Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 28th May 2017 22:29 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes

Astute readers will notice that that's exactly the same message as PC DOS 1.0 (August 1981) shows, but this COMMAND.COM did not prompt for the date. That's because this disk is not from August but rather early June 1981 - newest file is timestamped June 6, 1981 - which may make it the oldest known surviving piece of software written for the IBM PC (not counting the IBM PC ROMs which are dated April 1981). It’s certainly the oldest known surviving PC operating system.

I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this topic, but it can't be said often enough: the preservation of software - whether important world-changing or not - is crucial if we want to document the history of where software came from, and where it's going to.

Order by: Score:
Software Archaeology
by Pa1m0ne on Mon 29th May 2017 03:59 UTC
Pa1m0ne
Member since:
2017-05-29

I'm doin' my part, I got almost 4 GB worth of software for the Palm OS.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Software Archaeology
by dionicio on Mon 29th May 2017 14:12 UTC in reply to "Software Archaeology"
dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Congratulations ;)

Reply Score: 2

Archivist
by Alfman on Mon 29th May 2017 04:59 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

Thom Holwerda,

I'm starting to sound like a broken record on this topic, but it can't be said often enough: the preservation of software - whether important world-changing or not - is crucial if we want to document the history of where software came from, and where it's going to.



Ironically, it may be easier to preserve older software through emulation than today's software because of all the dependencies that will inevitably fail in the future: activation servers, DRM, web resources, game servers, etc.


For example, old copies of simcity work as good as ever. But new versions of it are insanely fragile even for single player gameplay:

https://mic.com/articles/29213/simcity-drm-always-online-mode-result...


Even linux distros themselves, which are completely open source, could be difficult to use in the future if we don't mirror the online repos.


Obviously this is problematic to anyone who'd like to use this software again long into the future; Without the online portion it may be difficult/impossible to preserve them. It would be nice if proprietary software companies made the software public domain after a while, but that requires their cooperation and they may just become defunct before the public gets anything.

So, in the future the best record of software may actually be the recorded videos we see on video sharing sites. I wonder how much of that is being archived today, there's just so much of it, where would you start?

Reply Score: 6

Vogons
by brostenen on Mon 29th May 2017 06:54 UTC
brostenen
Member since:
2007-01-16

Saving old software are just as important as the hardware and drivers/tools, as well as the knowledge behind all this. Just take a site like Vogons. It is filled up with knowledge behind software, drivers and hardware. Someone there might even have copies of old software that someone is seeking. I think that the internet archieve, and projects/sites like Vogons are doing a hell of a job. Even when one of the longest running 3DfX related sites closed down, a couple of users began to mirror the site, just to preserve for the future.

People all over the internet are doing preservation jobs all the time.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Chupakabra
by Chupakabra on Mon 29th May 2017 07:50 UTC
Chupakabra
Member since:
2017-05-29

the preservation of software - whether important world-changing or not - is crucial if we want to document the history of where software came from, and where it's going to

Well, about as much as punch cards, analog computers, tube computers and any other primitive archaic technologies. Just because you feel very nostalgic about certain old software and tech. does not make them special in any way. Crucial tech. and software that had a huge impact on the development of computing in general will be preserved, there's no doubt about that. General and concise knowledge (a "summary" one might say) about other software will also be preserved...
The rest is trivia β€” and will die when the last person feeling nostalgia for it dies.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Chupakabra
by brostenen on Mon 29th May 2017 08:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by Chupakabra"
brostenen Member since:
2007-01-16

"the preservation of software - whether important world-changing or not - is crucial if we want to document the history of where software came from, and where it's going to

Well, about as much as punch cards, analog computers, tube computers and any other primitive archaic technologies. Just because you feel very nostalgic about certain old software and tech. does not make them special in any way. Crucial tech. and software that had a huge impact on the development of computing in general will be preserved, there's no doubt about that. General and concise knowledge (a "summary" one might say) about other software will also be preserved...
The rest is trivia β€” and will die when the last person feeling nostalgia for it dies.
"

It's deeper than just being nostalgic. It is about preservation of everything computer related. Just look at what the main goal of "Computer History Museum" is all about. Saying that preservation is just some "nostalgic" thingy that will pass, is like not understanding the depts of what is actually going on with preservation of hardware and software.

Shure I understand you, if it was only about reliving ones childhood or seing ones own software run again. Though saying that it is only nostalgic is like not understanding. I have seen and talked to 17 year old persons, that find early 80's computers cool, and collect them. I do not exactly understand how a word like nostalgic fits those persons. You know... They were not even born in 1981/82.

Preserving is more than just for some random nostalgia. It is about preserving our past. Just like when people preserve old cars from 1920's, old record players from 1960's, preserving a house from 1500's or even preserving a ship from 1850's. It is about saving at least some of our past, in order to understand what we once were as a civilization. Or just a way to understand why we are who we are.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Chupakabra
by Chupakabra on Mon 29th May 2017 09:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Chupakabra"
Chupakabra Member since:
2017-05-29

Yes, I understand all that, my point is, those things deserve their place in a museum, just like those classic cars or any other artifacts from the past. And yet, no one really cares about VW Golf III being preserved as a precious artifact that teaches us about our culture and history... Nor they care about Dell Vostro 3300 being preserved, or old Xiaomi smartphones. Only really iconic or really revolutionary instances or tech are preserved. I don't see why software should be any different. And it isn't β€” truly important and iconic software is being preserved, as well as hardware. Just enough instances of it to be able to investigate and to remember. No one gives a damn about mundane, lousy and crappy software being preserved. And majority of software is mundane, lousy and crappy with nothing to learn from it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Chupakabra
by feamatar on Tue 30th May 2017 15:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Chupakabra"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Time will tell... Value is rarity, and if a running VW Golf III is preserved 1000 year from now, I am sure it will be of immense value.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by Chupakabra
by Chupakabra on Wed 31st May 2017 06:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Chupakabra"
Chupakabra Member since:
2017-05-29

Time will tell... Value is rarity, and if a running VW Golf III is preserved 1000 year from now, I am sure it will be of immense value.

And yet, no one is running around screaming "Preserve VW Golf, preserve our legacy!"...

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by Chupakabra
by Alfman on Wed 31st May 2017 13:58 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Chupakabra"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Chupakabra,

And yet, no one is running around screaming "Preserve VW Golf, preserve our legacy!"...


That's the thing with collectables, they are valuable because they are rare, but if everyone kept them they wouldn't become valuable. Most people don't have a good place to store these until they become valuable, but if they did they wouldn't become valuable, it's a bit of a catch 22!

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by Chupakabra
by Chupakabra on Wed 31st May 2017 14:21 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by Chupakabra"
Chupakabra Member since:
2017-05-29

That's the thing with collectables, they are valuable because they are rare, but if everyone kept them they wouldn't become valuable. Most people don't have a good place to store these until they become valuable, but if they did they wouldn't become valuable, it's a bit of a catch 22!

Yeah, exactly, some collectibles are highly valuable only because they are very scarce. Even though they have no other considerable value at all... I don't appreciate such inflation of value based on rarity alone.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by Chupakabra
by Alfman on Wed 31st May 2017 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by Chupakabra"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Chupakabra,

Yeah, exactly, some collectibles are highly valuable only because they are very scarce. Even though they have no other considerable value at all... I don't appreciate such inflation of value based on rarity alone.


There can be both economic value and cultural/sentimental value. I don't think sentimental value is necessarily based on rarity the same way that economic value is.

We grew up very close to the world's first oil wells, they're everywhere in the countryside, I personally was fascinated to explore them even though there's no economic value beyond the scrap metal.

Some people get drawn into ancient worlds. I guess it might not do much for you, but seeing the ancient remains of rome was amazing to me because it's a direct connection to the civilizations of the past. I don't know that we could do it, but if I lived in the distant future it would be amazing if we preserved not just individual artifacts but whole towns for future civilizations to experience.

Edited 2017-05-31 14:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by Chupakabra
by feamatar on Wed 31st May 2017 15:06 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Chupakabra"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

There are differences though, the service life of a year old car is longer than the service life of the usual computer or software.

In my country veteran status is 30 year for cars. Any car past that date is valuable, and up for conservation with strict requirements.

Reply Score: 2

Megol
Member since:
2011-04-11

I will not buy this record, it is scratched.

Reply Score: 3

Source code
by ebasconp on Mon 29th May 2017 13:47 UTC
ebasconp
Member since:
2006-05-09

I appreciate old software and all the preservation measures taking in place, but as important as having the binaries, having source code or even source code with its development environments would be glorious.

A lot of times, having the source code is not good enough, compiling it and debugging it would be a delight.

I know, almost never possible ;)

Reply Score: 4

Can't less than smile...
by dionicio on Mon 29th May 2017 13:55 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

When seeing that fluorescent green, drawn cube. Back in the days wrote a routine for my Atari to do the same [Also jumped directly to ROM basic] :-)

Core just a transform between Cartesian and Radial coordinates. Huge work of patience to generate the vertex data list [with a cellulose screen] and the lines pairs.

Basic I learned from those "programmatic" books my Big Brother brought to me [Computing I learned without access to computers]. Total literature on the damn machine: Approx. 100 booklet pages. Internet decades far away. [Floppy drive cost more than double the PC itself, that a later gift from my Brother, also].

Edited 2017-05-29 14:03 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by cb88
by cb88 on Mon 29th May 2017 16:01 UTC
cb88
Member since:
2009-04-23

Much modern software descends from Unix.... even things that frequently run on Windows these days.

In old literature you frequently see Solaris and SunOS as being able to run 10000 applications... but good luck finding any of that. Due to copyrights lasting far longer than they should... no one can archive any of this stuff.

Reply Score: 4

v RE: Comment by cb88
by Chupakabra on Mon 29th May 2017 16:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
RE[2]: Comment by cb88
by Chupakabra on Wed 31st May 2017 06:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by cb88"
Chupakabra Member since:
2017-05-29

Wow, Unix fanboys going crazy :-D

Reply Score: 1

archive.org
by Lennie on Tue 30th May 2017 07:33 UTC
Lennie
Member since:
2007-09-22

The people at Archive.org are doing a pretty good job at trying to preserve some at least of the software, culture, etc. of computing and other 'sub cultures'.

If you want to help someone, maybe them.

Reply Score: 3

I was around with DOS 1.x
by Sabon on Tue 30th May 2017 18:57 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

It was mid 1982 when I started working for the billing department in the headquarters for a lumber company in Seattle.

At the time we used to get hard copy updates of all the "log rafts" (from stands of trees to finish products going to market by 3rd party companies). These updates would arrive on the desk of the person in billing responsible for keeping up to date.

When we got them people would take them directly the filing department who put them in large file cabinets.

Once in awhile we asked for updates on a raft. We would fill out a form requesting a copy of the original form. A couple days later the paper copy would be delivered to our desk. Remember that this was 1982. We would then fill out another report to let management know the status of the "log raft".

I knew how to program, having a 2 year certificate from a technical school where I learned COBOL, FORTRAN, RPG, BASIC, etc.. That's another story. But Boeing laid off hundreds of programmers just when I was graduating and I didn't want to move to a different part of the country so I took the job I could find.

Anyway, I thought it was really stupid to just pass the paperwork onto the filing department without noting the updates for the log rafts. So I started entering that information into a program on our HP 3000 mainframe. Then, when management wanted an update, I looked in my mainframe file to see if I had the most recent update and if I did I was able to create a report right then and there and put it on that manager's desk within half an hour instead of it taking multiple days.

As you can imagine, management was really interested in how I was able to do this so I showed them and they were blown away by this.

Personally I thought it was an incredibly obvious thing to do. But lots of people just do what other people tell them to do and don't try to think of better ways to do things. I personally can't stop trying to think of better ways to do things.

A few days later "Peter" showed up at my desk. I knew he was in management but I didn't know what his title was. I'd only been working for the company for a couple of months.

He took me to his office where he had an IBM XT computer with Lotus 1-2-3 on it. He asked if I knew how to use a computer. He had just bought it after being showing this exact setup. I told him I knew mainframes not PCs but I could probably figure it out pretty quickly. And I did.

The next week he went on vacation. That same week I was laid off by my boss who said my services were no longer needed.

Looking backward I could see that my boss was worried about their income. Doing things my way would mean things happened faster and less people would be needed shuffling papers around. And less people under someone means less pay.

I ended up working for a bank a few days later for better pay, so that worked out great for me. I also ended up there for 11 years where I also thought outside the box a lot and automated as much as I could. It is also the reason that I got hired on there as a programmer where I got to program on mainframes again and also PCs which were also XTs with DOS 1 in the beginning. But we quickly upgraded to newer versions while we could.

The only DOS book back then is what you got with the computer. Everything had to be printed because there wasn't enough room on a floppy disk to story everything.

I ended up creating my own manuals for DOS as I figured out more and more things that weren't included in the manuals.

Oh, and our first PC servers were 186s. Something that was only created for servers and not "desktop PCs". And we had luggable Compaq computers for my boss and I plus Olivetti desktop computers. Why Olivetti when I worked in Seattle? One of the top brass had a friend ...

Oh, and when "Peter" got back he tracked me down and called me and asked me to come back at my same pay. I turned him down. Especially since he wanted me to help him come up with a system for everyone to enter their data into spreadsheets so they would be able to search for it easily.

I'll always remember that first "PC" that I used. It had DOS 1 on it and Lotus 1-2-3 version 1.something.

About eight years later I put all of the 2nd edition AD&D tables from the DM Guide, Players Guide, Monster Manuals, etc., into Lotus 1-2-3 and created Character Sheets inside Lotus 1-2-3 in the same file so that I was able to VERY quickly create my characters. All I had to do was start typing the name of something in and Lotus would fill in the rest. And I could create as many characters as the amount of memory in my computer could handle.
I then created "sheets" for battles making it much easier to keep track of everything that was going on during battles.

Edited 2017-05-30 19:00 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Hoard or Perish!
by uridium on Thu 1st Jun 2017 00:00 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

Sites like bitsavers and TUHS are fantastic for mining history. Wish I could put my archive legally online. It's pushing 4Tb.

Reply Score: 2