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Man discovers 30 year old Apple computer still in working order (cnn.com)
47 points by andrewstuart 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

Why is this even news? Youtube is literally full of hundreds of thousands of similar videos. 30 years old personal machine is not even old. I can't even understand the importance of this story.

Yeah, pretty sure you can grab a working unit on eBay for under a hundred. It's cool... but absolutely not notable or newsworthy.

It's also on the front page of CNN... Which editor decided that this was big enough news that it deserved to be on the front page of their site?

In this case, it's about the contents of the machine, title probably should have made that clear.

Kinda weird that this is CNN news.

There's lots of old computers in working order.

There are many potentially interesting discussions around this story. Just off the top of my head: the resilience of old hardware, the joy of rediscovering something previously forgotten, old computer games. Let's not make this about CNN's editorial choices (human interest stories have been a thing for a long time) or whether or not this is news. After all, you submitted it.

It's a reasonable topic to write a story about. However, CNN could have chosen a much better headline, one that doesn't make it sound like a 30-year old computer that still works as some kind of oddity.

Yeah, it's a challenge.

We as readers (and HN participants) need to rise to it and do better than resort to knee-jerk reactions. Without excusing the behavior, CNN (and other online publications) are in a tough spot: so much of their revenue relies on eyeballs and clicks on ads, so the incentive to write headlines that drive those metrics, which is often in opposition to writing more sober, descriptive headlines.

We complain about click-bait, refuse to pay subscriptions, complain about the quality of journalism which costs money to produce, often react only to the headline, sometimes click anyway. Regardless of what CNN does, we can't abdicate our role and responsibility in the relationship, both with the media, and here on HN.

Yea I agree that the headline was a bit off. I was expecting that he found one switched on, having been running for 30+ years in a closet at the university or something along those lines. That he found one in the box in his attic and that it works is not that amazing.

They barely wrote about it though. It's a bunch of embedded tweets and an unrelated, generic video about the history of Apple at the top. The body copy of the article is copied quotes from the tweets and wikipedia-esque information about Apple.

I can forgive CNN for writing this article but I can't get over the glaring grammatical error in the second paragraph:

> and to his surprised it still turned on.

Who the hell does proofreading at CNN??

Or cars. I think it's even more amazing that a 30 year old (or much older) car could still work well. Lots going on there.

+1. Just have a look at the retrocomputing community.

I'm sure Apple paid them well for the advertisement.

I recently cleaned out my closet and found a Nintendo DS, 3DS, and 3DS XL. I hadn't touched them in years. To my surprise, all of them immediately turned on. I guess I'm so used to devices bleeding battery even when "off" that I figured it would be the case here, but not at all. I also found a Gameboy Advance SP with no batteries in it that booted immediately when I put fresh ones in. I think it says a lot that I was surprised by that.

I wish more companies built hardware the way Nintendo does.

Even original Gameboys still work fine. To the extent that they're barely worth anything. The only things that seem to fail on Gameboys is the batteries inside many of the cartridges, but it's trivial to replace those (you do lose your saves, though).

Nintendo Switch isn't the most durable device. I attribute this to the sheer complexity of the device - they did what they could to while cutting some corners here and there to make the device affordable. And it's a massive success.

The Game Boy Advance SP does not take batteries. It has its own, rechargable li-on battery inside. You're probably thinking of the regular Advance.

Funny; this is my one annoyance with the Switch. If I leave it for a few days I know that it will be dead and I'll need to recharge it.

It's actually quite a touching story! Among other things, this guy found a letter[0] that his late father had written to him on that Apple //e when he was 11 years old and away at summer camp.

[0] https://t.co/Aog3MiSnXN

I think that the best part is that he still has papers from when he was a kid on floppy disk. He was afraid of not being able to recover them, when the @textfiles symbol was sent out and http://archive.org 's Jason Scott came up to bat. https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/1097251935453876224

It there is anyone who can recover those files to a modern readable format, even if only in an emulator, it's him. Also, if you have any old Apple II, C64, or other vintage floppies, he's love to archive them. He's always up for copying....that floppy.

30 years ago was 1989. The Commodore 64 is older then that!

Yep. I have a 37yo working Commodore 64 here and I didn't get any CNN story for it.

Was it your parents' computer that you used as a child?

believe it or not people in their 50s or older are on the internet :)

My point was that was the point of the article, as much as the age of the hardware.

sorry missed the joke!

It's impressive that those 5.25" floppy disks are still good. Most of my 3.5" ones bit the dust long ago, along with nearly all my CD-Rs.

5.25" were always more durable than the 1.44mb 3.5" ones. I used an '87-vintage PC XT clone till I got a Pentium in '95 & kept the old computer in a closet.

When I booted it up a few years later all my 5.25" still worked where as brand new 3.5" ones would be a good bet to not be readable even after a single rewrite.

I recently found a stack of 3.5" floppies from the 90's, about 1/3 of them had errors. I was able to read most of the data from those -- I think I only ran into one that was completely dead.

But seriously, what do you think is more resilient? new or old hardware? do my laptop will continue working in 30 years without maintenance?

Based on personal experience, the older the hardware, the more resilient it is.

A lot of that is probably down to simplicity, but the fact that it's from a time when electronics were expected to be repairable and maintained is probably a big part of it as well. My Apple II Plus from grade school still works perfectly, and I've done nothing more than simply keep using it.

I recently acquired an IMSAI 8080 that had been sitting in someone's storage unit for the past decade. I used a variac at first to make sure I wouldn't fry any circuits, but it turned out to be in perfect condition, and went right back into action as if it were still 1975.

Meanwhile, my 2009 MacBook has long since given up the ghost—and of course, Apple has no interest whatsoever in supporting me to repair it myself. I wish our technology was still built to last, rather than built to replace every two years when the payment plan ends.

Apart from the main battery and any backup batteries that laptop would probably work if it were left in storage for a few decades. The power supply is another story, that probably would need to have its electrolytic capacitors replaced before it would work reliably (or at all). Laptops don't contain that much hardware which deteriorates in time, especially not when left un-powered to avoid electromigration becoming an issue. Switch-mode power supplies don't hold up well and their failure mode is often catastrophic, this in contrast to linear power supplies which start suffering from ever-larger ripple current as the buffer capacitors lose electrolyte over time. The main reason for this is that switch-mode power supplies have large electrolytic buffer capacitors on the high-voltage side while linear power supplies only have them on the low-voltage end. I've repaired many a 'boat-anchor' (large transformer-equipped linear) power supply by simply swapping out the buffer capacitors. Blown switch-mode power supplies usually don't come back to life by swapping capacitors, these often need to have some active components replaced before anything interesting (other than the rapid release of magic smoke) happens.

Bigger and more crudely build components probably play a large part. A Microprocessor from the 70s and 80s is made on much larger nodes than today's chips, traces and soldering points are bigger, PCB's thicker, almost all components sans resistors and wires were either bigger or build differently.

They have more material to play with while they decay compared to modern devices.

I'll bet good money that an IBM PC or PC XT that has been properly stored will boot up and be more or less as usable today as it was the day it was put to storage (especially the floppy-only models without an hdd).

Possibly, though I would still check capacitors and any voltage regulation (transformer and linear) to make sure it won't blow up suddenly because some wire coating rotted through.

I guess another candidate are any batteries leaking, but IIRC the PC & XT didn't have battery backed clocks & therefor no battery on the motherboard.

> do my laptop will continue working in 30 years without maintenance?

Probably not, but same is often true for old computers.

Old hardware is easier to maintain. You can recap them, replace the failed memory chips and even fix cracks in the PCB by just running some extra wires.

You can do same to current modern computers as well, but it's nowhere near as easy.

Since it has an ssd I could see mine working in 24 years when it is 30 years old.

Do you have any particular reason to believe so? I think spinning rust is more likely to survive than electrical charges in tiny cells.

SSDs require power at least once per 1-3 years or otherwise they can lose the stored data.

If SSD loses critical housekeeping data, it might never work again.

> SSDs require power at least once per 1-3 years or otherwise they can lose the stored data.

This information needs to be better known. I assumed--and I think many people would assume--that SSDs would be an excellent medium for long term backups. Wikipedia confirms that SSDs aren’t good for long term storage:

"If left without power, worn out SSDs typically start to lose data after about one to two years in storage, depending on temperature. New drives are supposed to retain data for about ten years."[1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive#Comparison_w...

good to know

I love that the saved game immediately brought up Obvious exits are NORTH, SOUTH and DENNIS

This is like 85% of the way to an Onion headline.


Do you mean greenscale?

I got a Mac SE (circa 1987) that still boots. Can I get it on CNN?

Was it your parents' computer that you used as a child?

No, I flipped burgers all summer to save up $1,895 and then faked my way into the Apple Developer Program to get the 50% hardware discount. I took the Mac to college with me that fall and used it for almost everything while earning my CS degree.

I was still getting WWDC invites for a decade after that.

Me too!

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