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Thread: Vintage Computers Still In Practical Use

  1. #1

    Default Vintage Computers Still In Practical Use

    I vaguely remember reading an article a few years ago about a Commodore 64 that was still used to control the temperature and water quality of municipal swimming pools in Belgium, or something like that. And I also recall something about a dentist's surgery that was using Atari STs to keep their bookings schedules. I can't find sources for either of these now. But that's what I half-recall.

    Anyway, I wonder if there are any verified examples of old computers like this still in regular use, not as hobbyist platforms, but as daily working computers, running a dull-but-important program written in the 1980s or 1990s, which just - because they still do the job well enough - have never been replaced.

  2. #2
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    An auto shop in Gdansk, Poland was (at least as of 2016) still using a Commodore 64 on a daily basis: https://www.geek.com/tech/a-commodor...years-1672510/

    Another example: Don't know if they still are, but in 2015 the Grand Rapids Public School district was still using an Amiga to control heat and air conditioning in 19 different schools: https://www.geek.com/news/commodore-...years-1625147/

  3. #3

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    I know it's been awhile, but I'm putting this anecdote here because it applies and is pretty funny.....

    So my typical escapades with vintage computers have almost always revolved around using Vintage 486s like Daily drivers since I started getting serious with computing back in good ole 2001 when a 486 was considered a "boat anchor" and a "vintage computer" was limited to a Commodore 64 at the newest or so it seemed.....

    Lately I've started exploring FreeDOS and digging deeper into DOS in general. FreeDOS 2.1 comes with a web browser called Links - which is capable of accessing and even using HTTPS websites in 80x25 column text mode. I've got it on two of my computers - both of my 486's - one a WiFi connected (tethered to my phone temporarily) laptop, and the other being my DX4-100 desktop. So one night me and the wife are hanging out in the computer room and she asks "do you have a kmodern PC you can look up something for me on" - her being totally unwitting that as of late I've been using the 486es for a lot of Web Browsing on the modern web with that browser, particularly DuckDuckGo searches...

    Long story short, got her her search result right away through the 486 DX4-100 made out of 25-30 year old parts (mostly). You'd think in 2020 with HTTPS, Web 2.0, and hardly anyone supporting any sort of legacy OS anymore for web use, that would not be something you could do, but apparently whoever developed LInks still cares. I even - as a challenge, logged that thing into Facebook over Links - probably the last thing I'd think would work next to Youtube or Google (both of which I kind of have some disdain for these days - necessary evils).

    If they figure out how to put Javascript in there, and/or some kind of side-application for Youtube, you'd basically have the ability to use a 486 as a modern day daily driver still for even normal boring stuff like e-mail or videos.

  4. #4
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    Philadelphia,PA area
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    About 5 years ago, my daughter and her husband rented a storage unit in Lancaster, PA. The storage facility had some kind of access control system hooked up to the storage units that used an Apple II or IIe to monitor them.

    Tom

  5. #5
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    About 6 years ago, I picked up a PDP-8/m and some spare parts from a fellow who has been supplying and servicing DEC PDP-8 and PDP-11 controllers for boot and textile stitching machines since the 1970's. The 8/m models were retired (which is why he was selling) but he was still supporting some 8/a machines in Canada and India, and several PDP-11 installations worldwide. He had several working machines in his shop.

  6. #6
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    I had someone contact me needing a replacement MDA screen.
    Computer had been running their CNC machine since the 80s, and cost a lot, so they weren't keen to replace it.

  7. #7
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    Principality of Xeon W-2140B the Great State of Central New Jerky
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    This was possibly 15 years ago. Some guy in Kentucky was using TIPCs/TIPPCs and platform specific custom software to determine the location of pockets of oil underneath the ground. Something to that effect. I should have gotten more details.

    I just recalled today that the IRS in Long Island had rows of TIPCs. This was back in the mid to late 80s, but I just can't help but wonder what they ended up doing with them. The community college in LI put their AT&T 6300s out in the hallways in 2000. I didn't see a single taker lol.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Guisborough, England
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    Hello,

    Again, this may be about 5 years ago??

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Amstrad/com..._based_around/

    but pic looks like it might still be relevant??

    Geoff
    Vintage Devices: Epson HX-20/TF-20, Amstrad PCW 8256 (with extras), 386 and 486 PCs with 5.25 and 3.5 floppy drives, Pentium 75 with Roland LAPC-I midi card

  9. #9

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    My dad kept the farm books on a Rev B Apple IIe, using software that he wrote himself, from 1983 until the spacebar broke in 1997. So I put together a Win95 box for him, he switched to Quickbooks, and used that machine until he died 3 years ago (although it ended up getting upgraded to Win2000 somewhere in there sometime).
    -- Lee
    If you get super-bored, try muh crappy YouTube channel: Old Computer Fun!
    Looking to Buy/Trade For (non-working is fine): TRS-80 Model II,12,16,6000, Mac IIci hard drive sled and one bottom rubber foot, Hercules card + mono monitor (preferably IBM 5151), Multisync VGA CRTs, 040 or 601 card for Mac IIci, Decent NuBus video card, Commodore PC(286+), PC-era Tandy stuff, Aesthetic Old Serial Terminals, Amiga 2000 or 3000UX

  10. #10

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    Of course there was the well covered Amiga 2000 still controlling nineteen schools' HVAC systems using custom code in Grand Rapids, Michigan

    https://www.woodtv.com/news/grand-ra...s-heat-and-ac/

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