati!

          In the near future, people will talk in hushed tones of a worldwide conspiracy lead by a hive AI comprised of walled-up and lost Netware 3.1 servers.

    2. GrumpyOldMan

      Still running them here!!

  15. Individual #6/42
    Coat

    Long liven silicon

    Abu Simbel kept on marking the 22 February for a few thousand years. Though it needed a reboot in 1968 that included an adjustment; I think for procession.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Long liven silicon

      The outer ring of Stonehenge was a patch for the first millennium bug.

  16. Paul Smith

    Silicon uptime?

    Newgrange! 1,000 years older then Stonehenge, 500 years older then the Pyramids. Keeping the world from ending for over 5,000 years!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Silicon uptime?

      That needed an overhaul in the 1960s, though.

  17. Chris King Silver badge

    What, no PDP-11's ?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/19/nuke_plants_to_keep_pdp11_until_2050/

    1. wolfetone

      Re: What, no PDP-11's ?

      Forget me learning node.js or Swift. COBOL and assembly on old hardware is where the big bucks are!

      1. elDog

        Re: What, no PDP-11's ?

        But there is very new to learn. New acronyms, new flashy companies (that die in the same flashy time).

        Having written 1401 and 360 assembler as well as lots of client/server JS/etc. I keep seeing the same thing over and over again. But now re-invented with some new brands. I'm happy to relearn the stuff since the "paradigms" and "patterns" keep being relevant, but it'd be nice if everyone understood that There's Very Little New Under The Sun.

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Amstrad ALT-286 - Still going strong after 25 years

    That laptop has a slot for a single ISA card which has a 3Com 3c509b NIC fitted and it runs my home-grown MS-DOS TCP/IP stack come packet sniffer software. It cannot boast of long up-times but has served well when it does get dragged out and dusted off.

  19. nigeb

    Well, I still have my Commodore P50 programmable calculator. Mind you it needs a 3 phase supply and takes _forever_ to calculate 69! :)

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Commodore P50 programmable calculator.

      I think my TI-57 beats that, but only just.

      1. Richard Altmann

        Re: Commodore P50 programmable calculator.

        Here comes the 9V - Block battery muncher TI-30 (1976). The nightmare of my school days. It´s been sitting on my office desks ever since for motivation purpose. Math and me have a S/M relationship. Using a 1985 Privileg Solar 31 Order No. 785 6511 at Quelle for day to day calculations. Maintenence free. Washed over by several spilt drinks, covered in layers of dust and nicotine ... sourcing its power from the emissions of my laptop screen. Number pad on the keyboard? I´m left handed

  20. GrumpyOldMan

    Still have my old Casio fx5000 or something that I used for my O and A levels in the late 70's. Still on the same batteries I think. Well maybe not but hardly ever change them. And still have my old XT in the garage. With 2MB on the enormous motherboard. Woohoo!

    1. John Styles

      C-A-S-I-O, she is C-A-S-I-O

      Casio continue to make some amazingly weird stuff

      http://www.casio.co.uk/products/calculators/graphic-calculators/Product/FX-9860GII-LC-EH/

      and things that can talk to sensors

      http://www.casio-europe.com/euro/sc/accessories/ea200/

      it is like technology from a strange parallel (and I am not entirely convinced inferior) world.

  21. Efros

    IBM ATE & Amstrad PC1512

    512k IBM ATE with Hercules graphics card, 16 channel 12 bit A-D converter and 8 channel 12 bit D-A converter hooked up to the photo-multiplier tube array on a polychromator, and an oscillating galvanometer refractor plate, all controlled from a turbo pascal data acquisition program. First built in 1988 and still plodding along. It's compadre is an Amstrad 1512, used to emulate a TTY terminal that controlled an electrothermal atomizer with high voltage discharge capability. Both are still operating and both are still used on a fairly frequent basis.

  22. Cuddles Silver badge

    BBCB

    The hospital I used to work in had some older patient records on microfilm and microfiche, with the database to look them up held on a BBCB. Probably not run continuously since the '80s, but it was usually left on even when not in use so it must have had a fairly impressive uptime. As far as I know it's still there, since it would cost money to have someone figure out how to transfer the database and hospitals aren't exactly known for their ample funding levels these days.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Windows NT uptime was 15 years, three months, 13 days

    I'm quite frankly incredulous at this claim.

    https://www.ctm-it.com/it-support/blogs/matt-cannon/2013/497-days-of-uptime-kills-windows

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Windows NT uptime was 15 years, three months, 13 days

      That bug might only have been introduced after NT4, or network use might have been such that a timer never overflowed. Or he might have misremembered and it was Netware, not NT. :-)

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Windows NT uptime was 15 years, three months, 13 days

        It was a DNS server. Thank goodness for DNS caching.

    2. HWwiz

      Re: Windows NT uptime was 15 years, three months, 13 days

      At Nation***** bank, we had a Compaq server running NT4 Server with an uptime just over 6 years. Until the 6400 SCSI card did a crap on itself and died. So it is possible.

  24. Quortney Fortensplibe
    Alert

    Pah! Fly-By-Nights!

    The steam-powered Charles Babbage Difference Engine in my cellar has been running non-stop since 1834 and –apart from a brief period during the miners' strikes of the mid-1980s, when I had to put it into standby mode, owing to the difficulty in obtaining sufficient quantities of coal to allow its boiler to operate at full speed– it hasn't missed a beat.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: Pah! Fly-By-Nights!

      Horseshit. That Babbage boiler will have stress cracks, corrosion, and I highly doubt it can maintain enough pressure to do higher calculations.

      1. Quortney Fortensplibe
        Unhappy

        Re: Pah! Fly-By-Nights!

        I'm not saying it's fast, but it gets there in the end. Any day now, I'm expecting the results of its calculations as to who is going to win the Grand National in 1839. Then I'll be straight down the bookies with a....

        Oh. Wait...

    2. PNGuinn
      Go

      Re: Pah! Fly-By-Nights!

      Yew 'ad steam in 1834....

      Lucky bugger! All we 'ad were superheated dripping, 'an our dad....

  25. Stuart Castle

    Thankfully, I've been given permission to decomission the oldest server I support. It's a Power PC based Mac Pro, running OSX server. It was originally used as a host to our Mac deployment management system, and also provided a collaborative calendar for one of our departments.

    The deployment stuff was moved to a newer, but still old, X serve years ago, but we could never get the calendar working reliably on this, so we had to keep the old server running.

    Still, that server has been running since 2005. Since that time, it's been down for maybe 2 or 3 days. These have all been for software/patch installs or upgrades. It's never gone down by itself.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last year I was asked to look at the setup at a workshop with the prospect of moving a terminal off site for remote working.

    I can't remember what the server was but it had a 32 port serial card in it and a QIC drive.

    On looking up the specs it appeared to be run from a 68020 and was connected to clone VT-100s. It ran a database similar to view store.

    1. molletts

      Nostalgia alert

      [Totally off-topic - it doesn't relate to a still-running system; it's just an excuse for me to reminisce about the good old days!]

      > I can't remember what the server was but it had a 32 port serial card in it and a QIC drive.

      > On looking up the specs it appeared to be run from a 68020 and was connected to clone

      > VT-100s. It ran a database similar to view store.

      There were probably dozens of systems like that but it reminds me of an old ADDS Mentor I used to have. (I think it was an M4000.)

      I inherited it, along with a terminal and all the manuals and tapes, from a company for whom I worked on my year out between school and uni in 1997/8. They were having a clear-out before converting some storage space into offices and I just couldn't resist damn-near busting an artery carting the thing down a fire-escape and loading it into the back of my elderly car. I remember nearly going off the road when driving home that night - I took a sharp bend at my usual speed and found that the car didn't handle quite the same with all that weight in the back. (There were a few other boxes of stuff too - left-over electronic components from discontinued products, "reject" PCBs laden with gorgeous chunky 200A MOSFETs, other old computer bits, etc.)

      It had similar hardware to the one you describe. I think the main CPU was a 68020 but it also had two 68010s powering the serial I/O card. There were two huge boards stuffed with DRAM chips, which gave it (I think) 1MB of RAM. One was bigger and plugged directly into the planar (I guess it must have had some refresh controller circuitry on it or something but I can't remember now) while the other was perhaps ⅘ [I love the Compose key :)] the size and plugged into a small riser off the first. Then there was the CPU card, the SCSI controller and the serial card. I remember being somewhat amused to find that the memory retention battery was a large sealed lead-acid brick!

      I have fond memories of the time I spent formatting the Maxtor 160MB 5¼" full-height SCSI-2 hard drive and reinstalling the PICK OS from a QIC-150 cartridge, then teaching myself how to use PICK and program in DataBASIC. (I have a vague recollection of directories being called dictionaries, but little else.)

      I was sad to have to dispose of it (and numerous other old computers and peripherals) when my parents wanted the room that had been my "lab" for other things. I may still have the tape drive and tapes somewhere, though. I seem to remember using them to back up my PC at college - I'd leave a tape in the drive in the morning when I went to lectures, then pop back and change it at lunchtime, then again at the end of the day. I've probably got all the bootleg MP3s I collected from CDs borrowed from the library stashed away in NT Backup format on those cartridges. I actually installed an NT4 system a few months back (just to see if I could get an old Smart Array 2 card from my collection working) so I could dig them out and try recovering them! (Man, NT4 went like s**t off a shovel on an Athlon XP 3200+ in 2GB RAM!)

      Ahh, those were the days...

    2. HWwiz

      Sounds like a IOLAN.

      They were very popular in Car dealerships / workshops in the late 80's and into the 90's.

  27. Perpetual Cyclist

    Re: What's the big deal with wires?

    Our main database servers are approaching 16 years old , Sun enterprise 250s. I have been helping to write their cloud based replacement for the last 3 years, at which time both they and I will be put out to grass. Fortunately (for my short term employment prospects) populating the new system with content is already 1 year behind schedule and progress is slow. Our most mission critical server is making alarming noises at present, but as the local computer museum has a 250 on display, I know where to get some cheap spare parts...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My previous iMac was around 7 years old

    ...one of the white perspex ones.

    Surely a record for Apple kit.

    1. The humble print monkey

      Re: My previous iMac was around 7 years old

      One of my print servers, 2002 G4, mirror doors has been up 24/7/365.

      Sat next to it are two spare machines, awaiting cannibalisation.

      Another is a 2006 macpro1, which also runs day and night. That's under my desk and has only had one graphics card replaced. Know when to clean it out as the fans scream blue murder when the dust carpet gets too thick.

      Mac kit certainly had the potential to keep on ticking.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: My previous iMac was around 7 years old

        Mac kit certainly had the potential to keep on ticking.

        I have a recently decommissioned Mac SE here in perfect working order. Useful if I need to extract data off a floppy disk down the track. Otherwise it makes a very fine doorstop ;-)

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: My previous iMac was around 7 years old

      Surely a record for Apple kit.

      Doubt it. My oldest is Mac IIfx and yes it still boots up if needed. Wasn't fully supported by NetBSD so it ended up gathering dust in the end. Looks like the old Quadra 650 with PowerPC accelerator card also still works and boots up to System 7.

  29. Kev99

    Just goes to show that the constant upgrades foisted upon users are quite often totally unnecessary. Sure it was nice when we upgraded from a 8086 CPU box to a 286 box but theoverall improvement was mostly in display times, not actual processing. Same when we moved from a 286 to a 386-33 to a Celeron 386-133 (add in card replaced 386-33). Other than the bloat ware Microsoft has dumped into Windows over the years (remember how it originally came a few 3.5" discs?) I've really seen nothing that compelled me to upgrade. Except for the software companies dumping their support for the "latest & greatest". I still use Norton for my protection and disc management since it works, and have been since Norton 5 came out, which had features long since dropped but were incredibly handy.

    There will be those who will cry that the newer versions have better security, better UI, etc. If the writers bothered to write clean code instead of showing off or being lazy most of the security features would not be needed. As to UI, Software Carousel worked just fine. And Quattro Pro 4 for DOS had tabs & graphics long before Excel.

    The world's business was developed on IBM S/360 and DEC PDP & VAX boxes. In my opinion, today's boxes, software, and OS are toys for the lazy & incompetent.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Celeron? Sure you didn't mean Cyrix? They had a hell of a design, ran hot as fuck too with their 586 line.

      I may still have one out in the shed.

      EDIT: Not my downvote - hate people who do that, downvote and don't say *why*...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VAX

    I am aware of a few locations that have been running VAX systems since the year dot :S

    No comment about whom owns them but I bet you can guess :D

  31. Andy Taylor

    Marconi TAC

    I mentioned in the other thread, but it is worth pointing out again -

    The National Museum of Computing has one of a pair of Marconi TAC machines that were in continuous operation at Wylfa nuclear power station from 1968 until 2004. That's 36 years or double the original article's 18.

  32. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Apple ][

    The oldest running computer I saw was about 15 years ago. I had to take out a refurbished Apple ][ mainboard to a brewery lab where the Apple was being used for measuring specific gravity. The failed board was repaired and put on the shelf in case of a "next time" as the first one was a sod to source in the first place. I've no idea if it's still running but it'd not surprise me. I think the sensor probe thingy was plugged in via the joystick port. Not sure how accurate that would be.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Apple ][

      I'd be willing to bet a few Quatloos that's an Apple ][e; very reliable for data acquisition. The HP 85 was also good for that purpose and it's likely there are a few of those that are still in use, though not likely using the original inbuilt tape storage device.

      1. Efros

        Re: Apple ][

        Yep I would bet that too. We had one running in a very aggressive environment (lots of acidic vapours) for about 3 years, It lasted 18 months longer than the Commodore PET sitting next to it. I don't know what the ][e case was made from but it was as tough as old boot, the problem that eventually killed it was etching of the connectors by the acidic atmosphere.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Apple ][

          the problem that eventually killed it was etching of the connectors by the acidic atmosphere

          The PCs at the Electrolytic Zinc works in Hobart were maintained by my fellow MS Solution Provider; 'puters don't much like sulphur trioxide. I recall he also had problems with equipment at a bakery chain. Laser Printers and flour are not a good combination.

  33. Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen - he was #1!

    Crusty old computer

    My father-in-law still uses on a daily basis his no-name 486, with a "Turbo" button for that boost to 90 Mhz. I honestly don't know why you'd decide to slow it down to 80 Mhz by not using the "Turbo" button...

    He runs Win 3.11 for Workgroups (don't ask), plays scrabble and solitaire on it daily and has never had it connected to the internet. All of the parts are original except for an optical PS/2 mouse (now about 10 years old) and it's on its third monitor.

    My son, a teenager with far too many devices, thinks it is from the ark and loves it - especially Creative Writer and Fine Artist which are still engaging and fun programs.

    Father in law is 85 this year, I think that the crusty old box will outlive the man but they are both pretty stubborn!

    1. Weeble

      Re: Crusty old computer

      Because, quite literally, the CPUs were too fast for the software.

      I recall one program, I think it may have been dBASE II, which used timestamps with one second resolution for temporary file names - and these new fangled CPUs were so fast they could create two files a second.

      I'm sure it wasn't an isolated instance.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Crusty old computer

        I'm sure it wasn't an isolated instance.

        There was any number of games that became unplayable when they ran too fast.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Crusty old computer

          There was any number of games that became unplayable when they ran too fast.

          QBasic Nibbles being one. I remember copying it across to my shiny new Pentium 133MHz with 16MB RAM and Windows 95 and trying to play it.

          Uncontrollable.

          I ended up reading through the source code and adding a few more zeroes onto the delay loops.

          (Yes, I should have fixed it properly using $TIMER or some such.)

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  34. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    FAIL

    But please ....

    ... be sure to reboot your Boeing 787 once every 248 days.

    1. elDog

      Re: But please ....

      They'll blame it on pilot error. Otherwise it would be corporate liability and we can't have that!

  35. jackbee

    The Special One

    Windows NT "4.1"??? That really needs to be a special (or imaginary) NT version to run 15 years without a reboot...

  36. raving angry loony

    Reading comprehension.

    Seems that 18+ years of continuous operation still needs to be beat. Assuming it was, in fact, continuous, with no power failures, no downtime, and using the standard definition of "continuous" not the Microsoft definition.

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Reading comprehension.

      Even without that caveat I suspect computers are going to have a limited lifespan due to their use of electrolytic capacitors. When my 20+ years old Dick Smith hi-fi amplifier seemed ready for the tip, I replaced all the electrolytics and it was as good as new. Not as good as the Rotel amp that replaced it, but very useful when the Rotel needed a fix I wasn't capable of a few years ago.

      1. Efros

        Re: Reading comprehension.

        Ahhh... my very first separates system was based around a Rotel Amp with a Rotel Tuner, Wharfedale Linton Speakers and a Trio deck with a Grado stylus.

  37. gerdesj Silver badge
    Linux

    Trigger's laptop

    I have had the "same" computer since 2003. It started off life as a desktop running WinXP and then spontaneously transmogrified its OS into Gentoo Linux. I've been running it ever since, through several hardware refreshes, including turning into a laptop about 2005. Each time I imaged the old to the new and around 2009ish converted it from ~x86 to ~amd64 (32 bit to 64 bit). It's now a Core i7 with 16GB RAM and a SSD. It does boot rather quicker than when it was younger, with a pair of IDE discs.

    The make.conf still has the original creation date stamp and I have all the kernel configs. Also /home/<me> is still the same and /boot is still ext2.

  38. martinusher Silver badge

    Software Doesn't Wear Out

    There are lots of old processors and software about -- embedded systems, particularly those used in professional applications, have to run for decades. We've just been trained into the mindset that we have to upgrade stuff every year because that suits the retail market.

    I've got one old computer. Its a Corona, a clone of a PC-XP that was built as a transportable (....for an aspiring weightlifter). Obviously it doesn't get used any more but its a handy way to explode myths like "The Millenium Bug (TM)" -- lots of Marketing BS is no substitute for just cranking up a system and seeing what happens.

  39. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Happy

    Let's not forget this...

    For those that mentioned their Amigas:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150612/10090031324/mi-amiga-one-michigan-school-districts-three-decades-old-hero-computer-that-still-manages-hvac-today.shtml

  40. HWwiz

    VAX lives on.

    As I mentioned last week.

    A certain very large high street bank, has a Digital Equipment VAX unit from 1976, still in continuous operation in its "Production" network.

    We even have 3 others in the parts room to strip for parts. But to be honest it never fails. Just keeps on working. Doesn't half kick out some heat though, like standing in front of a hair dryer.

    Also got about 10 Compaq ML370 G1's running NT4 Server in the Production network. They would be from around 2001. Those old 9GB SCSI disks just keep on spinning..

    1. elDog

      Re: VAX lives on.

      You get some bragging rights at the pub. If you're looking for a job with these bonafides, have fun!

      I've used most of that equipment (or variations) and thought that they were well built and took a lickin'. Not like my tablet/pc which has 10-times the specs in every measurement area. Still...

  41. jason 7 Silver badge

    Amazing how people mess up the time frame and specs.

    I keep an early copy of NetUser from 1995 with the adverts for PC parts in to remind me.

    Staggeringly pricey!

  42. 404 Silver badge

    Boat Anchors

    I've got this bigass Dell PowerEdge tower server under my desk that runs Server 2008(original) - sounds like a jet starting up/running and was purchased back in 2005 for just under $6k. Has four 73GB SCSI drives, Xeons, 4GB ECC mem, redundant PS'sss, etc. Good machine that ran a Win 2003 AD. SQL, engineering programs for many years.

    Now I have it and don't know what to do with it... Fill the bays with eight NOS 500GB SCSI drives and make it a NAS? Prolly not, have a WD 4TB Cloudy thing for that, but damn it's serious iron.

  43. Enigman

    IBM XT's and DisplayWrite III

    Last year when visiting a lawyer's office I observed that they were still using IBM XT's running DOS 3.3 and DisplayWrite 3 for the majority of their work. They'd purchased a few spare keyboards and monochrome monitors, and the like not long after they originally purchased them and had no intention of updating their workhorses. These guys weren't short of money by any means, just short arms and deep pockets. The boxes were older than some of the staff that worked there.

    1. wolfetone

      Re: IBM XT's and DisplayWrite III

      My fiancée is a solicitor/lawyer and what I've found from being with her for 8 years and speaking to the people she works with at the law firm, the need for fancy new technology isn't there. They don't understand technology or security (amazingly), all they want is something that works and works well.

      As it goes, "if it ain't broke don't fix it", and I bet the software available at the moment wouldn't be any better than what the lawyer's office uses.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You call that old?..

    You call that old? I still have an use an iPhone 4S

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    May I be the first

    Unbelievable, four pages of pendants and nostalgia, and not ONE person has uttered the immortal words.

    "THEY DONT MAKE THINGS LIKE THE USED TO".

    BTW, Talking of software, my boss still uses Office 97

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: May I be the first

      How do you activate it?

      Tried to install a brand_new_still_in_cellophane Office 2003 the other day, no activation server, no phone number available. Curious cuz I deal with some old farts too*.

      *and I'm 51....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: May I be the first

        How do you activate it?

        You didn't. Didn't need to in those days. That started in 2002 with Windows XP / Office XP.

  46. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Trollface

    Jake

    The server is an HP Netserver LX with dual 200MHz Pentium Pros, 128MB of RAM, runs Windows NT 4.1 and Jake reckons it was purchased in 96 or 97.

    That'd be a different Jake (jake) than the one we are accustomed to around here. The real jake would have hewn the CPU out of raw silicon and woven the core memory himself.

  47. jason 7 Silver badge

    Just for reference on time/prices...

    ..From the December 1995 issue of Net User magazine (Times New Roman and grey were the new black)

    4x CD Rom - £117.00

    Pentium 133 - £507.00

    US Robotics 28K modem - £193.00

    17" OEM monitor - 570.00

    WD 1.2GB HDD - £266.00

    32MB RAM - £821.00!

    Diamond Stealth 4MB Video card - £350.00

    4x SCSI CD-R - £1864.00

    All 1995 prices + VAT at 17.5%.

    1. wolfetone

      Re: Just for reference on time/prices...

      "32MB RAM - £821.00!"

      Consider though that the same stick of RAM would still be working now, that's quite a bargain!

      I wish the same could be said for my USB flash stick that I paid £5 for 12 months ago which blew up today.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Just for reference on time/prices...

        The joy of RoHs!

        Reduce the lead...increase the landfill!

  48. nuxnix

    It is Lotus 1-2-3 not Lotus 123. A small but important detail lost over time.

  49. grabla

    Y2K

    Finally proof that all the money spent on the 'Y2K bug' wasnt wasted.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My employer has hundreds of remote sites, rarely visited unless there's a problem. Problems are reported by an alarm box that dials a PSTN connection using a modem. It sends the site ID and a text string identifying the problem according to which channel has been triggered. That data is stored in an EPROM in the box.

    Those EPROMS are updated by a programmer attached to a BBC-B in the back of a dusty office.

    There's a smaller number of sites where the level of water in a 'thing' is measured by a float. As the float rises a variable resistor is altered. That variable resistor is on the end of a pair of wires rented from BT, cross connected in the exchange to another pair of wires that end up at our main site. The wires from those sites are terminated on a A/D I/O board attached to the back of a Sinclair Spectrum +2. The program is on a cassette tape ready to be reloaded if the thing ever fails. If the resistance falls outside of a given range or changes too quickly the Spectrum I/O board earths a wire which triggers a box with the BBC-B written EPROM in it to dial out an alert.

  51. Duffaboy
    Thumb Up

    DecWriter's

    I have recently seen at a very Large BlueChip company Decwriters still in use.

  52. Jedipadawan

    OK, this doesn't count but...

    ...for what it's worth, I have a prototype Commodore PET in the old country.

    I even contacted Jim Brain online who confirmed "it's not standard."

    I think it was an R&D machine for the MKIII ROMs.

  53. /dev/null

    Adec400xP?

    I thought I was reasonably familiar with the products of DEC, but I've never heard of an "Adec400xP Application Server"...

  54. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    LUXURY!!

    I've still got callouses on my fingers from shoving them beads around on the NCB Accounts Department's Abacus machine, calculating the lads wages from working down t' pit. Never needed a reboot. Still working, I hear.

    Yoof of today? They don't know they've been born!

    Luxury! (etc...)

  55. Daz555

    Always nice to visit a server room and see a few beige Proliants still whirring away.

  56. Runilwzlb

    DR DOS Forever! (I wish)

    Just seeing the words "DR DOS" brought tears of nostalgia to my eyes. It was everything a computer user could want. For all our 'advancement', its been downhill ever since. It would be wonderful if we had a modernized version for today’s users. Linux is close, but DOS is easier.

    Back then, computers 'did' things. Today, we use machines a thousand times more powerful...so that we can pop virtual bubbles, play Fruit Ninja, and afflict the world with an inexhaustible supply of Kardashian/Jenner photos (Professional CGI being the clearest exception to this trend).

    I would feel better served with a DOS machine running my own .bat files, WordPerfect, Quicken, Lotus 1-2-3, and a few other useful apps, than I do today with Windows 10. Windows 10 doesn't launch apps any better than a dos based menu system, is loaded with Live Tiles I have no use for; and the only time I can force myself to shut my Ubuntu system (which boots in 5 seconds on a low-end AMD processor) and boot up Windows is when I want to play a Blu-Ray disc from my pc.

  57. Roger Mew

    Many companies may not actually realize they are using 386 and 486 machines to control factory systems. Why in fact bother to change them. They are working efficiently and reliably often 2 machines in parallel. I am aware of several companies where putting in a new computer would be absolutely pointless, worse somebody has to work out a program from old almost binary systems. I used to design and program the boxes for even earlier machines like the ones from texas instruments and am aware of one still in operation. So where do these classify! These are about 30 years old. Going back even further, there are machines like plastic extruder s using basic. If the machine works, is efficient in what it does why change it, lets face it an effluent control management is hardly likely to want windows 10 on a high speed computer, it will work quite happily on a 1 core machine running at almost Morse speed.

  58. Roger Mew

    Just an addition, many KC135 aircraft were built in the late 1950's, there were still in active service for the USAF until the 2000 something and some may still be. In about the year 2000 the old "where are we lets check through the hole in the roof with a sextant" computer was still there. In fact the airmen illegally were using their own private GPS units to make sure they were correct and yes there was a hole in the top of the aircraft for sextant use really. I know that they had new "fans" fitted, went back to the US for evaluating corrosion and so on, but the "computers" were using tubes or valves spares of which were carried in the aircraft. Needless to say updates meant the third man was unnecessary, so saving personnel.

  59. Brian Allan

    We still maintain accounting software for a client running everything in his accounting department under Win 3.1. It works!

  60. Rob Daglish

    Not continuous, but...

    We've got a large client who are gradually moving away from their 14ish year old IBM M52/55 fleet running XP to some new HP EliteDesk 800s. Running W8.1. :(

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Windows system unpatched for 15 years??? Let me at it!

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