Five things you can do with old computer equipment

Happy Halloween all! So – you have the vintage computer equipment, which seems to stretch as far forward as a circa 2003 PC. What can you do with that equipment? Several things, a few of which are listed below:

  1. Run older software on the machine it was designed for
    1. WordStar – several authors including George R. R. Martin and Andy Breckman still use it today
    2. Borland TurboPascal, Microsoft Visual Basic 6, FoxPro/Visual FoxPro are all still in use today, and that is not even mentioning the mainframe computers still almost literally powering our civilization
  2. Repurpose it to run some self-hosted tooling
    1. This one only applies to machines that are only ‘vintage enough’, like workstations produced after ~1995
    2. A good list for ideas would be this link
  3. Teach your juniors about the wonders of (retro) technology
    1. This one is a bit of a ‘preach to the choir’ moment, but it bears repeating. Many young people today only know smartphone apps, nothing of the electronic circuits, motherboards, cartridges and DIP switches of computing past that we used to create those smartphones
    2. Before all of our computers got super slow from all of our software bloat, they were quite snappy at times. Text-based interfaces can be faster to operate for expert users as well
    3. How many of the vintage equipment can access non World-Wide Web internet resources? Gopher, Usenet, & BBSes may not be mainstream any more, but they sure do impress!
  4. Play some games
    1. If the success of http://GOG.com is anything to go by, those retro video games are still quite fun even in their golden years, though most likely, you have the original discs/cartridges/tapes rather than requiring a download from the internet
  5. “Max out” the equipment
    1. Take whatever RAM and upgrades that the machine could handle in its prime and apply them. Sure, your Apple ][ may not be in its prime any more, but feed it an accelerator card like a Zip Chip II and you might see up to 8 MHz out of that puppy!

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