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Thread: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

  1. #1
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    Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    Greetings forum.
    Please forgive me if this thread is in the wrong area. To be honest, I'm not sure it even has an appropriate area.

    As the title implies, I have some very, very old computers. These machines came out of a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) kiosk in a shopping mall in a city where I used to live.

    If memory serves, they are Intel 80386 machines; they could even be "286's".
    I mean, after all, they still have the old magnetic 5-1/4" floppies. Seriously!! And they still work!

    They came with CRT (of course) Touch Screen monitors and dial-up modems.

    I haven't opened the cases on them yet so I am not real sure about the MB, MEM. or Video cards that are installed in these machines but they do power up and there is video.

    My question is, is there anything that these old machines can be used for?
    I have been testing a distribution of Linux called Linux Lite, on another machine that is just a couple of years newer than the ones I've mentioned here. So far, Linux Lite has exceeded my expectations on the machine I installed it on.

    I have heard of computers as old as these being used for things like programmable LED displays,
    I'm afraid that I don't have much of an imagination for computers this old so - I'm looking for some advise.

    I can provide more information on these old machines if necessary; of course that assumes I don't get feedback like...."They're boat anchors, sink 'em, or Recycling is your friend", etc. etc.
    I mean, after all, these are exceptionally old computers as "computers" go. Please understand, I don't mean any disrespect with the comment about feedback. To be honest, I'm not really sure how I would respond if presented with this question.

    It just seems like a waste to dispose of something that someone could put to use somehow.

    I know a great number of people that would love to have a computer but cannot afford a new one. And for years now, I have wanted to be able to build old machines that I can donate or sell at a very low price to someone that otherwise, may never have had the opportunity to experience the wonders of computing.

    So, if anyone has any suggestions for these antiques, i.e., recommended OS's, use for the computer, hardware upgrades, etc. I would love to hear from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    P.S. As I said earlier, I apologize if this is in the wrong area. Moderators/Administrators of this site, please feel free to move it to a more appropriate area if needed.
    Last edited by patriot56; February 12th, 2013 at 06:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    Quote Originally Posted by patriot56 View Post

    It just seems like a waste to dispose of something that someone could put to use somehow.
    I know what you mean, I have a lot of late-90's computers I feel the same way about. I blogged about some different operating system choices for this era of machines (http://www.alandmoore.com/blog/2012/...ossible-tasks/), but what you've got is nearly a decade before that even.

    I think DOS is about your option here. Even Windows 3.1 only barely ran on the 386. Newer Linux kernels won't run on a 386, and I don't think Linux ever ran on a 286. Even the REALLY small compact distros only promise to run on a 486 (and not usably, either).

    But really, you can find Pentium II and III machines sitting at the curbside these days, so I don't see much point in fussing over a 286.

  3. #3
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    recycle

    there's far too much e-waste not being recycled properly in an era where metals are becoming increasingly rare

  4. #4
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    aside from recycling you would need to go with something like DSL (has old kernel) or Tiny Core (might still work on 386).

    also it seems 3.5 kernel still has support for 386 so perhaps with enough ram something like Slitaz or Puppy might also run.
    Read the easy to understand, lots of pics Ubuntu manual.
    Do i need antivirus/firewall in linux?
    Full disk backup (newer kernel -> suitable for newer PC): Clonezilla
    User friendly full disk backup: Rescuezilla

  5. #5
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    Quote Originally Posted by mastablasta View Post
    aside from recycling you would need to go with something like DSL (has old kernel) or Tiny Core (might still work on 386).

    also it seems 3.5 kernel still has support for 386 so perhaps with enough ram something like Slitaz or Puppy might also run.

    Scratch Tiny core as it needs 486 DX minimum

    edit: also DSL needs 486. so recycling might be best option. unless you have 486 maschines.

    interestingly intel was making 386 CPU until 2007
    Read the easy to understand, lots of pics Ubuntu manual.
    Do i need antivirus/firewall in linux?
    Full disk backup (newer kernel -> suitable for newer PC): Clonezilla
    User friendly full disk backup: Rescuezilla

  6. #6
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    Send them to recycling, the best thing you could do imho.

  7. #7
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    This is where a lot of your e-waste goes when you recycle.

    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/st...deo_index.html

    It gives an income to the poor Africans. Most life in seriously poor nations is very rough and American sensibilities cant handle what life is like for the poor around the world.

  8. #8
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    No doubt: Recycle, and that is also my advice for everything up to and including Pentium 3.

    If you happen to get an operative system running, next question is which applications? I believe Chromium takes at least 32 MB of memory for each tab open (please correct me if I'm wrong) - that is, showing a short plain HTML page without Javascript, applets...

    My first 486 had 4 MB, later upgraded to 8. Your hardware might have even less...
    Bringing old hardware back to life. About problems due to upgrading.
    Please visit Quick Links -> Unanswered Posts.
    Don't use this space for a list of your hardware. It only creates false hits in the search engines.

  9. #9
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    You could probably separate out the cpu's, and using assembly language set them up as the avionics system in your own home-built orbital rocket.

    Remember, the Saturn V got away with a lot less.

    Of course, there's always that problem getting hold of the rocket fuel and LOX...

  10. #10
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    Re: Computers, likely from the Paleolithic Period

    check ebay. they have a specific area for legacy equipment. some even collect it.
    this may be a situation where the parts are worth more than the whole.
    The only dumb question is the one not asked.

    In service to the Dream

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