12 examples of old tech that never dies


The tech globe frequently appears to be like an infinite parade of astonishingly new tips, architectures, languages, and devices. It also from time to time happens that a at the time-new detail sticks about a little bit far too extended. Maybe a gadget simply would not wear out. Maybe the disruptive alternative never ever reveals up. Once in a while, the great replacement turns out to be not very as superior as the old standby.

Let us celebrate these artifacts of the pc industry that steadfastly deliver—day in and day out, 12 months just after 12 months, some of them for decades. Positive, they could possibly not have flashy conferences named just after them, or make their big debut in an overhyped IPO, but they do what they’re meant to do.

Here’s a search at some of the finest aged tech that in no way dies. Strategies and things—chips, applications, languages—that somehow skipped the cue to depart the stage. Oh, we may possibly not recognize them a lot any more. Often we even fail to remember they are there. But this aged tech keeps operating on, sleek and unremarkable. Consider it a tribute to the perfect of sound engineering, and maybe a reminder that superior technological know-how does not always will need to be replaced each individual number of many years.

The Z80 chip

The Z80 processor chip began in 1974 as an offshoot of the wildly productive Intel 8080. It was a competing chip that made available excess registers and a lot more instructions but was mostly binary suitable with the 8080. Developers could run their aged 8080 code or tweak it with the excess characteristics to be a little bit speedier.

Although Intel moved on to generate even bigger, superior, and insanely speedier x86 chips, Zilog’s Z80 continued to thrive in less noticeable niches like microcontrollers. Nowadays, brands who want to insert a secure microprocessor with a deep, prosperous collection of libraries can decide on concerning a range of solutions both from Zilog and from second and 3rd sources. And for all those who want to construct on the tradition, some makers like Toshiba have slowly but surely expanded the line by adding wider buses and fatter registers.

Video game emulators

Anyone who would like to enjoy previous video online games can flip to a selection of open up supply emulators that let us operate the authentic code on present day devices. There are good implementations of well-liked platforms like Super Nintendo but you can also find much more obscure frameworks like the Commodore Amiga. Some builders have even uncovered a way to operate the code in the ROMs in popular arcade games. Guaranteed, the newer video games render their very first-person heroes in a way that lets you really feel just about every sweaty pore, but there’s a thing timelessly gratifying about successful a recreation rendered in ASCII on a terminal screen.


A shocking substantial number of software program packages that have been written for the authentic Home windows proceed to sail on. 1 these types of application is PuTTY, applied to set up an SSH link. I routinely use PuTTY to log in to cloud equipment. It can even even now initiate the authentic SUPDUP login protocol that dates from the ’70s and ’80s. A smaller group of volunteers maintains the first code, which was at first introduced in 1999. The easiest way to use PuTTY is to download an exe.


It’s possible it truly is not precisely reasonable to contact FreeDOS old tech. Why, just this year somebody additional a new model of Edlin, the common line-primarily based file-modifying program. And which is not all: a variety of new and revised variations of old command-line code are now aspect of FreeDOS. But the ongoing progress does not improve the truth that the venture is devoted to preserve-alive DOS, the command line, and plans that run on it. If you’ve acquired some old DOS computer software that you want to preserve employing, FreeDOS is one of the easiest ways to do it. Get a vacation back in time and appreciate the fast, responsive entire world of DOS. In this article, you can be sure your cursor will never turn into a spinning, unresponsive ball. A cursor will be a cursor, as it must be.

BSD Unix

Right after Bell Labs developed Unix, a quantity of clones started appearing. When AT&T attempted to exert command around the mental residence, a intelligent band of programmers wrote their possess variations of the typical command-line utilities and produced them underneath the now ubiquitous Berkeley Application Distribution (BSD) license.

Right now, this code is generally observed throughout the Linux globe in distributions by Crimson Hat or Ubuntu. A stable main however life below the title of BSD, and holds to numerous of the conventions that had been initial established at Berkeley. Versions like OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and NetBSD nonetheless run rapid, easy, and light.

IBM Computer keyboards

IBM’s to start with own pc arrived with a Product M keyboard that remains a person of the most liked possibilities for communicating with a computer. When IBM stopped creating that model of keyboard in 1996, a number of genuine believers took the tooling and set up Unicomp, specializing in typical Laptop keyboards. Now, you can get brand name new versions of the keyboards you like, but with more present day electronics that discuss to newer PCs. More recent mechanical keyboards have their strengths, and they appear in varieties with diverse stages of clickiness, but there is however very little as strong and effective as the initial Product M.


This program initially arrived in 1984, and it is aided experts and engineers multiply matrices at any time given that. MATLAB has improved drastically above the decades, and now supports object-oriented programming and graphical interfaces. But at its main, MATLAB is nevertheless a programming system for creating and examining large matrices.

Magnetic tape

You may assume that spinning tape drives went out of trend just after the 1960s, just like the skinny ties and miniskirts worn by business workers in that working day. Even though transferring magnetic tape does not command the identical percentage of the marketplace that it once did, some men and women however love the technological innovation. It can be straightforward to ship or retailer, and it is substantially extra steady than Flash chips. It is also not fairly accurate to say that the present drives are the very same old technological know-how: Just after all, tape corporations ha
ve integrated lots of of the similar improvements that tough disk brands use to produce their beautiful densities. One new structure, the LTO-8 released in 2017, is said to retail store 12 terabytes on a tape. Yet another from IBM, the 3592 Jaguar, can hold 10 terabytes. That’s not poor in contrast to the outdated floppy disks.


Extensive before Twitter and SMS, health professionals, stockbrokers, and everyone else who necessary to be reachable relied on a radio paging technique capable of broadcasting just a couple of digits. Newer selections like WhatsApp operate more than mobile cell phone networks or the common web. They may supply multimedia gloss and the capability to incorporate a photograph or an emoji, but they never provide the identical dependability.

Which is why doctors, nurses, and EMTs continue to use pagers for critical conversation. Just one of the nation’s biggest paging programs statements it’s nevertheless processing 100 million messages each and every thirty day period. Pager corporations haven’t sat however, possibly. More recent versions supply encryption and HIPAA protections, and some even let two-way communication. But at the core is the identical standard, trusted gadget that debuted in the 1970s.

SQL databases

Oracle unveiled the first professional SQL database in 1979. Microsoft released its SQL database in the 1980s. PostgreSQL and MySQL adopted in the 1990s. Other database styles have occur together because, but most programmers even now publish SQL queries. That’s why the small business prepare for businesses like Google, Amazon, Neon, and PlanetScale—to title just a few—amounts to repackaging a basic SQL databases as a support.

To be reasonable, some cloud databases platforms give substantial modifications, like separating the logic from the storage layer to velocity up sure sorts of queries and support massively scalable storage. But from a programmer’s standpoint, an SQL databases in the cloud looks no unique from the exact outdated interface they’ve been using for yrs. Developers might not really like SQL, but we know it and recognize it, and we keep coming again to it.

ARM processors

The ARM architecture was a person of the standard chips that emerged all through the RISC revolution of the 1980s. Now, nearly 40 yrs later, ARM cores are located pretty significantly just about everywhere. They are in embedded machines like the Raspberry Pi units that started appearing in 2012. They’re also in the top-of-the-line Apple MacBook Professionals, albeit in a pretty different sort. No matter what condition it usually takes, ARM’s straightforward architecture has proved to be remarkably agile. It is used to create some of the most effective chips with the finest ratio of computing electrical power created to electric powered ability consumed.

IBM mainframes

There could be no higher instance of an previous standby than the flagship computer system from the corporation that designed and led the laptop or computer marketplace via the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. IBM constructed its to start with mainframe in 1952, about 70 several years in the past. It’s entirely achievable that some of that very same code—originally developed applying punch cards—still runs right now in some form or type. If you’ve at any time questioned why COBOL builders are nevertheless in desire, blame the IBM mainframe. Numerous corporations are nevertheless operating the same dependable stack of logic that doesn’t dress in out.

The mainframe’s running method and languages have been enhanced and augmented above the many years, but significantly of the code concepts have not transformed. There’s a cause why IBM shoppers like the prime financial institutions keep on to have on. Possibly they are laughing quietly to on their own as money tech companies appear and go, bragging as they do about their modern day software and languages.

There really is anything about previous tech that by no means dies.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.


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