"Ancient hardware and software, most of it custom."
In fact the CAMAC standard was designed by people with a clue. It spec's features from board up to "crate" (24 boards, basically 1 level of a whole rack) up to a rack and beyond.
Critically it also includes specs on the power system.
Factoid. The #1 cause of problems on the NASA "Lessons learned"system is about power faults. $Bn space projects delayed or over budget because someone was able to insert a board into a system before it was powered up (massive starting transients), or because the power system was wrongly designed in the first place.
It's old, but it gets the job done.
You don't know much about the history of the WWW, or CERN, do you?