Old Computer Challenge



  • The challenge: Take the oldest, most underpowered, decrepit piece of junk you can find, get it to load this thread, and take a picture of it (on a wooden table, if possible).

    The rules: The computer must speak TCP and HTTP directly to the web server. No translating proxies, remote access intermediaries, etc. PPP and SLIP servers are fine, as are plain old HTTP proxies if that's necessary for the machine to get out on port 80. So no shitty old Nokia phones running Opera Mini or a built in WAP/WML browser with a translating gateway (but shitty old Nokia phones running real HTTP/HTML browsers are fine). Note that the browser doesn't have to render the page correctly, though if you can find a CP/M web browser with proper CSS3 support, great.

    The goal: To get a good laugh, and make the web server logs bewilder Alex.

    I've got one to post shortly.



  • lol

    P75, 16MB RAM, Win95, old wireless card I scavenged from a 1st-gen AirPort base station. I haven't set the bar too high, so hopefully somebody posts something running MS-DOS, or a Pilot 1000 or something.



  • @db2 said:

    Note that the browser doesn't have to render the page correctly, though if you can find a CP/M web browser with proper CSS3 support, great.

    The goal: To get a good laugh,

     


    Does that mean a very old computer running damn small linux, a null modem connexion and wget are ok for the challenge?

     

    @db2 said:

    and make the web server logs bewilder Alex.


    You know you can do this by just changing your user agent, right?

     



  • @tchize said:

    Does that mean a very old computer running damn small linux, a null modem connexion and wget are ok for the challenge?

    Sure, go for it. As long as it's able to talk directly to the web server, and you're not just hooking a tty to netcat or something.

    @tchize said:

    You know you can do this by just changing your user agent, right?

    Yeah, but it's more fun this way.



  • I wish I still had that old Aptiva now. 120 glorious MHz with a whopping 12 Mb ram and a nearly infinite 1.2 Gb harddrive.



  • I have an old motherboard hanging on my wall for decoration. It has a 25 MHz 486SX and something like 4 MB RAM on it. I wish I had enough parts to get it up and running now!

    I wonder if I could use a SATA-to-IDE converter to plug a modern hard drive (or even SSD) into a 486...



  • Does a virtual machine count? If so, I'll install good ol' Windows 3.x and I'll have a shot. If not, I'll still do it anyway :P


    Also, seeing your old Toshiba laptop reminds me of the one I had years ago... a Toshiba T2200SX. Predated colour screens, optical drives, touchpads, nipple pointers and etc. Ran Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and PC-DOS... those were the days :D



  • @mott555 said:

    I wonder if I could use a SATA-to-IDE converter to plug a modern hard drive (or even SSD) into a 486...

    You can get Compact Flash to IDE adapters. That's what I'm running in this Libretto, actually (4 GB CF card).

    @Douglasac said:

    Does a virtual machine count? If so, I'll install good ol' Windows 3.x and I'll have a shot. If not, I'll still do it anyway :P

    Sure, but it's cooler with an old gimpy machine. At least try to run Virtual PC on something old, and give the guest OS like 4 MB RAM or something.

    @Douglasac said:

    Also, seeing your old Toshiba laptop reminds me of the one I had years ago... a Toshiba T2200SX. Predated colour screens, optical drives, touchpads, nipple pointers and etc. Ran Windows for Workgroups 3.11 and PC-DOS... those were the days :D

    I've also got a Toshiba Satellite T1960CS: 486DX, 50MHz, 12 MB RAM (uses a dedicated PCMCIA slot for DRAM expansion), and clip-on track ball. If I can find Windows 3.1 drivers for a Socket Low Power Ethernet card, I might give it a shot.



  • Sorry, all my old stuff has gone for recycling with the exception of a prehistoric 286 which is one big ball of rust by now. I really need to get rid of that.



  • @mott555 said:

    I have an old motherboard hanging on my wall for decoration. It has a 25 MHz 486SX and something like 4 MB RAM on it. I wish I had enough parts to get it up and running now!

    I wonder if I could use a SATA-to-IDE converter to plug a modern hard drive (or even SSD) into a 486...

    I have some spare RAM modules from an old 486 SX2 25Mhz ;)



  • @db2 said:

    Note that the browser doesn't have to render the page correctly

    Oh that makes it much easier, then.



  • The oldest thing I still have running is an enterprise-class tower powered by two 333 MHz Pentium processors. It runs whatever the second-most-recent Ubuntu LTS was. That's way overkill for a challenge like this, I'm afraid. I've also decked it out with about 700 or so GB of hard drive space. I still use it as my primary file server!! It works great!

    I have a Stinkpad from '93 or '94 (before Windows 95), but I ripped it apart to get at the cool light-bending LCD components. I'm pretty certain it was still in a bootable state when I decided to move on. Wish I could show it off now... Well, then again....



  • @db2 said:

    Sure, go for it.

     

    Don't have, was just asking.

     



  • @Vanders said:

    @db2 said:

    Note that the browser doesn't have to render the page correctly

    Oh that makes it much easier, then.

    That is awesome.



  • @mott555 said:

    25 MHz 486SX and something like 4 MB RAM on it.
    What, no floating point unit?

    Hahahahaha try getting the latest games to run on that loser.



  •  $5000 for a screenshot of a working assassin's creed on that one.



  • Thinking though which of my vintage computer collection might be able to do this..

    The first problem is that almost all of them predate the Internet. This means TCP/IP stacks and web browsers would need to be add-on software modules. Several are so old they predate most networking technologies. So here is the systems in reverse date order...

    The easiest one would probably be the NeXT Cube, as this has most of the components in place (as well as being where the web was invented): this is 1990 onward (not sure what year mine is). I'd have to get it down from the attic, set it up and figure out how to break into it (I bought it as-is with an existing OS setup but no usernames or passwords for the system).

    I have several old Macs - a couple of 512Ks, one 128K and an SE. A quick Google search suggests this would be possible if I had another Mac with both AppleTalk and ethernet (which I don't). But system 7 would run on the SE so in theory that might work. An alternative might be to plug a modem into it via serial and use dial-up networking to my network via the phone system (old-skool!). Don't have any Mac modems though. It would have to be the SE - I'm not loading it from FDD!

    Going back a bit further I've got two (or possibly three?) IBM PCs: one 5150 and one/two XTs (I think?). One of these might have an ethernet card in them, or I could plug a modem into the serial port. I think I have a couple of old modems about. For the software MS Windows isn't an option (except Windows 1.x) - these are 8086 and 8088 CPUs so it would need to be a DOS-based web browser and TCP/IP stack (they do exist). Tricky but not impossible.

    Several more eclectic/British models I don't think could do it are the Dragon 32, Sharp MZ80B and MZ80K, the Video Genie and a Research Machines RM80Z, so we'll skip those. I did think about the Sinclair/Timex ZX80, but I'm not sure how the networking would be achieved. Writing a "web browser" could be done in the ZX80's BASIC interpreter, but as it only has 1KB of RAM I'm not sure it would be achievable.

    Next up are two Commodore PETs, a 2001 and a 3032. These have an IEEE 488 interface so something may be possible to hook into that, but I've no idea what.

    My TRS-80 Model I does not have a serial port but I think I have an expansion interface for this, which may do. So we'd plug that into a modem, and then use this project as a base to network it.

    Finally it's almost certain that my Apple ][e would be able to do this given the number of mods, boards and hobbyist stuff out there.



  •  You win - I couldn't get my cardboard box computer w/ win98 to connect to the internet.

     



  • Don't ask me why I have an industrial machine controller lying around...

    The forums don't even look that bad under Lynx- *is shot*



  • @MiffTheFox said:

    Don't ask me why I have an industrial machine controller lying around...

    Pretty impressive. Care to give us a vintage?



  • @MiffTheFox said:

    Don't ask me why I have an industrial machine controller lying around...

    The forums don't even look that bad under Lynx- *is shot*

    Is the cable set on the "C" note as a subtle geek joke or am I just high on espresso?



  • Can you get it to work on Famicom?



  • @Speakerphone Dude said:

    Is the cable set on the "C" note as a subtle geek joke or am I just high on espresso?
     

    ... I think the AC frequency of the output is what powers the machine.



  • @MiffTheFox said:

    Don't ask me why I have an industrial machine controller lying around...
     

    Thread winner... going once!

    going twice!



  • Industrial machine controllers are usually just PCs in really weird cases with (very) custom peripherals. So it behooves me to ask what hardware it has. I bet it's at least a 486 if it's running Linux - could be a 386 I suppose.

    So I'm currently trying to resurrect a Mac IIcx (16MHz 68030+68882, 8MB RAM tops) for the challenge. I've got all the hardware together and plugged it in, but I might need to find a live PRAM battery (there might be a weak one in my G5) and I might have to update/reinstall the OS (the IIcx will run System 7.5.5 which should be enough to support Netscape). Noteworthy is that it already has an Ethernet card, which should make things considerably easier than setting up a *second* old Mac to act as an AppleTalk IP bridge (which would still count because those are real IP packets being tunnelled over AppleTalk/LocalTalk).

    Of course if anyone actually manages to get a DOS stack running, then I'll have to dig out the Amstrad luggable - 8086, 512KB RAM, dual double-density floppy drives, no hard disk, CGA graphics. Not 100% certain it still works though - it was showing signs of a hairline board fracture last time I used it.



  • @db2 said:

    PPP and SLIP servers are fine
     

    I used to use a Compaq Contura over null-modem cable to another 486-class computer running Linux (ip masqurading) which also shared the 33.6k modem over thinnet to a 386DX-40. The 386 could run Windows 95 (just) but the 100MB HDD didn't like it and would corrupt after a few weeks of use. I couldn't enable 32-bit disk access (or was it "file access"?) in Windows 3.11 either, for the same reason.

    I still have the Contura somewhere but I don't think it works any more. :-( I'll have to pull it out and see: it did acquire a PCMCIA 802.11b card since 1999 so maybe I'll be able to get it onto wifi. (Brand of the card is Skynet Global. Maybe I shouldn't power it up? ;-)



  • @Chromatix said:

    Of course if anyone actually manages to get a DOS stack running, then I'll have to dig out the Amstrad luggable - 8086, 512KB RAM, dual double-density floppy drives, no hard disk, CGA graphics.
     

    Nettamer is what you'll need for that. Or Arachne. Or have I let too many cats out of the bag?



  • This almost makes me want to get out my old PC Convertible to see if I can get it to boot.



  • Guyz I think I got it figured out on my Atari 2600 but since it only has 128 bytes of RAM it has to swap like 47 times just to load the header of a single TCP/IP packet, so I won't be able to take a screenshot for a few months.



  • @Zemm said:

    @Chromatix said:

    Of course if anyone actually manages to get a DOS stack running, then I'll have to dig out the Amstrad luggable - 8086, 512KB RAM, dual double-density floppy drives, no hard disk, CGA graphics.
     

    Nettamer is what you'll need for that. Or Arachne. Or have I let too many cats out of the bag?

    I'm seriously considering whether setting that up - including wiring up the modem, dummy phone line and a PPP server - will be more or less trouble than coaxing the IIcx back to life. I've already resigned myself to digging out a second old Mac just to make the install floppies.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     I have an IBM PC, XT and PC AT in the basement. Yeah, the entire family minus the godforsaken PCJr. It would be positively trivial to toss an NE2000 NIC into one of the ISA slots (yeah, just jam a 16bit ISA card into an 8bit ISA slot. It'll actually fucking work. No shit.) and stick Minix on them (or figure out how to do TCP/IP from galactically ancient DOS). Problem: I binned my last NE2000 ages ago.

    I also have a Tandy 1000TL.



  • @Chromatix said:

    @Zemm said:

    @Chromatix said:

    Of course if anyone actually manages to get a DOS stack running, then I'll have to dig out the Amstrad luggable - 8086, 512KB RAM, dual double-density floppy drives, no hard disk, CGA graphics.
     

    Nettamer is what you'll need for that. Or Arachne. Or have I let too many cats out of the bag?

    I'm seriously considering whether setting that up - including wiring up the modem, dummy phone line and a PPP server - will be more or less trouble than coaxing the IIcx back to life. I've already resigned myself to digging out a second old Mac just to make the install floppies.

    I tried getting my HP 200LX to play ball (80186, 640 KB RAM, 1.4 MB on-board storage, DOS 5.0 in ROM). I put WWW/LX on there, but didn't have any luck turning my Win 7 machine into a PPP/SLIP server. Granted, I didn't spend a great deal of time attempting it.



  • Gah, second old Mac (a Quadra 840AV) turned out to be even more sensitive to dead PRAM battery than the first - no video. Worse, the battery on that one is even less accessible - would have to remove the whole m/board, I think, and I've forgotten how to do that.

    Any bets on whether old Mac number 3 (a PowerMac 8100 with a G3 upgrade) will work? Bear in mind this is the last example I have which is capable of both mounting a .smi image and writing the contents to a real, physical floppy disk.



  • @Weng said:

     I have an IBM PC, XT and PC AT in the basement. Yeah, the entire family minus the godforsaken PCJr. It would be positively trivial to toss an NE2000 NIC into one of the ISA slots (yeah, just jam a 16bit ISA card into an 8bit ISA slot. It'll actually fucking work. No shit.) and stick Minix on them (or figure out how to do TCP/IP from galactically ancient DOS). Problem: I binned my last NE2000 ages ago.

    I also have a Tandy 1000TL.

    I can round out your family with the IBM PCjr with the PCjr color monitor.  Expanded to dual floppy and 640KB with a Racore expansion module.  Also has a little flip switch on the back to switch between "PCjr mode" and "PC Mode".  Never fully understood the difference, but it did make a difference at times with some programs.  Cartridge BASIC to boot.

    My claim to fame is, when Wynn Wagner's Opus-CBCS BBS said it needed a 10 MB hard drive in order to run, I managed to trim it down and run it off two floppies plus a RAM disk.  I don't think I ran BinkleyTerm as a front end, but I had some Echomail groups and files for download.  If the machine rebooted for whatever reason, I had to do a couple of manual steps to get it up again.  But it did work.  On a PCjr.  That's also the machine on which I expanded past BASIC to assembly, Pascal, and C.

     



  • @Weng said:

    I have an IBM PC, XT and PC AT in the basement. Yeah, the entire family minus the godforsaken PCJr.
    So it's you who caused it to fail.


     



  • @db2 said:

    P75, 16MB RAM, Win95, old wireless card I scavenged from a 1st-gen AirPort base station. I haven't set the bar too high, so hopefully somebody posts something running MS-DOS, or a Pilot 1000 or something.

    Makes me wish I still had my old 1987 vintage 386sx: 16MHz, no FPU, 4 Meg RAM and a 40gig HDD. For years it ran DOS and Windows 3.1 but it's finest hour came when we put a network card in it and installed Windows 95. I never thought it would ever see the light of teh internets, but it did, albeit using IE4. I wish I was as easily amused these days.

     



  • @Weng said:

    or figure out how to do TCP/IP from galactically ancient DOS
    With above-linked Arachne, just load a packet driver, and run Arachne's setup program - it should work (unless there's not enough RAM to load Arachne - I don't remember what it's requirements are).



  • @Weng said:

    Problem: I binned my last NE2000 ages ago.

     I do have one, give me your postal address, and it'll find its way :-)

     



  • lolwut

    It took several minutes to transfer the ~200KB page over the 19200 bps serial PPP link, and then another minute or two to render the page.

    I really hope somebody can beat this. I want to see a Psion Organiser II browsing the web.



  • It should be theoretically possible to do this on a VAX, assuming you can find a VAX that's capable of running VMS 5.3. Assuming a VAX-11/780 is capable (I don't know), that would get you back as far as 1977.



  • @Vanders said:

    It should be theoretically possible to do this on a VAX, assuming you can find a VAX that's capable of running VMS 5.3. Assuming a VAX-11/780 is capable (I don't know), that would get you back as far as 1977.

    Now we just have to find somebody that's got one in the garage. This seems like the kind of site where that could happen.



  •  DOA's Law: The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved.

     

    There, my legacy is secure.



  • @DOA said:

     DOA's Law: The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved.

    There, my legacy is secure.

    You need more than DOA's Law.  You need an of clause to go with it.  I recommend DOA's Law of Old Hardware until you can come up with a cheecky or clever name for the law.



  • @DOA said:

     DOA's Law: The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved.

     

    There, my legacy is secure.

    Funny enough, I just moved three years ago, but I've still got the Vic-20 my family owned way back in 1984 or so. Just built a new A/V cable for it earlier this year, in fact. (No, I'm pretty sure I can't get it running a web browser, though I do own a 300 bps modem for it for some reason.)



  • I used to work at a place when I was in college that used open vms on some crazy huge alpha hardware... (yes this place ended in .gov) :)

    I had a dec alpha multia somewhere.... ... ... hmm may have to look around for that :)



  • I have, after a bit of tinkering, managed to get the PowerMac 8100 running, despite a distinct shortage of live PRAM batteries (I've ordered some, but they will take weeks to arrive, sigh). Unfortunately for the purposes of this thread, it is considerably more powerful than the mini-laptop shown by the OP - the more so since it has a 400MHz G3 upgrade fitted - but it is capable of converting StuffIt/DiskCopy images into real floppy disks, so it's a big step towards bringing up the IIcx anyway. Nevertheless, it renders the forum thread remarkably well, considering that the ArsTechnica site is all but unusable in that old version of Mozilla.

    Meanwhile the IIcx is showing a distressing tendency to turn off it's own power after a couple of minutes' running. I think it needs a *fresh* PRAM battery, rather than one that has been coddled in a G5 for 7 years. Nevertheless, I got it to boot for long enough to confirm that it only has 5MB RAM and a 40MB hard disk - and System 7.1. There's an outside chance that a web browser (probably an ancient version of Netscape) is already there, so I just need to make it run for long enough to find and launch it.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @DOA said:

    DOA's Law: The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved.
    I don't move much (and with my recent investment in a backyard construction project to enable one of my life goals that seems massively unlikely for the foreseeable future), but I do keep a packing priority for emergencies. I would need 2 53ft trucks and 1 (full) twin-deck car carrier to do it all in one pass, and the old hardware is on the first truck. Most people find moving a hassle - I just throw logistics at the problem.



  • @JimLahey said:

    Makes me wish I still had my old 1987 vintage 386sx: 16MHz, no FPU, 4 Meg RAM and a 40gig HDD. For years it ran DOS and Windows 3.1 but it's finest hour came when we put a network card in it and installed Windows 95. I never thought it would ever see the light of teh internets, but it did, albeit using IE4. I wish I was as easily amused these days.

     

    I'm sure you mean 40meg hard drive; I remember in 1992 replacing the 80Mb HDD my 486 with a 212Mb monster... And what joy when I put in a CD burner - I could actually free up some space on the hard drive, at 40 minutes per 600Mb CD-R, and a 25% success rate!



  • @Anketam said:

    You need more than DOA's Law.  You need an of clause to go with it.  I recommend DOA's Law of Old Hardware until you can come up with a cheecky or clever name for the law.
    I'm a software developer, you expect me to come up with a good name for anything?@db2 said:
    Funny enough, I just moved three years ago, but I've
    still got the Vic-20 my family owned way back in 1984 or so.
    Keep ruining it with your edge case and I'll change it to "The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved divided by the size of your penis".



  • @DOA said:

    @Anketam said:
    You need more than DOA's Law.  You need an of clause to go with it.  I recommend DOA's Law of Old Hardware until you can come up with a cheecky or clever name for the law.
    I'm a software developer, you expect me to come up with a good name for anything?@db2 said:
    Funny enough, I just moved three years ago, but I've still got the Vic-20 my family owned way back in 1984 or so.
    Keep ruining it with your edge case and I'll change it to "The age of the oldest hardware you own is proportional to the amount of time that has passed since you last moved divided by the size of your penis".
    Well dhromed should have no problem now coming up with a creative name for your law.


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