Caught red handed

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Caught red handed

Postby SpidersWeb on Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:30 am

Well like most of you I've heard lots of stories of company's still using old equipment. One such story I remember was of a certain telecommunications company that had a major fault for several hours because one of their 386's had died.

But yesterday just by chance, I was going to the lift, and caught a man in a suit from a large technology company red handed, he was moving a good condition NEC Powermate 286 between floors. I checked, and yeah they certainly do use it and it still works! It just blows my mind that in 23 years they never replaced it, not even with a $5 Pentium IV unit...

Just wanted to share that, I never thought I'd find a semi-vintage machine like that in the lobby of my office being moved. The oldest I've found in my office was a Pentium (which I ran off with).

Now I just need to try and pry it from them, because my Powermate 286 needs a hard reset before it'll boot :P
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby tezza on Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:22 am

Yes, I'm sure some places still use old gear especially if there is a specific program/application/interface being used with it that can't be used with more modern machines.

Someone I know in the USA has a company dedicated to servicing just legacy machines (pentium 1s, 486s, 386s etc.).
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby manuka on Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:44 am

I get a little surprised with some of the requests we get in at work, we have a standing order with Canterbury Museum for any SCSI CD Roms we come across. They use them to run audio in their Victorian street display, every time they come in they tell me they need to update to something using this centurys tech. Also we get quite a few requests for 386 and 486 mobo's with ISA from firms running old CNC equipment that needs to run on DOS. and then we get you guys :wink:
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby Paul on Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:21 pm

tezza wrote:Yes, I'm sure some places still use old gear especially if there is a specific program/application/interface being used with it that can't be used with more modern machines.
Someone I know in the USA has a company dedicated to servicing just legacy machines (pentium 1s, 486s, 386s etc.).


Yes, there are a number of companies in the USA that stock old hardware in the hope that some government department will need to repair an old but still-useful software/hardware system. This is why you often see inflated prices on eBay for what appear to be worthless parts. The vendor has to stand behind their sales so it's acceptable value for money.

One of these guys frequented a flea market in SoCal years ago to sell off the excess. He told me that he had sold a dozen Sun Ultra 1 machines with no disks or RAM. I bought the remaining unit for $30 plus Sun ram for $2 per 256MB and several 2 GB SCA hard disks for $3 each.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby xjas on Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:49 pm

There was a rumour going a few years ago that NASA were buying virtually every 8088(6?)-based machine that popped up on Ebay... as spares for the Space Shuttles. Wonder how much truth there was to that?
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby SpidersWeb on Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:19 pm

I'd heard that too and google found me this http://www.geek.com/articles/chips/nasa ... -20020514/

Although it was a while ago. No idea what models or where they actually sourced them from though.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby TRS80 on Fri Dec 07, 2012 9:42 pm

The "fly by wire" computers on the Airbus A320 are based around the Intel 80186 and Motorola MC68010 chips. Admittedly the flight control computers are not "off the shelf" items but it shows that for many applications these older components play a critical role. There is probably little advantage in more modern parts other than availability.

Interesting reading at http://www.davi.ws/avionics/TheAvionicsHandbook_Cap_12.pdf

The Airbus A330 and A340 use the Intel 80386 and 80186 parts. Not sure about the A380.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby Carcenomy on Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:32 pm

We've got a few customers still using MSDOS systems for critical stuff. I try to convince them to move along for fear of being stuck but they often don't want to spend.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby arjoll on Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:06 pm

I've got one client who insists on running an MSDOS based accounting system that requires Novell Netware to run. It's damn scary stuff, he had a Pentium "server" (just a clone PC) blow up about 6 years ago so I replaced it with an ex-lease HP Vectra PIII. Had to scratch around to find a NIC that was supported by Netware 5, and then a year later the drive crashed! He's probably almost due for another drive crash, but every time I suggest upgrading he shrugs it off.

At least he has good backup now - a couple of years ago another local PC company tried selling him pen drives. Um, yeah, MSDOS 6.22 likes those things! I found an IDE SD/CF card reader, so they replace the card, reboot (MSDOS doesn't cope with drive D changing while it's running!) and backup. Better than two sets of 5 floppies each night.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby SpidersWeb on Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:54 am

I couldn't do anything, but yesterday I watched two mint condition tape drives leave an old local data centre.
And when I say tape drives I don't mean cassettes :( (well I guess they could've been audio recording, but I couldn't tell, was curious as hell)

With the DOS accounting, I'm guessing the motivation was financial, but I still swear that for data entry a well setup text interface is faster to work with. Type TAB Type TAB Type TAB ENTER repeat.
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Re: Caught red handed

Postby caluser2000 on Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:55 pm

A Compaq Deskpro 286 is used daily at work (aviation related). Does the job well. Came with an EGA card so I donated a VGA card so they could use an LCD monitor. Its not a matter of not having the funds to update,its just the the software that runs on it has no replacement for the hardware being tested. We also have a prop. balancer which is XT based. It does the job intended of it and is totally reliable.

A few bits n bobs came in a few weeks ago which includes a piece of test equipment with two 3.5" fdds and a small(10" or thereabouts) which has got my interest up. Some VAXs came with it.
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