Oldest Working PC (redux)
More letters The replies are still coming in for our call Oldest Working PC sightings. So here's another, final, round of contenders.
Russ still runs the first computer he built in '77, completely homemade with hand-etched PC boards. Features are (among others): 4k of SRAM, home made cassette tape storage, wooden box enclosure and "blinky lights" This old-timer was programmed in Hex. "I run it every few years to see if it is still alive, and recently moved my collection of program tapes to my Sun workstation. I can still boot the machine by playing the tapes back from Sun's Audiotool."
Another reader still worships his VAXstation-II (MicroVAX-II with graphics head) that he purchased new in August 1987. It got its first Internet connection in 1990, and is still his primary email machine. It runs VMS (version 6.2, now about seven years out of date), and has been amazingly reliable, especially compared to all the "Billy-box crap out there", our reader says. It only gets rebooted when a power failure outlasts the UPS.
The Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago was the home of several TI-99 running interactive demonstrations a couple of months ago, another reader informs us.
We told you about a group from Texas using old Commodore 64s, an Atari 2600 and a Compaq luggable as instruments, but there is also a band from Birmingham (UK) called the Spectrum Orchestra. They produce music and visuals at their gigs using ZX spectrum computers, which must give Sir Clive Sinclair a big smile. More info here.
Ian Thomas says we missed one organisation famously still for using old computers, NASA. See this story about them looking for replacement 8086 parts for use in the Space Shuttles and supporting systems.
Speaking of which, Leslie Donaldson believes the Voyager probes are the oldest working PCs (scroll down) out there. Total number of words among the six computers is 32K.
Which is still 608K short of the 640K Bill Gates had in mind for us earthlings back in 1981 (to give Bill credit: he has denied this story ever since. ®