The hunt for the government’s oldest computer continues

And we have a newsletter now, too.

Written by Allan Lasser
Edited by JPat Brown

Wowee!

​After my initial post, the tips started flowing in. I really can’t thank everyone who contributed enough. My enthusiasm around this project keeps growing.

Several tips mentioned specific computers in specific agencies, most based on previous news reports, like the VAX used by the Department of Education in Hawaii or the Amiga controlling the climate of schools in Grand Rapids, MI, others on firsthand knowledge or rumors.

Nevertheless, with the names of machines and the names of agencies I was able to file my first batch of requests:

​ Other tips mentioned strategies for finding the oldest computers within an agency. A frequent piece of advice was to request maintenance and service contracts - there’s not too many people who know how to keep obsolete computers in working order, and plus, the parts needed to keep them operational are becoming rarer and rarer.

There’s a whole cottage industry built up around old computers, so by digging deeper I might be able to discover some machines tucked away yet still going strong.

​In the meantime, I got an answer from the Massachusetts Port Authority.

Their oldest computer is a ProLiant Server (DL380 G3) circa 2003. By no means the oldest computer I’ve found yet, and definitely not the computer I’m looking for. Yet despite being over 10 years old, the manual makes this machine sound surprisingly capable.

Perhaps the most regrettable part is that it came with Windows 2000 installed - I hope they’ve updated since then. ​ Finally, I’ve started a newsletter for this project. Subscribe to stay up to date on my filings and findings. I’ll be sending out updates through there much more regularly than I’ll be posting stories.

You can subscribe from the project page, or below. Thank you everyone for your early enthusiasm for this project! I’m really excited to see what comes of it.

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Image by Gale Sherry via Wikimedia Commons