Oct 22 2008

Getting Nostalgic about Unix Hardware

Joey wrote recently about some old Unix hardware he bought.  Those were certainly sweet machines for their time.  Every company—Sun, HP, NeXT, SGI, etc.—produced machines with its own style.  PC hardware at the time was all the same: boxy off-white towers and boxy off-white desktops, all with noisy fans and lots of screws you had to take out to get at anything.  Nowadays PCs are starting to have some personality and user-friendliness, but they still don’t match up to those Unix boxes that were recognizable from one glance.

Once upon a time, I happened to acquire four HP Apollo systems.  With 33mhz processors and 48MB of memory, they competed pretty well when PCs were only 5-10 times that fast, but eventually I had to admit they’d become doorstops and get rid of them.  I kept them longer than really made sense, because they came with 21-inch monitors, at a time when a new 21-inch PC monitor cost thousands of dollars.  They just didn’t have the power anymore to run modern software on those big screens.  Still, it was cool having four of them in a Domain ring, all recognizing each other and sharing data in an odd system like Apollo Domain OS.

Joey’s right about the old HP Laserjet printers too; they’re workhorses.  My Laserjet 5MP is at least 10 years old and going strong.  Not that it gets used much; I think I’ve only bought four toner cartridges in that time.  It been powered up all that time, though, and it’s outlasted several PCs, mice, UPSes, and other hardware.  HP really built things right back then.

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