What we can learn from vintage computing #Retrocomputing #VintageComputing @github

Thanks to open source, no technology ever has to become obsolete, so long as a community remains to support it. You can sync Newtons and Palm Pilots with modern desktops, download web browsers for long-discontinued operating systems, or connect vintage computers like the Apple IIe to the modern internet via WiFi. Every year, new cartridges are released for old-school video game consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy.

People keep old software and online platforms alive as well. The dial-up bulletin board system software WWIV is still maintained and there are plenty of BBSes still around. Teams are working to restore aspects of early online services like AOL and Prodigy. And you can still use Gopher, the hypertext protocol that was — for a brief period in the early 1990s — bigger than the web.

There’s nothing quite like actually navigating through a service’s menu structure and interacting with its various features to understand these services and their place in computing history.

Developers spend countless hours on these sorts of projects, often with little, if any, hope of financial reward. So why dedicate so much effort keeping these technologies alive, or reviving them, long after they were discontinued by the companies that created them? Nostalgia and the urge to escape today’s often exhausting digital environments are obvious reasons.

But there’s more to it than that. Working with vintage technologies is fun, helps developers learn more about computer science, and preserves computing history. And in many cases there are lessons to be learned from the “old ways.”

Read more on the ReadME Project on GitHub.

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