Using A 30-Year-Old Computer For Today’s Functions

In PCWorld, Benj Edwards explains how he booted up a dusty 1981 IBM 5150 and attempted to perform typical 21st century computing duties on it. The 5150 fared pretty well at most essential tasks, including lolcat browsing (below left) and Twitter (below right). The lesson being, perhaps, that we should try to do more with less? And that today’s consumer-market computers can’t hold a candle to classic models in regards to appearance and style. The old ones even have ports for hooking up cassette tape players:

Despite the malfunctioning RAM, the machine seemed to work well. The 5150 contains, as the Apple II did, a full version of BASIC in ROM that loads right up if you don’t boot from a disk.

Targeted mostly at computers without floppy drives (the lowest-priced 5150 sold with 16KB of RAM and no drives), this version of BASIC could save programs only to cassette tapes.

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  • Jin The Ninja

    i would NEVER cop to being a tech geek in r/t but vintage electronics (atari, neo geo, famicon, olivetti typewriters) really set my heart a pitter patter;)

    e-waste is just another way to poison the third world. custom pcs all the way. then u can upgrade parts don’t have to buy into evilsoft or poison’dapple. linux baby linux;)

    • MadHierophant

      As soon as Linux becomes a viable mainstream OS, everything that’s wrong with WIndows/MacOS is going to find it’s way there. 

  • Anonymous

    i would NEVER cop to being a tech geek in r/t but vintage electronics (atari, neo geo, famicon, olivetti typewriters) really set my heart a pitter patter;)

    e-waste is just another way to poison the third world. custom pcs all the way. then u can upgrade parts don’t have to buy into evilsoft or poison’dapple. linux baby linux;)

  • DYM44

    I still have my Apple II+ sitting in the corner. I wonder if it will still boot up?

  • DYM44

    I still have my Apple II+ sitting in the corner. I wonder if it will still boot up?

  • Redacted

    I’m surprised it didn’t burst into flames. That lolcat must have been 20kb.

    • Idiocracy

      I’m not surprised at this typical, cliche comment. What this should tell us and that most don’t recognize is the average individual doesn’t really have much data to process. The processing power of the tools we have have far surpassed the trivial social BS that floats around. Many remain VERY technologically illiterate. Being able to twitter some meaningless comment on your phone doesn’t indicate any real understanding.

      • Redacted

        I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Please slit your wrists.

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised they didn’t burst into flames. That lolcat must have been 20kb.

  • Anonymous

    As soon as Linux becomes a viable mainstream OS, everything that’s wrong with WIndows/MacOS is going to find it’s way there. 

  • Anonymous

    As soon as Linux becomes a viable mainstream OS, everything that’s wrong with WIndows/MacOS is going to find it’s way there. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQUEA5QY7YWG6TIIQZ222KL4BI Sabre

    I had to do a double take when I saw this because I had just been reading about the old John Titor time traveler internet hoax.
    If you remember it, supposedly John “had been sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer which he said was needed to “debug” various legacy computer programs in 2036; a reference to the UNIX 2038 problem. The 5100 runs the APL and BASIC programming languages.”
    Then I saw this about the 5150.
    Synchronicity? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQUEA5QY7YWG6TIIQZ222KL4BI Sabre

    I had to do a double take when I saw this because I had just been reading about the old John Titor time traveler internet hoax.
    If you remember it, supposedly John “had been sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 computer which he said was needed to “debug” various legacy computer programs in 2036; a reference to the UNIX 2038 problem. The 5100 runs the APL and BASIC programming languages.”
    Then I saw this about the 5150.
    Synchronicity? 

  • Idiocracy

    I’m not surprised at this typical, cliche comment. What this should tell us and that most don’t recognize is the average individual doesn’t really have much data to process. The processing power of the tools we have have far surpassed the trivial social BS that floats around. Many remain VERY technologically illiterate. Being able to twitter some meaningless comment on your phone doesn’t indicate any real understanding.

  • Idiocracy

    I’m not surprised at this typical, cliche comment. What this should tell us and that most don’t recognize is the average individual doesn’t really have much data to process. The processing power of the tools we have have far surpassed the trivial social BS that floats around. Many remain VERY technologically illiterate. Being able to twitter some meaningless comment on your phone doesn’t indicate any real understanding.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. Please slit your wrists.