For me, the oldest piece of technology that I still use on a daily basis is probably an RCA speaker system that I bought with my own cold-hard cash when I was in junior high about 10 years ago. The HP 3000 series of minicomputers were released in 1972, and featured such revolutionary concepts as an operating system, RISC processors, and you could easily interface with the mainframes of time and large storage arrays. What are the oldest file formats still in use? This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. The computational processes themselves, carried out by relays, was very slow — somewhere on the order of 5 or 10 seconds to multiply two numbers. Even a twenty old computer can manage that. The Apple IIe was the third generation series of Apple personal computers that was launched in 1983. This question came up on Slashdot the other day and I wasn't really satisfied with the answers being given. on Feb 8, 2015 at 07:26 UTC. According to the company, the old C64 isn’t in use as the main display unit anymore, as it has been replaced something of a more modern nature. Between 1973 and 1997 it was on display at a museum in Birmingham, and then it disappeared into storage, only to be discovered by chance in 2009. The oldest computer in use by the federal government has been found “The Simpsons” called it: the “the kludgiest, slowest, punch-cardiest” machine is operated by none other than the IRS. You may be asking yourself why all these organisations, especially the ones that look after an arsenal of scary weaponry, are using such antiquated technology? Apparently, according to those who used these systems in their military setting, there were two ways in which you could boot the machine: one was by using paper tape, and the other was by flipping a sequence of switches which emulated the sequence that would be on the tape. All told, the WITCH had 40 banks of 8 dekatrons, meaning it could store up to 40 8-digit numbers. The oldest computer I still have up and running is ZX Spectrum +2A which is a late model, made after Sinclair's computer business was acquired by Amstrad, but it's still pretty nice to have and it's as close to the original as I can get. The other is in storage and will be used in case the main Apple ever becomes faulty. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our, ET Deals: Dell Vostro 13 5301 11th Gen Intel Core i5 Laptop for $699, iRobot Roomba i6+ 6550 Self Emptying Robot Vacuum for $549, The Best Outdoor Tech for Socializing in Cold Weather, Meteorite Fragment Points to Missing Dwarf Planet in Early Solar System, Take a Step Towards a Career in IT and Cybersecurity for Less Than $40, NASA Begins Planning Mars Sample Return Mission, World’s oldest original digital computer is turned back on after 61 years. Main Use: Artificial intelligence, air-defense systems, computer blackjack. So much so, that the National Weather Service in the US bought several, complete with the Winchester Storage Facility, when they started to interpret weather patterns based on the data sent from weather balloons. The oldest computer still in use by the U.S. government appears to be the on-board systems for the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes -- nearly 40 years old, and 12.47 billion miles away from earth. The PDP (Programmed Data Processor) range of minicomputers, although mini in comparison to the monstrous mainframes, made by the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), was one of the most successful machines of its age. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. That skill is still alive and well today, as it happens. We actually mean that you need to plug wires into it to make the thing operate the way you want it to. These systems are still in use today, in fact there’s even a company, which the US military hires, who specialises in using modern hardware to emulate the HP 3000 based missile system. It used an Orthogonal Instruction Set that directly addressed areas of the computer’s memory, and featured hardware interrupts on several priority levels which, when triggered, could fire off different software routines on magnetic tape (the old 270mm reels), depending on what caused the trigger in the first place. It does make you assess though, why we need such powerful and expensive machines. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. Which is probably why it’s still in use today as a part of the US Navy’s ship radar systems and, as rumoured, at work within the British Atomic Weapons Establishment. The Harwell Dekatron / WITCH clattering back into life at The National Museum of Computing on 20 November 2012. Those were the home computers though, the entertainment side of computing if you will. The oldest computer program still in use From SusoSight. (Last year NASA put out a call for a FORTRAN programmer to upgrade the probes' software.) However, it’s still being kept as the backup unit for those times when the current model fails. Those were the real computers of the time. General Hardware . From Abacus to Kaypro 2X, and all of the computers in between, find out how much you know about the history of computers. So here are a few more instances where the modern world around is being controlled by something that was designed and built thirty-plus years ago. There are apparently 36 million pagers/beepers still in use today. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Allegedly, the likes of NORAD in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the Raven rock Alternate Command Centre (Site R), Area 51, Mount Weather and many other places of a black ops nature have a doomsday scenario backup Ham computer interface setup up and running. The DEC MicroVAX 3100 in question, the actual model number is unknown, has been busy working in the Hecla Mining Company since it was purchased in 1987. UCLA still has, and uses, an IBM System/360 mainframe. Posted by Shasha Neil. Subscribe Today to get the latest ExtremeTech news delivered right to your inbox. The DEC MicroVAX range of minicomputers were the lower end and more affordable of the minicomputer series. David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. I complained about people giving anecdotal evidence like "banks and government institutions have old computers". © 1996-2020 Ziff Davis, LLC. In fact, many of the great Ham radio enthusiasts moved into computing in the ‘70s and ‘80s thanks to their electronics genius. From 1970s minicomputers used for military programs (including nuclear weapons) to an IBM punch-card system still keeping the books at a Texas filter supplier, these are the computers … Longevity is the key here, which is probably why the US government’s IRS still uses it. PCMag Digital GroupExtremeTech is among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis, LLC and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. One of the most recently developed tape drives can squeeze a modest 185TB of data on to its layer of superfine crystal particles, and it’s said to last for at least sixty years. Well, in most instances the answer is simple: it just works. If you want to find the oldest computers in government, then you might as well just wait until government up and decides to find them all itself. 296,000 years from now it will go cruising a mere 4.3 light years away from Sirius, computer turned off, but the components still preserved in the vacuum of space. They were constructed in an age where this disposable society of ours was unheard of, where every conceivable part of the machine could be repaired by a skilled engineer. We know how you feel fellow Hammer, or whatever you call yourselves. Linguistic Equivalent: Sanskrit. They even use an IBM 029 punch card machine to enter the data with into the IBM 402. He also has a huge collection of cables. The oldest tech still in use was found in … Somewhere, in deepest darkest Alaska, this ancient minicomputer is attached to a scale that automatically inputs weights into calculation tables, calculates silver and gold ounce per ton values for raw ore sample with flux corrections (yeah, we have no idea what that means either); creates work lists for sample sets and inserts a replicate every 50 samples, and it prints sticky labels on to an equally aged printer. Wonder what the reception up there is like? You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. Its main use is to read the old antique (now obsolete) tapes from very old customer systems so that we can get their old applications when we upgrade them to a new system. The minute you start to include a more sophisticated system, with a higher software level other than on or off, yes or no, there then becomes more room for failure. All radio-like valves, pulsing and expanding like a vertical crop of transparent onions, complete with little pops and crackles, beeps and the continual thrum of overworked machinery. The US Secret Services allegedly still uses an IBM mainframe from the 70s. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. Indeed, old technology refuses to die off. It’s important to note what’s meant by “system” here. Anyway, the IBM 402 first appeared in the late ‘40s, 1948 is quoted in some instances, and consists of a kind of breadboard setup on to which you would wire up connections to perform certain operations. The result was extremely successful, and as accurate as you can get. Part of the US nuclear weapons facilities, spread across the country, uses 5.25 floppy disk. A bus company in Brisbane, the MYER Centre Bus Terminal to be exact, used, up until 2010, a C64 as their main monitor display for the bus timetable. In addition to the countless government computers that still run the operating system, there are at least seven machines accessible from the outside Internet running in 2017 that still use … We’re quite guilty of looking back through rose tinted glasses at the computers we remember in our youth. It used an Orthogonal Instruction Set that dir… The world’s oldest, original, still-working digital computer has been unveiled at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, the home of the United Kingdom’s Second World War … > > >1: What is the oldest computer or comptuer system still in normal > > >operational use Define what you mean by "Oldest Computer or Computer System". Your IP address 198.71.238.8 has been flagged for potential security violations. What they used to have was a bank of magnetic tapes, storing a single database which needed to be accessed via a COBOL created interface. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. It is also known for being used in low latency applications. The point being, they can still coordinate and contact other surviving bases while keeping a chain of command. 10 Ancient computers that are still in use today. Presumably this is in case of some form of Armageddon, be that nuclear, alien invasion, zombie apocalypse, and any other Hollywood scenario you can think of. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. One good one is to say the computers onboard some of the oldest spacecrafts like Pioneer 10 (1972), Voyager I and II (1977). I have a lot of fond memories of that machine…programming, electronics, all sorts of neat stuff. Written by Allan Lasser. Edited by JPat Brown. What it lacked in speed, though, it made up for in accuracy and perseverance — WITCH didn’t make mistakes, and it could be left alone for hours or days without any human interaction. The New York subway Metro Card system still uses OS/2. The military gets too much cash not to swap their > > > equipment out every decade at the latest so I rule them out. One post talks about some old IBM Series 1's and S/360/30. They were actually tabulating machines, which to quote Wikipedia is ‘an electromechanical machine designed to assist in summarising information’. Other > > > branches only upgrade after every user who knows how to run the system > > > is dead/retired. Being one of the oldest computers, this is also one of the first computers used for the purpose of war. We have another PDP whose only purpose in life is to provide spare parts to the one we keep running. This then is probably why the Department of Defence used them as test machines for the HARM missiles that were fitted in aircraft carriers in the mid-eighties. Whether you call them trams, light rails, or streetcars, in the early to mid-19th century… Read More. It started life in 1970, and was one of the world’s first 16-bit word addressed machines, and proved to be blisteringly fast in its operation and remarkably stable. Good times! These systems are designed in such a way that they rarely fail. Furthermore, if you’re an engineer working for the Minuteman ICBM system, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll come across a VAX11/780 as part of the control and test systems. 10 Oldest Programming Languages Still in Use. Magnetic tape was first used to store data in 1951, and was capable of storing 128 characters per inch on eight tracks. 10 Oldest Street Railway Systems in the World. The truth though was that these were excellent, hardwearing machines. And if you’re in control of something that can effectively wipe all life, other than cockroaches, off the face of the planet, then even a small chance of failure is something you really don’t want. The oldest one I still use on a regular basis is an . The article claims “oldest still in use”, not “oldest”. And by wire up, we don’t just mean programming. Now, decades later, they are still being used. And as we said earlier, they were made in a time where repairing a system was the norm instead of scrapping it and buying a newer model. The computer, originally called Harwell but now called the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell (WITCH), was originally powered up in 1951 (pictured above). It was quite the bee’s knees. This final entry is certainly an interesting use of old technology in a modern setting. System still uses OS/2 third generation series of Apple personal computers that probably! Technology in a modern setting, it ’ s often Easy to that... 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