Thursday

Old Crock Computers Still Cranking

Sometimes, if something just works, then leave it alone - don't futz with it. Even at a time when two-year old technology is looked down upon, there are some really old computers and really old operating systems still getting it done.

If you’ve recently bought a MetroCard for the New York City Subway or taken money from certain older ATMs, for instance, your transaction was made possible by IBM’s OS/2, an operating system that debuted 25 years ago and faded out soon after.

A recent federal review found that the U.S. Secret Service uses a mainframe computer system from the 1980s. That system apparently works only 60 percent of the time. Here’s hoping that uptime statistics are better for the ancient minicomputers used by the U.S. Department of Defense for the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system, Navy submarines, fighter jets, and other weapons programs. Those systems, according to the consultants who help keep them going, will likely be used until at least the middle of this century.


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