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1980s Commodore Has Controlled Michigan School District's A/C for 30 Years

Commodore Amiga 2000 | Image: Trafalgarcircle


The Amiga 2000 was released by Commodore in 1987 and discontinued in 1991. By computer standards, the system is ancient history. Yet in Grand Rapids School District in Grand Rapids, Michigan, an Amiga 2000 has run the heat and air conditioning of its schools day and night, without incident since it was installed in the 1980s. As of now, 19 schools rely on the nearly three-decades-old machine. The system's 1200-bit modem and wireless radio signal enables it to communicate with the district's schools.

Read more and see a video news report on this story at Geek.com.


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...and then people would be forced to speak with one another, teenagers would have to learn face-to-face courtesy, and people would actually keep their eyes on the road while driving? Terrible.
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It really only sounds odd because it's a whole standalone computer. If you said "Michigan school district's A/C controlled by Z80 (processor) for past 30 years!" nobody would bat an eyelash, and it wouldn't be even slightly unusual.
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Having seen this kind of thing first-hand, the headline just screams "We invested in equipment with a proprietary, undocumented interface, and now we're stuck!" Because it's the easiest thing in the world to migrate a controller to a newer platform if you have the documentation, and it's huge nightmare to keep such uncommon old systems up and running. The littlest thing, like replacing a keyboard, or debugging a simple intermittent connection failure on an old, discontinued system becomes a massive and frustrating ordeal.

Meanwhile, if they had instead used a Unix-based system, like a Sun 68k workstation, it would have been pretty easy to upgrade to modern equivalents, and easy to find hardware, software, and people to continue to maintain it. Ditto for PCs running DOS, though in both cases the choice is infinitely easier to see in retrospect.
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A couple months ago I went through my company's basement and sent to recycle several Compaq computers. OMG they were solid and HEAVY! Old school rules :)
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