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Old Computers - why do people bother

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Nick Clarke 331/01/2020 11:37:36
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560 forum posts
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I appreciate that there is far too much waste of resources nowadays but as someone who uses a computer I am surprised how much time and heartache is spent trying to keep in service computers, printers and software that is basically time expired.

I know it is a shame when time comes to update a correctly operating but outdated computer, and also the expense updating some commercial programs in the home setting (eg Photoshop, Autocad), particularly if they have been bought when employed and now only used occasionally privately.

BUT

It is accepted that some things eg non-digital TVs and analogue phones just don't work anymore. Music is no longer available on cassettes, and rarely on vinyl, VHS and other video formats are no longer used. So why should computers be expected to last forever?

Awaiting the storm so going to 3D print a tin hat now!

Thor31/01/2020 11:58:52
1174 forum posts
33 photos

Well Nick, I do have a couple of old computers running Windows XP (dual boot with Linux), I keep the old computer because it enables me to run a few old programs that do the jobs I want. If I want to access the Internet on the old computer I simply reboot into Linux. For me and the work I do it is too expensive to buy a new computer/Operating system. It doesn't take any time to have the XP part running, I do occasionally update the Linux but that doesn't take much time.

Thor

Andrew Tinsley31/01/2020 11:58:59
987 forum posts

I have some scientific software that would cost well over £10,000 to buy today. I still use this programme and to do so requires me to have a computer that supports 5 1/4"inch floppies, uses a very early version of windows. and it also needs a parallel port output that drives a dot matrix printer.

So far, I have had no problem in keeping such an archaic system working. I would be quite happy to go over to the modern version of this programme, if Nick would like to fork out the £10,000 plus that would be required. Somehow, I don't think this will happen!

Andrew.

Circlip31/01/2020 12:01:50
1038 forum posts

Vinyl seems to be making a comeback for "True" audiophiles (together with the clicks and pops and k******d diamond tips) and someone has actually thought of resurrecting cassettes.

Regards Ian.

Emgee31/01/2020 12:36:05
1401 forum posts
212 photos

Like Andrew I also run some old software that will not work with W10 so my older machines are kept to run these programs as and when, also some external devices won't download or record data via a USB to Serial adaptor so still need Serial port working.
These old computers are never connected to the net so security is not a problem

Emgee

An Other31/01/2020 12:42:40
161 forum posts
1 photos

And you could ask why people keep restoring and using antique cars, and historic buildings, and even old lathes and mills, and.....cheeky

SillyOldDuffer31/01/2020 13:01:35
5338 forum posts
1090 photos

Most people would cheerfully buy new computers were it not for having to suss out legions of changes. Different look and feel, stuff moved or replaced, friendly features replaced with complicated gizmos, new options & jargon galore, privacy and security configuration in ruins, old certainties blasted into oblivion, the list is endless!

Upgrading is distinctly off-putting when that old computer does everything wanted of it. And not everyone has the time or inclination to plunge into unwanted new learning and several dozen new toy thingamajigs!

Dave

Neil Wyatt31/01/2020 13:23:31
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Sadly, old computers that run XP are needed to run some elderly CNC systems.

Also I still have my old BBC Master and a Model B, unused for about 10 years or more.

Neil

Mick B131/01/2020 13:34:16
1433 forum posts
77 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 31/01/2020 13:01:35:

Most people would cheerfully buy new computers were it not for having to suss out legions of changes. Different look and feel, stuff moved or replaced, friendly features replaced with complicated gizmos, new options & jargon galore, privacy and security configuration in ruins, old certainties blasted into oblivion, the list is endless!

Upgrading is distinctly off-putting when that old computer does everything wanted of it. And not everyone has the time or inclination to plunge into unwanted new learning and several dozen new toy thingamajigs!

Dave

Absolutely.

I spent 30 years in the MRP/ERP software industry, and the gobsmacking intellectual waste as each generation of software developers resolutely trashed the bodies of knowledge and specialised terminology built up in the previous one - and restarted from progressively less well-founded principles - was what characterised the whole period from my viewpoint. The MRP capabilities of the system I was working with at retirement were materially inferior to the first one I implemented in the 1980s.

So you'll forgive me if I consider the latest contortions being forced on consumers as just another twist of a self-serving fashion industry.

fizzy31/01/2020 13:59:48
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1690 forum posts
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The psu on my cnc computer expired yesterday, got to have serial port and xp to run my version of Mach3. £20 including postage for replacement pc off ebay....thats why some of us still need old computers.

Ady131/01/2020 14:20:33
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3571 forum posts
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xp pro is brill and runs everything from DOS upwards in 32bit mode

win7 pro has been fine so far for newer 64bit stuff

Baz31/01/2020 14:28:26
328 forum posts

I would love to have a nice new Windows 10 computer and if someone will tell me that I can definitely run Autocad and Solidworks 2006 on it I will go out and buy one. At present all Cad and Cam is on on XP, one mill runs on Windows 95 and the other on Windows 98.

Richard Marks31/01/2020 14:52:15
188 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by Circlip on 31/01/2020 12:01:50:

Vinyl seems to be making a comeback for "True" audiophiles (together with the clicks and pops and k******d diamond tips) and someone has actually thought of resurrecting cassettes.

Regards Ian.

Unfortunately modern vinyl is no better than a cd as it would be made in a digital form

Martin of Wick31/01/2020 15:02:27
185 forum posts
4 photos

Because in the world of personal computing it is debatable whether you are actually getting anything better. I have old machines that run the old software very well, but that doesn't raise money for the likes of Intel and microsloth.

So con the gullible punters by generating ever more bloated software with its attendant extra quotient of embedded spyware and 'oh well sir, you need the latest megadweeb special...' at some vast increase in cost to get the unwanted and generally useless features of the supposedly improved software.

It is all a right con, and resistance is definitely not futile.

Nick Clarke 331/01/2020 15:03:31
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560 forum posts
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I am not for one minute suggesting that old kit can still be made to work (or that using vintage computers and software is not a valid leisure activity a la vintage bikes etc) but my original question was not that.

If you need to use software that costs £10,000 then surely that is the price. If you have an older version you may have a bargain, but too many of the people I talk too (mainly not here I might add) seem to be saying the computer equivalent of:

I have this old car. it is not made any more. I can't get parts for it. Why can't I get parts for it? I want to play musicassettes but I can't buy them anymore. It needs leaded fuel - where can I buy it? It doesn't have an MOT but I want to keep using it and not buy a new car.

I know there are many enthusiasts who would get round all of these problems - but not if you only wanted to drive from A to B surely? You would spend (possibly a lot) of money on a new car.

So why do we expect old computers to keep serviceable? It can be a tragedy when they can no longer be used, but it will happen, just as it has happened to analogue mobile phones and pre-digital TVs - and the consequential loss to CAD and CAM kit is not the fault of the hardware or software supplier.

 

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 31/01/2020 15:30:01

old mart31/01/2020 15:07:36
1237 forum posts
115 photos

Old pc's running out of date operating systems are best kept off the internet. The increasing problem with them are the electrolytic capacitors failing on older motherboards and power supply units. It is possible to replace them, and the skills needed can be learned, and I recommend googling "madcaps forums", a very valuable source of expertise on the subject.

Ron Colvin31/01/2020 15:35:44
61 forum posts
4 photos

I am still using a 12 year old Dell computer that was hardly state of the art when I bought it.

The operating system is Windows Vista home. The only program that I have run on this , is Virtualbox.

On this virtual machine I have Autocad 2000 running under Windows 2000. Solidworks 2003 running on a separate Windows 2000, and Lubuntu for accessing the internet and running the few other office and graphics programs that I require (I used to run Ubuntu but later versions became too resource demanding).

This system still meets all my computing needs.

Iain Downs31/01/2020 16:23:49
559 forum posts
444 photos

A Thumbs up for Ron.

I have 'virtual' machines going back over 20 years - just in case I have to fix something I broke in the dawn of time (I was / am a sort of software developer).

All running on a machine that's *only* about 8 years old.

There is a con here. The word processor I was using in (say) 1985 did all the things I needed, as did the spreadsheet and presentation tool. Just what real value has the last 35 years brought?

Iain

Iain Downs31/01/2020 16:24:42
559 forum posts
444 photos

Oh and they were probably faster as well despite the 3 orders of magnitude of performance gain of the hardware.

Signed

Bitter Old Techie.

Nick Clarke 331/01/2020 17:33:41
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560 forum posts
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Posted by Iain Downs on 31/01/2020 16:24:42:

Oh and they were probably faster as well despite the 3 orders of magnitude of performance gain of the hardware.

Signed

Bitter Old Techie.

Like Moderator Neil I have a BBC Master here with View a quite capable word processor. I was not saying that old systems can't work, of course they can - it is merely the view that I have often heard expressed that "I have an old system so I must be able to keep it going no matter what" and "I bought this software x years ago and so hardware needs to be kept compatible for me to do so"

Why?

Things get superseded.

One price I saw for Autocad for example was £8500. If you have an older copy that needs older hardware why should any sensible business thinking of its shareholders go out of its way to enable you to continue to run it - that sells nothing - and if the software being sold today does not need hardware compatibility why should the hardware or OS people provide it?

Like many here I run a lot of old hardware and software - but I am realistic enough to realise that it can come to an end at any point and then the only way forward is to update or substitute for other perhaps cheaper and maybe less 'professional' choices.

As Pooh Bah said in the Mikado "I do it, It revolts me, but I do it!"

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