Home > General Development > Where Old Software Goes to Die Where Old Software Goes to Die Eugenia Loli 2003-01-17 General Development 24 Comments “When old programmers like me (I’m 41) get together we talk about the applications from the old days. What happens to these beauties?” Read the editorial at ZDNews. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 24 Comments 2003-01-17 1:29 am Anonymous Does anyone have Fool’s Errand for PC or the Amiga that they want to sell? 2003-01-17 1:41 am Anonymous DOS as a beauty queen. Is he really THAT old ? Alzheimer kicks in at 41? Forgot what it was like to program in DOS. Besides, DOS is not that dead – it’s quite popular in embedded world. If all you need is to run a single task, then DOS with it’s huge sotware archive is a good bet. Software dies when hardware it runs on is turned off. RT-11 is dead. Ultrix is dead. When HP shut finally Alpha OpenVMS dies too. 2003-01-17 1:55 am Anonymous vax is dead… RIP 2003-01-17 1:57 am Anonymous >> Where old software goes to die? It goes to poor countries. Not everyone in a poor country is a pirate. Some want — or have to — abide by the law and cannot afford to purchase newer programs (which get more expensive every day). Older hardware also play a role — lack of RAM causes GPFs in more heavy programs, which gives new applications/OSes a bad image and reenforces the (dubious) idea of old being better. When some novelty works, speed is quite disappointing… back to old versions they go. It is interesting to note that apps are sometimes reborn in “alternative” OSes like Linux. LBreakOut, for example, is a nice old app beautifully redone. 2003-01-17 2:42 am Anonymous DOS *was* a beauty!, At least I thought so. Yeah, segmented mem sucked but you could go straight for the metal. Wrote DOS-TSRs back then. One couldn’t use the normal c lib in it so you had to recreate the functions you wanted from there yourself using asm and the bios/dos interrupts. oh those where the days…. 2003-01-17 2:55 am Anonymous It has always struck me as odd that games get the most attention for preservation. MAME ( http://www.mame.net/ ) stands as the most successful (public) software preservation project ever created. MAME has dozens of active volunteers including hardware experts, collectors, professional emulator programmers, and people formerly employed by arcade companies. TOSEC ( http://www.tosec.org/ ) takes up some of the slack for more commonplace hardware and software, but doesn’t seem to be too successful… yet. (Especially when the best they can get to port their software is a lazy bastard like me.) 😉 2003-01-17 3:18 am Anonymous I’m currently working as a consultant to Merrill Lynch in Jacksonville, FL., USA. I was brought on-board in April, 2001 to assist in the transition of some life insurance apps from Springfield, MA, USA down to Florida. Almost all of these apps were written in Clipper (Summer ’87, 5.0, 5.01a), with some C object modules to perform some of the calcs a bit quicker. These apps are still running, now on NT (soon to be Windows 2000) Citrix servers. They just work. Sure, we are still ironing out a bug here and there, but for the most part, they run well. We are not alone in this. There are literally hundreds of companies accross the United States alone that have a large investment in these DOS apps. Yes, they could be rewritten, but it would be very expensive. The source files I help maintain contain over 960,000 lines of code. It would take a huge investment in time and money to rewrite them. It is more cost-effective, at least for now, to just maintain the apps the way they are. This is also why you will find a ton of mainframe-based COBOL and Fortran apps in insurance, investment and banking corporations. 2003-01-17 3:43 am Anonymous “You can’t even find a user support site for the old Lotus programs, like the DOS versions of 1, 2, and 3.” 1, 2, and 3?? No wonder he can’t find a user support site! 2003-01-17 3:54 am Anonymous I think you made the point that so many need to learn. Once you make something it will be out their forever. And if it was somehting you sold that did things that only work in it. Maybe a database or something like that. It will have to run forever. You can’t just make something and then replace it the next week. People will keap using it. This is why MS doesn’t kill support for things completely, they know people have some old app that was crusty on win95 and the need to to run in winXP and will need it to run later. This is why it’s important to do a good job with your apps and have a plan for it’s retirement. And opensourcing it is not the cureall, giving someone the code more often then not won’t help them. They probably will have no clue what to do with it. Even if they understand it it’s probably still not going to help them. The problem will remain that they have data tied to it and such. And very few companies and users who use it will have the resources to work with the code for their needs. The people using these randome small apps that don’t last a week are the people don’t code or don’t have resources. In other fields retirement and disposal plans are put in place before a product goes into service. It’s know that what you put out will keap going long past what it was ment for. Programmers seam to miss this whole idea. also even if you have a free program or upgrade and you have it up to date and things are great people won’t have it upgraded. Their probably is tons of people running a < 1 build of mozilla for example. You can’t just turn your head. Now you can discontinue support for it and kill it, but you want to be able to know that people will be ok using your product at a older state. Companies like MS should kill old versions like everything through millenium. But even after they kill them it’s not a problem since they still run. If you had a computer setup with something in 1995 running something it will be just fine doing it 15 years later. it’s not MS problem if they want to run office XP on win3.1 . this article just makes me think of the dilbert episode with old betty the mainframe, they just kept it going and they can’t ever get rid of it. 2003-01-17 4:06 am Anonymous I was thinking about this very subject the other day but not in the way of sourcecode. What happens to old packaged software? For instance, there’s a very good chance that every boxed copy of MS Win95, Office 97, Redhat 7.x, etc, etc. I presume the boxed software either goes back to the manufacturer or in a warehouse for later resale. What happens to the diskettes, boxes, manuals, thereafter? Do they just end up in a landfill? I was also thinking the same thing about hardware ( which is going * a bit * offtopic, I know ;=) ). There are a lot of USB and ATA adapters being made right now ( I’m omitting the really old stuff 5.25″ floppies… ) which are evermore being added on to motherboards w/ enough additional ports that adapters are needed anymore or new technology is replacing them ( ie UltraATA -> SerialATA in a few years). Again, what happens to the old hardware? Does it go to a warehouse, used computer charity org, or in a landfill? 2003-01-17 4:27 am Anonymous Or it gets placed on an abandonware site for people to download for free for no cost. Long live MS-DOS 6.22, Win31, Office 4.3 Pro, Win32s, IE 5.0 16bit! 2003-01-17 5:17 am Anonymous //This is also why you will find a ton of mainframe-based COBOL and Fortran apps in insurance, investment and banking corporations// Just look at Macola and Syspro….they both still run on COBOL code. 2003-01-17 5:40 am Anonymous They get protected by american copyright for the next 500 years. After that, they get protected for a further 2000 years. 2003-01-17 5:48 am Anonymous works beautifully and I use it on a daily basis.. 😉 2003-01-17 6:06 am Anonymous Question: How much longer could a laptop Li-Ion batter run if it was running dos 6.22 w/ edit.com rather than Windows XP & Word XP? Would it last longer at all? 2003-01-17 7:55 am Anonymous :RT-11 is dead. Ultrix is dead. When HP shut finally Alpha OpenVMS dies too. What are you talking about? OpenVMS is being ported to that new-fangled HP-Wintel processor as we’re speaking, and has been since quite a while. OpenVMS is too good to die. 2003-01-17 8:14 am Anonymous Clipper, that’s where I come from. I have to admit, that Clipper in combination with Zachary (RAD app generator) was hardly beaten combination. Clipper is good language (preprocessor, code-blocks (runtime code compile), replaceable database driver) – all the stuff at DOS times. I visited one computer show just two years ago, and was suprised there is still many database apps being maintained in DOS. And you know what? Ppl has no reason to change. I offered one of my older customers to transit system I did for him to Windows … he looked at similar app under windows and refused, because back at that time my Windows app was not fully keyboard driven and he told me something like – I need my ppl to enter data, not to play with mouse and plenty of windows like some secretary … Sometimes I miss simplicity with modern GUI apps …. 2003-01-17 8:20 am Anonymous DCOM was a neat little file manager for DOS… I still use it to this day… Sigh ;] 2003-01-17 12:53 pm Anonymous Hmmm… What I’d like to get my hands on is a working Symbolics Lisp Machine. geoff 2003-01-17 2:43 pm Anonymous I’ve been to a few auctions were tons & tons of old software/hardware/manuals/books/Old magazine CD’s are just auctioned off, for dirt cheap. The thing that gets me is most of the old software is in perfect condition, complete with manuals, and its so tempting!!! I’ve got old DOS, but my mate has got Windows 2, which I need on 5.25 inch disk…maybe?? 2003-01-17 5:09 pm Anonymous “There’s also a kind of open-source DOS called OpenDOS.” FreeDOS?? 2003-01-17 5:43 pm Anonymous For exdample,have you ever tried to flash the BIOS of an NT based machine? You need a DOS boot floppy in order to do it. There are other similar cases, such as “ghosting” hard drives and rebuilding older machines, etc. 2003-01-17 7:11 pm Anonymous I thought that was Computer Associates… 2003-01-17 7:17 pm Anonymous Dell definitely got the better end of the deal with the lawyer, if it was working, it will become a great collectors piece to be acquired by the rich older developers. I do miss my old Beeb & QL though, but when I let them go, I know they got far more use than I would have given them. I only hang on to my FatMac because nobody could really use it, & it rewarded me so well. Yet most of my newer pc/macs are much more likely to take a trip to India/China where some poor soul will get poisened taking them apart. I can only hope eventually the industry will take care of the proper disposal of hw.