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Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Readers share tales of 20-year-old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet on PC-XT, DR-DOS and aged NT box used on live DR site

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 doing duty for decades, “Even in stuffy, hot computer 'closets' they just work,” he wrote. “Some have had disks replaced, the odd battery renewed, but they are still working.” The standard configuration for the server was an i486 CPU at 33Mhz and disks between 525MB and 4.3GB.

Another reader, “Sam”, told us that in 1985 he built an employee retirement plan app around a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet running on an IBM PC-XT.

“Much later, in 2005, I got a call from an old co-worker, now CIO of the company,” 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.

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.”

“Jake” told us about a recent event in his workplace, where it became necessary to reboot a DNS server at a remote disaster recovery location. 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.

“I was barely in High School when the box was purchased, but I was there for the reboot,” Jake says, if only because “The director of our Microsoft group went out there personally to do the reboot because he is the only person left on the windows side of the shop who was around back in those days.

The uptime shown when NT rebooted was 15 years, three months, 13 days.

Read that and weep, all of you who suffered with NT.

“Once upon a time that box was the primary domain controller for our business, and its still up there in service today, ready to serve internal DNS if the primary DR site DNS should fail just when we need it.”

“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.” Well, almost non-stop. The motherboard was replaced a dozen years ago, enabling an upgrade from a 166Mhz Pentium to a 500Mhz model.

“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. “Each server weighed about 50KG,” Igor wrote, and ran 24x7 since 1997, with restarts roughly an annual event. And maintenance introducing some exercise to sysadmins' days as they wrestled the bulky boxes.

Feel free to write and let me know about other long-lived boxes. Or perhaps you're running some ancient code? Either way, drop me a line. Let's keep this fun rolling. ®

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