Hunting for Government's Oldest Computer

What started out as an attempt to answer a (seemingly) simple question - what is the oldest computer still in use by a government agency - has seen spiraled into a project that touches on issues of national security, record keeping, and finally finding out whatever happened to Zeos.

Interested in helping out? Pick an agency that’s not listed below, and click here to clone the request language. After that, email us at, and we’ll add it to the list. Happy hunting!

6 Articles

The oldest computer (not) on Earth

When Allan Lasser started his hunt for the Government’s most ancient piece of tech, he hadn’t even considered that the oldest active computer might not even be on Earth.

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The oldest computer in use by the federal government has been found

A recently released Government Accountability Office report solved the mystery of the government’s oldest computer, which surprisingly enough, isn’t a technically a computer in the conventional sense. Even more surprisingly, The Simpsons accurately predicted the winner back in 1998.

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A look inside the Department of Energy’s computer closet

Allan Lasser received spreadsheet from the Department of Energy, listing all the computer hardware they currently have in their headquarters office. With this digital copy, we can ask some simple questions against their inventory and get answers very quickly. And make cool charts!

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When conducting the Census, computers count

From the first mechanical counters to the first digital computers, the U.S. Census Bureau has lead the computer revolution since the 19th Century. Their decennial upgrade cycle means they’re operating on modern hardware, with their oldest active computer dating back to just 1999.

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The hunt for the government’s oldest computer continues

The hunt is on! You answered our call and sent in some great tips, which we’ve used to start filing. Plus: a new computer is discovered.

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Join us on the hunt for the government’s oldest computer

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If a machine is doing its job, reliably and without error, then common sense dictates that you just shouldn’t mess with it. This is doubly true for computers and quadruply true for government computers. This lends itself to an obvious question: what’s the government computer most in need of an upgrade?

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19 Requests

No Responsive Documents

1 file

Hawaii DOE VAX

Allan Lasser sent this request to the Department of Education of Hawaii

No Responsive Documents

5 files

NYHHS Mainframes

Allan Lasser sent this request to the New York State Department of Health of New York

No Responsive Documents

3 files

Oak Ridge National Lab PDP-11s

Allan Lasser sent this request to the Department of Energy of the United States of America

No Responsive Documents

2 files

SUNY Punchcards and IBM AS/400

Allan Lasser sent this request to the State University of New York of New York