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Programming IT Technology

What Is the Oldest Code Written Still Running? 903

Posted by kdawson
from the when-dinosaurs-ruled-the-datacenter dept.
Consul writes "What is the oldest piece of code that is still in use today, that has not actually been retyped or reimplemented in some way? By 'piece of code,' I'm of course referring to a complete algorithm, and not just a single line." The question would have a different answer if emulation, in multiple layers, is allowed.
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What Is the Oldest Code Written Still Running?

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  • Satellite code (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2008 @03:40PM (#23370850)
    Check the various satellites. Voyager 1 is about 31 years old and significant portions of its programming remain unchanged. It is expected to keep running until about 2020. There are older operational satellites, but I'm not sure which ones were hardwired vs programmable controllers.
  • "Firmware" updates [nasa.gov] have been occasionally uploaded to the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft when necessary.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by jacobsm (661831) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @03:57PM (#23370988)
    One of the original IBM System S360 programs, IEFBR14 is still in wide use today. IEFBR14 CSECT SR 15,15 BR 14 END Only two changes in over 40 years. It doesn't do much, in fact nothing except set a zero return code, but it is widely used for dataset allocation purposes in batch dataset allocation processing.
  • by sphealey (2855) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @03:58PM (#23371004)
    As late as 1998 one of my former employers was running applications written in 1401 assembler in the late 50s/early 60s which in turn had been translated from IBM accounting machine commands. I can't say if they are still running since I am no longer there but given the size and resulting inertia of that entity I would not bet against at least one of those apps still being in service.

  • by jd (1658) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:00PM (#23371016) Homepage Journal
    Once they rebuilt the Manchester Mk. 1 ten years ago, Alan Turing's program became the oldest program runnable without emulation. It clocks in at 60 years old, being written in 1948. The code finds the highest common factor between any two integers expressable in 32 bits. Not bad, given that the Mk. 1 had only one arithmetic operator, subtract.
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@@@xmsnet...nl> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:01PM (#23371030)
    The Science Museum has card decks for Jacquard looms that are more than a century old. Bletchley Park has a replica Colossus machine, which needs programming in the shape of switch positions. IDK if the code they use was preserved, or reverse engineered along with the rest of the machine, though.
  • old CNC (Score:2, Informative)

    by rcallan (1256716) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:01PM (#23371032)
    I think the question could stand to be a little more specific in terms of the definitions of "code" and "running," but I'm sure somewhere someone is using punch cards to machine things ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Numerical_Control [wikipedia.org] ). I've seen a lot of ancient machines like this, mostly because they are designed for very long lifetimes, but also because generally they are given the tlc of the machinists that use them.
  • by WGR (32993) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:07PM (#23371094) Journal

    FYI: The oldest nuclear plant still in operation began operation in 1969 (Oyster Creek, NJ).
    There are reactors at Chalk River in Ontario that have been operating continuously since the early 1950's. Most of the world's medical isotopes come from them.
  • Re:MOD PARENT DOWN! (Score:2, Informative)

    by calebt3 (1098475) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:10PM (#23371128)
    What's the matter? 'Funny' doesn't yield any karma, anyways.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x o x y . n et> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:16PM (#23371176) Homepage Journal
    The US DoD has a system, called MOCAS ("MECHANIZATION OF CONTRACT ADMINISTRATION SERVICES") that was originally brought on-line in 1958 [portfolio.com].

    I'm not too familiar with it, so I don't know if the code has ever been changed -- I suspect the hardware has been updated periodically, probably various IBM mainframes -- but based on my experience with government systems there is probably a fair bit of original code in there that nobody understands anymore, and thus doesn't touch.

    There is very little information about the system online; here is an Internet Archive page about it [archive.org], that's as close to an 'official site' as I can find.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by suso (153703) * on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:16PM (#23371184) Homepage Journal
    Thanks for the response and its great to read your input on this.

    What I'm saying in my post though is that from my point of view and I think from others my age (32), is that you're more likely to hear just about computers from before the 70s rather than the software they ran. I'm sure you have a different viewpoint because you actually experienced that era. But I didn't and all I have to go on is what is written in books and on the net.

    I'm glad that there isn't a complete disconnect between the generations here. ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:27PM (#23371260)
    Old school devices such as digital watches use ICs. ICs are really nothing more than assemblies of discrete components (resistors, transistors, etc). To count, the device would have to use at least a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller). These devices could be considered to use 'Code'. The next challenge would be to find the oldest device STILL RUNNING.

    Great Ask Slashdot!
  • by smallfries (601545) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#23371294) Homepage
    The standard textbook implementation of GCD only uses a single arithmetic operator... And the algorithm was pretty old by the time Turing wrote a copy of it...
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:34PM (#23371304) Homepage

    I don't remember when digital watches started appearing, but I suppose there's a bit of code in there?

    There almost certainly isn't a line of code in them. "Digital" != "Computer". Digital watches are nothing but a clock, a counter, a display matrix and a little bit of logic for setting/resetting the counter.
  • by dkuntz (220364) <douglas.kuntz@jelly f i shnetworks.com> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:39PM (#23371326) Homepage
    Wouldnt it have been:
    10 print testing
    20 goto 10

    or even
    10 ? Testing
    20 goto 10
  • IEFBR14 (Score:5, Informative)

    by aixylinux (1287566) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:50PM (#23371430)
    If by "program" you mean a stored program on what is conventionally meant by a computer today, I have a candidate.  IEFBR14 was used on the earliest version of OS/360 in 1964 as a do-nothing program. It is still in use today, unchanged on the latest version of z/OS.  Its function is to execute a JCL step which does nothing, but in the process of doing nothing, the job scheduler is invoked.  This is one method of creating and deleting datasets (files). It is also the shortest valid OS/360 (and z/OS) program, containing two executable assembler statements and two assembler directives.  The comments are mine.

             SR 15,15       SET EXIT CODE TO 0
             BR 14          RETURN AND EXIT
             END            TELL ASSEMBLER END OF PROGRAM

    Interestingly, the first version of this program had a bug, which was subsequently corrected by doubling the program length.  It omitted the SR 15,15 statement, which meant that at program exit register 15 had an unpredictable value -- and the program exit code was therefore unpredictable.  Since a zero exit code is used to guide the conditional execution of subsequent steps, a failure could be indicated when there was none.

    And contrary to another post, I believe there are a lot of people with computer experience predating 1970 who read Slashdot.  But I don't want to start a flame war over that.
  • 1968 for me. (Score:5, Informative)

    by lancejjj (924211) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:51PM (#23371436) Homepage
    Just a few weeks ago, one of my guys was looking at an old system that we have running. It is an old IMS application running on an IBM mainframe used to manage some factory equipment. We want to replace that system (even though "it just works"), so my guy was looking into it to see how it worked, as documentation is, of course, non-existent.

    The source code was written by my first CIO in the mid 1980s (who retired in the early 1990s), and it had a comment at the top which stated that it was created in January, 1968. It is quite sloppy... clearly before anyone thought about writing pretty code. There is no doubt in my mind that it was originally written on coding forms, and subsequently loaded into a machine via the long-defunct keypunch department. The program, of course, is running on much newer hardware now, but the code that is running was written in 1968.

    I speculate that there is a bunch of older code outside of my company.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevinmc (917497) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @04:54PM (#23371466)
  • by jd (1658) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:03PM (#23371530) Homepage Journal
    That's true enough, and it was presumably because it was well-known that Turing used it on the world's first stored-program computer - easier to spot defects in the hardware side of the logic if the software side can be trusted as correct. The program and data were both in volatile memory, and instructions were fetched via an instruction pointer rather than going on to the next piece of punch tape or going by hard-wired instructions. (Conditional branches on a pre-stored program computer must have been a bugger, especially with something as fragile and slow as punch tape.) There were known problems with the computer - invalid instructions might do anything - and although it stored 40-bit words, it could only handle the first 32 bits.
  • Re:Jacquard loom (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chief Camel Breeder (1015017) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:05PM (#23371546)
    Yes there are. The carpet-weaving industry in the UK still uses card-programmed looms (I have a friend who is employed to load card decks into the machines).
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:08PM (#23371568) Homepage
    The Harvard Mark 1, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_Mark_I [wikipedia.org], still runs periodically throughout the day in the Harvard science center, IIRC. It was delivered in 1944.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:28PM (#23371720)

    And, not only is it still in existence, it is still running!
    Line 1: Syntax error: testing is not a keyword or identifier.

    Oldest crap in existence.
  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:30PM (#23371736)
    Sort of depends on definition of "still running". If you mean in use when necessary and essentially an unchanged algorithm and logic, we have a lot of FORTRAN code written in the early 60's still running in daily use. I predates Fortran IV, but I would suspect that the same code started in ALGOL and They are generally math function routines (convert Euler Angles to Quaternions, that sort of thing). Originally it was on cards but then implemented into files. I still have some of the card decks. I would guess that with some work I can find some older than that (that is character-wise identical except for the comment cards).

  • by aorangi (947942) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:38PM (#23371790)

    If someone wrote a correct, useful algorithm back then it could very easily still exist today.
    Absolutely. The oldest code I ever came across was the basic algorithms for modelling a super-conductor quenching. I think the original version was written at Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory in about 1968.

    The basic algorithm is still in use today, and at least 50% of all supercon MRI magnets were designed using it.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:40PM (#23371806) Journal
    Hi there Mr. Troll! Too cheap to pay the $5 at Kuro5hin,huh? Well, don't you worry. Hey and you'll be happy to know that John Gabriel at Penny Arcade dedicated some of his artwork just for you! Enjoy ! [penny-arcade.com]

    And for those out there who are wondering what I'm talking about, Kuro5hin recently enacted a $5 "membership" fee because they were being buried alive under a tidal wave of racist trolls. They figured that since trolls are generally cheap bastards that the fee would cause the trolls to move on to Digg,Fark, and yes, Slashdot. So don't be surprised if for the next few weeks you see post after post by impotent Nazi loving Teabaggers. Just make fun of them and they'll eventually move onto Digg.

  • by Skylax (1129403) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @05:59PM (#23371970)
    What about the Sieve of Eratosthenes, an algorithm to calculate prime numbers?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sieve_of_Eratosthenes. It was concieved by Eratosthenes of Cyrene sometime between 276 BCE and 194 BCE. That one's certainly still used somewhere on the planet. [wikipedia.org]

    Oh and here is another one, the "Euclidean algorithm" to calculate the GCD (Greatest Common Divisor). Wikipedia states it's as the oldest algorithm known

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclidean_algorithm [wikipedia.org]

    most certainly also still used today.

    The Egyptians apparently had an algorithm to muliply numbers:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_multiplication [wikipedia.org]

    which is of course much older than the first two but no longer in use today (I guess) so I doesn't count.
  • by crossmr (957846) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:10PM (#23372056) Journal
    Er no it hasn't..
    it was shut down not that long ago:
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=308877 [nationalpost.com]
  • by brusk (135896) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:10PM (#23372058)
    Sputnik 1 was in orbit for only a few months.
  • Jaquard Loom (Score:4, Informative)

    by Whiteox (919863) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:12PM (#23372074) Journal
    Believe it or not, the Jaquard Loom - 1801 (which is still in operation today), is the oldest known powered, programmable 'computer'. It's output is not text or numeration, but textile.
    If there is a hole (or binary 1), it allows thread to go through. So it is digital and not an analog computer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard [wikipedia.org]
    It is debatable if it is a computer, but the original post wanted to know about code running today.
    Well the code is there as punch cards. Each set of cards can make a particular pattern in textiles. Copies of the code still run today.
    Also, Babbage wanted to use a similar punch card system to program his engines.
    Now if we are talking analog computing 'code' then that is a different story. :)
    It's all there folks!
  • by igb (28052) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:23PM (#23372160)
    Wars allow science to have the GDP of medium sized countries. It may not help the science, but it does help the engineering that makes it usable, and it's usable science that then drives the next generation.

    Every morning on my way to work I pass where cavity magentrons were made into practical devices http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavity_magnetron [wikipedia.org] and where the critical mass of Uranium was first deduced http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frisch-Peierls_memorandum [wikipedia.org]. The science didn't need huge budgets: the engineering that followed on from it did. A hour's drive takes me to Bletchley Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bletchley_park [wikipedia.org]); again, the maths didn't need budgets, the engineering that followed did. Radar, atomic weapons and crypto: the spin offs drive a lot of the world today, but the raw science wouldn't have had as much influence without the money that science gives you.


  • Re:A rare topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:34PM (#23372252)
    >If there was a power outage, they might not be able to find the guy to turn on the machine? Then it's time to upgrade.

    If it's a mission-critical system, then power outages aren't a concern: The system itself will have a UPS capable of keeping the system running for quite awhile once main power drops, and also will have a generator of some sort backing that up as well. It starts up after a specified amount of time, far in advance of when the UPS will fail.

    Once mains power drops, and the UPS starts, alerts are generated to those responsible for keeping the system running, and one of the first things that those people will do is call the company that provides their electricity to ascertain the nature of the outage.

    From there, they will arrange for additional fuel for the generator, should the outage be prolonged, and most likely will already have such arrangements in place, if they are doing their jobs properly. In addition, they will start alerting the people in charge of the department(s) that rely upon it, and will keep them informed as well, so that they can plan for it being shut down, should such be required.

    However, for the most critical systems, plans will be in place for a transfer of services off-site, should such be necessary.

    And, again, if it's mission-critical, regardless of its age - all of these things have been planned for, years since, and, if done properly, they are tested on a regular basis as well: Contracts are in place, points of contact as well, and all are updated regularly: Part and parcel of keeping the system running.

    And trust me, if all else fails, and it needs to be shut down, then such has been planned for as well, including having "a guy" available to turn it back on, once reliable power is available.

    In addition, such things as handling "what happens if it breaks" have also been planned for, and that includes migrating, when such is deemed necessary.

    I'm not sure why you got modded up to +5 Insightful, since there's nothing really insightful at all about your post: It reeks of assumptions that simply do not apply in the real world for those of us in IT that actually support mission-critical systems daily, and do so with an eye towards service and availability for those that rely upon them.

    But, this *is* Slashdot: Many here think that those of us in IT exist only to thwart them, because we are clueless, and afraid of their superior "skillz", by their estimation.

    I trust I've proven that such isn't always the case :)

    Captcha: archfool

    That made me laugh - it's an amazingly appropriate summation of my opinion of the parent poster :)

    And I say that with NO anger. If anything, I'm saddened that such a post was found to be insightful by anyone.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:5, Informative)

    by Uerige (206572) <slashdot.cupcake@is-a-geek@net> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @06:54PM (#23372404) Homepage
    is there actually a joke in there?

    The joke is that not only it takes four lines of unintellegible gibberish to do with JCL what we would today write as 'rm my/file/name', but also that, against all odds (and all that is holy), it still works today and is used in the exact same way it was used when somebody's grandfather first wrote it.
  • Re:Easy (Score:4, Informative)

    by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @07:24PM (#23372592) Homepage
    RNA had you beaten, I guess.
  • not hard to guess (Score:4, Informative)

    by tyme (6621) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @08:05PM (#23372802) Homepage Journal
    The oldest extant computer architectures are IBM System/360 (now called System z, but able to run object code from the 360) and Burroughs B5000 descendants (now called Libra). Both architectures date from the early 1960s (1964 for the System/360 and 1961 for the B5000), so we can guess that the oldest running programs date from the same period, or about 40 years ago.

    This also fits well with one of the unwritten requirements of the questions: that there be a language in which to write the lines of code. The earliest computer languages (LISP, COBOL and Fortran) date from only a few years prior to the introductions of these systems (LISP was invented in 1958, COBOL in 1959 and Fortran in 1957).

    This also fits well with a couple of long lived software systems with which I am familiar: The IRS tax return processing system dates from 1964, written in a combination of COBOL and System/360 machine code, it only now being replaced by C++ code (the project is called CADE and has been featured in a number of newspaper articles over the past 10 years as a monumental failure). The airline reservation system, SABER, dates from around 1960 and has been in constant use since it went live in 1964. While SABER was originally written for IBM 7090 mainframes, it was transitioned to System/360 in the early 70s.

    Embedded systems aren't a consideration at this time scale (the first microprocessor didn't appear until 1971), so we don't need to worry that some washing machine from the 1950s is still running some program written at that time. Still, it sounds like the oldest running programs must be about 50 years old.
  • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @08:08PM (#23372818) Homepage
    Actually - it wasn't always this way, although this technology was deployed fairly early in the space program.

    I remember reading an article about one of the earliest Mars probes. Both the US and the USSR launched probes around the same time. However, when the probes began to approach Mars a huge dust storm ensued obscuring most of the surface for quite a while. The US probe was reprogrammable, while the Russian probe was not. The US was able to put their probe into hiberation during the storm, while the Russian probe expended its energy relaying photos of haze.

    So, the value of this ability was proven fairly early in the space program. I'm not sure what the timing was relative to Pioneer but it almost certainly predated Voyager.
  • by Fatalis (892735) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @08:12PM (#23372838) Homepage Journal
    I think there's a quaking aspen that's at least 80 000 years old, if not more. Wikipedia has an article about very old living things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long-living_organisms [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2008 @08:45PM (#23373054)
    I work for IBM, and a few months ago one of our customers (a large, very old, bank and credit card company) reported a bug after migrating to the latest version of our Mainframe OS (z/OS).

    I was the lucky one to get assigned that bug...

    Many posts above have already mentioned IEFBR14 as one of the oldest programs around. And it does indeed get used all the time... but much of the rest of the operating system fits into the same boat in terms of age. If you thought BSD's 25 year old bug was impressive, imagine code that has been around for 40 years from OS/360. (Back then, it was just called "OS".) Most bugs in old code are because new code is doing things that were never expected or imagined... (think what fun it must be to run 24bit code in a 64bit OS.)

    Anyway, back to this customer. Their bug was that one of their programs refused to load and run on the new release. They weren't able to recompile the application because they didn't have the source, and the systems operator didn't know who wrote it originally.

    We had them send in the program for us to review in-house. The program contained a informational segment informing us that it was last assembled in 1974 by IBM's BAL assembler.

    This poor system operator had been given the task of converting all of the old applications to the new mainframe release. Not surprisingly, the vast majority completed without problem. This one program (almost 35 y/o) turned out to be the only headache.

    When we told the customer of the last assembled date, and the fact that these exact bits were probably once stored on PAPER tape, they decided to close out the problem record instead of having us track down and fix the bug.

    There was a comment from the customer to the effect of "We're going to need to rewrite it anyway, the original developer is probably dead."

    Funny thing is, IBM would have fixed the OS for them... z/OS will run programs from OS/360 unmodified, it's a guarantee. I guess not having the source or any real assurance about what the program does will be the death of a lot of code.

    LESSON: If you want your code to outlive you, be sure it comes with lots of very explicit documentation, and the source to update.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by hackstraw (262471) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @08:46PM (#23373070)

    And why should they? It works. It does precisely the job it was designed to do, and continues to do it at at least the level of ability it originally had, often better if the hardware underneath has been upgraded. Something only truly becomes obsolete when it no longer satisfies today's needs. A well designed, task-specific system could theoretically never become obsolete.

    There are tons of engineering/scientific Fortran code out there that is from the Fortran 66 days that is still in use. The code is unchanged because its known to work. Period, and the code can still be compiled and used in new apps. I don't have any examples laying around, but at other jobs I've seen pieces of code that was older than me that was still in use.

    A funny tangent, I saw on Digg earlier today where a bug in BSD was found that was 25 years old. I can't find it now, but I thought that was pretty odd to have such a basic function in reading the contents of a directory being broken for 25 years.

  • Re:A rare topic (Score:2, Informative)

    by geekboy642 (799087) on Sunday May 11, 2008 @09:23PM (#23373308) Journal
         total   used   free   shared buffers cached
    Mem: 1032772 888948 143824 0      66088   397432
    -/+ buffers/cache: 425428 607344
    Swap: 1052216 323804 728412

    Well, let's look at that. 888948 is allocated, which means 143824 is WASTED. You're wasting about 20% of your memory. Period. You should fix your cache settings. Now, you're complaining that your operating system is using too much memory?

    Which requires a question: How much is it actually using: used - buffers - cached, or the number in the second line, which is 425428. Now, that's 425MB for KDE or Gnome, plus a kernel, plus drivers, plus Firefox (easily 300MB on its own). And I notice your swap file is about 30% full, so I'd bet you were recently running more than just DE and browser. Memory isn't released for shared libraries immediately, because chances are another app will want that library soon.

    Care to guess how much RAM my Windows Vista machine takes at idle, minus cache? I'll give you a hint, it's a fuckload more.

  • Re:A rare topic (Score:2, Informative)

    by xarium (608956) <xarium.gmail@com> on Sunday May 11, 2008 @10:40PM (#23373790) Homepage
    Needing to power-down the load in order to replace batteries/fuel in a UPS shows a pretty poor understanding of the word 'uninterruptible'.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by paganizer (566360) <thegrove1@NoSPaM.hotmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @12:06AM (#23374348) Homepage Journal
    I really hate that mindset. That and the "if all your RAM isn't being used, it's going to waste" crowd.
    Kids, if your ancient BMW breaks down and you don't know how to fix it after a cursory glance, do you toss it in the trash and go buy the cheapest possible replacement Hyundai you can find?
    Some would, I understand.
    SOME will take the time and effort to track down someone who knows how to fix the ancient BMW. or even, gasp, learn the skills needed themselves.
  • by brian642 (1150101) on Monday May 12, 2008 @12:11AM (#23374372)
    the NASA/JPL spacecraft was Marinner 9, the USSR spacecraft was Mars 2 and 3 in 1971 http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/past/mariner8-9.html [nasa.gov]
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:4, Informative)

    by lgw (121541) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:01AM (#23374654) Journal
    There are system/390 mainframes well into their second decade of uptime, with no original electrical part still in place. Every board is upgradable as faster hardware comes along, without downtime, and in some of these systems only the actual frame is original.
  • Hard Code? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Monday May 12, 2008 @01:30AM (#23374806) Journal
    If "coding" can include processes implimented in hardware (very hard ware, such as gears) then the WW II Axis crypto machine Enigma and the Allies' SIGABA would qualify. The former was recently replicated, so we know it's design, ie. code, is still valid.

    Of course, if the definition extends to machines of this nature, then Babbages' Difference Engine would probably win. It was designed to be hard coded to solve polynomial functions. It was recently (1991; London Science Museum) built as a working model, so the design/code is proven, but the design/code itself dates to 1822 and was first implimented in 1849. The London machine is still working, so it should qualify as long as hardware coding is included.
  • Re:A rare topic (Score:3, Informative)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:34AM (#23377942) Homepage Journal
    The scary thing is that it's entirely possible that they've had to replace components in that Tandem over the years. It's one of the few systems I've ever seen where you can replace a CPU in a running system with zero interruption to the user processes on the system.

It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground. -- Daniel B. Luten