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Searching for the Oldest Running Application 435

A columnist from InternetWeek has completed a search for the oldest running commercial software application. His results are interesting (note that he's mostly skipping over mainframe applications, just looking at PC-based apps).
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Searching for the Oldest Running Application

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  • by FreeLinux ( 555387 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:56PM (#5865067)
    Hello World!!!
    • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:05PM (#5865172) Homepage
      20 GOTO 10

      And this is filler, since my impersonation of pre-shift key BASIC triggered the lameness filter

      • Re:It's got to be (Score:5, Interesting)

        by plover ( 150551 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:16PM (#5865261) Homepage Journal
        Hey, I modified a thread engineering program for a TRS-80 for a friend's machine shop back in 1981, and wrote them a new version completely from scratch in GW-BASIC in 1982. They are still using it today (although I had to port it to the IBM PC Basic compiler.) I also wrote a brute-force change gear combination searcher that took a few minutes to sift through all their possible gear combinations.

        At least they've upgraded their PCs a few times since then. But the software still runs. It just runs faster (the gear calculator now has the results before the screen refreshes.)

      • by JUSTONEMORELATTE ( 584508 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:45PM (#5865470) Homepage
        Ok, I'll confess -- My line 10 was really "PRINTLN "I LOVE AMY MCCRACKEN"
        It was the 3rd grade, what did you expect?

      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:18PM (#5865683) Homepage Journal
        20 GOTO 10

        That's going to produce 0HELLO WORLD as repeating output, which I don't think is what you want. LN is an uninitialized variable. PRINTLN isn't a valid command, but it'll get interpreted as PRINT LN, which will display as 0.

        (The scary part is that I fired up Applewin to verify those results...I was going to fire back ?SYNTAX ERROR IN 10 as a reply. I have no life. :-) )

    • WordStar (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Latent Heat ( 558884 )
      I am still running WordStar to type up my billing invoices, although I admit it is WordStar 4 rather than the original 1982 vintage PC-DOS WordStar. By the way, the Borland IDE's (Delphi, etc) were pretty WordStar compatible for the longest time, but I haven't checked lately if they still recognize all the ^KB, ^KK, and all that.
      • Re:WordStar (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ooblek ( 544753 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:03PM (#5865592)
        You're not the only one. I've run into a few people using wordstar over the years. One was a guy using it on Win95 to keep track of old correspondence. The other, if you can believe it, was my computer science college professor that ran it under one of the Windows emulators for Linux!

        But, by far, the oldest app I've seen was an audio console fader automation system. WordStar may pre-date it in history, but these were 8086 machines with Seagate st-225 20MB hard drives that ran Xenix. They were probably rarely turned off since the early '80s because they recorded and played back the fader movements on an early automated recording console. Everyone was afraid to turn them off in case the hard drives didn't spin back up.

        Come to think of it, the timeframes of when the software and hardware was available may place it into the mid- to late- 80s, but I'm sure it caught up for hours running in that time after being powered up for so long.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:45PM (#5865475)
      i've been running this:
      JMP .LOOP
      on my commodore 64 since 1983. i'm still waiting for it to finish. maybe if i got a faster computer.
  • Mainframe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:56PM (#5865071) Homepage Journal
    note that he's mostly skipping over mainframe applications, just looking at PC-based apps

    That makes a biiig difference. I'm contracted out to a bank that has a mainframe system thats been in operation for around 30 years, beating the program her found.
    • video games too. somewhere out there there's a working space invaders that beats it too
    • Re:Mainframe (Score:5, Informative)

      by EdgeShadow ( 665410 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#5865192)
      Don't mean to be nitpicky, but if you'd bothered to read the whole article you'd have noticed that he mentioned a mainframe program called DATAMOD that dates back to October 1971, which is over 30 years ago. As the main focus of his article was PC applications, however, his article did not give much information on mainframe apps.
    • Re:Mainframe (Score:4, Interesting)

      by iocat ( 572367 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#5865193) Homepage Journal
      My girlfriend's mom wrote some of the first conversions of actuarial tables to mainframe, from books, in the 1950s and 1960s (all done w/ punch cards and machine language, of course) at a life insurance company in Mass. The company was still running a lot of her orgininal code when she retired a couple of years ago.
      • by orthogonal ( 588627 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:23PM (#5865321) Journal
        My girlfriend's mom wrote some of the first conversions of actuarial tables to mainframe, from books, in the 1950s and 1960s (all done w/ punch cards and machine language, of course) at a life insurance company in Mass. The company was still running a lot of her orgininal code when she retired a couple of years ago.

        This is obviously an apocryphal story.

        Who can spot the inconsistancy that gives this fakery away?


        We all know /.'ers don't have girlfriends.

        • by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:34PM (#5865405)
          Hey now.. A lot of slashdotters have girlfriends.. They just don't look like girls.
          • by dubbreak ( 623656 )
            Hey now.. A lot of slashdotters have girlfriends.. They just don't look like girls.

            More like a CRT with wires to a grey box with led's and optical drives? The only reason i have a gf is she hasn't read my browser history.. "Oh, you read slashdot?" (puts shirt back on, walks out door).. Now if she found out i posted as well...
    • The LEO, redux (Score:3, Informative)

      by sysjkb ( 574960 )
      Apropos of the Leo mentioned in a previous slashdot story.

      I saved this post from alt.folklore.computers in 1998. Terribly impressive. I'm not sure his age estimate is neccessarily accurate -- the final incarnation of the Leo ceased to be manufactured in the latter half of the 60s, so it may be a bit younger.

      On the other hand, I wouldn't put it past some organization having been forced to make something like the orange leo y2k compliant.

      Yours Truly,
      Jeffrey Boulier

      From: Deryk Barker (dbarker@camo
  • by Xandar01 ( 612884 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:57PM (#5865076) Journal
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:57PM (#5865086)
    On a 8088. It works so why change. Which is actually really true. Sometimes why do you need to upgrade to a faster computer if all you want to do is run 1 application that is simple and does the job quite well. Lotus 123 for DOS on an 8088 is quite stable and fast to. (it feels faster then running excel on a 1ghz system) The 8088 and lotus 123 is bassicly the right tool for the right job. Why complain or tinker with it.
    • by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:14PM (#5865237) Homepage
      bassicly the right tool for the right job. Why complain or tinker with it.

      You must be new here... [/tongueincheek]

    • so it can read email.
    • I actually have (in a box in my room) Lotus 123 for the PCjr. A few floppies and two cartridges!

      Unfortunately, the PCjr itself died a few years back.
    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:52PM (#5865524) Journal
      Sometimes, it really does amaze me that the computer industry is so worked up over what to do with recycling of old systems and all the computers getting thrown in the garbage - yet they act like getting more use out of the older ones isn't possibly an option.

      I'm currently working for a small company that reclaims and refurbishes old Apple Mac systems (everything from the black and white 9" screen SE's and Classics to the first generation of PowerMacs). People give the things to us for free all the time, since they're written off as useless junk. In fact, we're able to get them configured as pretty nice little "starter" systems for students, small children, and public-access machines for the elderly in retirement homes.

      Some of the best "classic" games and educational titles of all time ran on these computers, and there's no reason a 3 or 4 year old kid today won't find them just as exciting as kids did back when these machines first came out!

      Remember Oregon Trail? How about KidPix, Print Shop Deluxe, Lode Runner, Prince of Persia, and all the Scholastic educational games/software?

      For the older folks, there's plenty of great freeware and shareware: monopoly, GNU chess (who even needs a color screen for chess?), backgammon, card games, Shanghai (the matching tile game), and much more.

      Claris Works runs quite well on the old Macs too, and gives students a real inexpensive solution for typing papers, not to mention simple spreadsheets.

      At some point in time, I plan on putting together a nice system build for old DOS machines too, full of kids' games and educational titles - and see if we can't give some old 8088's and 286/386 machines a new life too.

      Those old systems were built like tanks compared to what's offered today. Look at how heavy a real IBM keyboard (or machine) is! Small children aren't going to break one of those as easily as they will some cheap eMachines mini-tower.
    • by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki.cox@net> on Friday May 02, 2003 @07:03PM (#5865919)
      Wait till the drive releases it's magic smoke, or wait until the CPU calls it quits. While it's been reliable, it'll eventually fry itself out...
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @07:18PM (#5865973)
      The situation I always like to bring up is libraries. A perfectly aceptable method for doing research that worked for year and years was card catalogues and physically searching through journals. You can still do it, there is no reason why it doesn't work. However, it is MUCH more efficient to have a computer do the search for you, and better still if the whole journal is electronic so you can do full text searches, and just download the article straight to your computer.

      Our university has done this. The physical card catalogue has been completely eliminated, all searches are electronic now. Also, while there are still floors of physical journals, many of the popular ones are available in PDF format for download.

      It is amazing how much more efficient it makes research. It's even better because I can tie it in to databases of things that aren't even contained in this particular library.

      Some times people get so caught up in the fact that the way they do something "works just fine" that they miss the fact that there is a much more efficient way to do it.
      • Time marches on (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SunPin ( 596554 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @08:56PM (#5866486) Homepage
        I still play Nuclear War (1989) and I think Project Space Station (1987) was one of the best strategy games ever--a precursor of RTS. But I am addicted to multi-tasking and I am quite fond of the research efficiency gains you point out.

        Most people don't need to upgrade and become a slave to hype. I'm running everything off a 800 MHz system (4 years) and I intend to squeeze the last drop of energy out of it(8 years or more). I'm not on a more modern system or OS because Mr. Bill Gates slammed the door on my Dragon Dictate system... a 1997 discrete speech program that doesn't get along with XP.

        Why would people upgrade these days? High quality RAM, a decent video card and a decent hard drive will handle everything for people that don't give a flying fsck about games and are mature enough to just stay put. I'll probably get a flat panel monitor within the next couple years but that fits with one of my subobjectives--don't get a PC that consumes so much power that it burns my house down.
  • by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:58PM (#5865092) Homepage
    ...reasons for why really old software/hardware is still in use today. Many people complain that businesses are using heavily outdated software and hardware. These complaints claim that using outdated tools indicates lethargy on the part of the business or organization. However, that is not always so.

    Idealy, when programmers write code or engineers design systems, they do it with the ages in mind. While plenty of software developers think that code is throw-away, there are some like myself who like to write enduring code. Perhaps a lot of these ancient systems were just designed so well that their obsolescence is still a long ways off. In that case, the oldest software and hardware is probably to be the most coveted. You usually don't find systems or software today that lasts for decades (and if you're on Microsoft's leash, you're lucky if your software lasts for a year).

    It'd be really interesting to see the results. Are these systems really good or are the owners just really lazy?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#5865176)
      Idealy, when programmers write code or engineers design systems, they do it with the ages in mind.

      Knowingly or unknowingly, you have said something really insightful there. I had an "aha" moment after reading your comment. Consider a Microsoft programmer working on Windows 2003. He knows that Microsoft is already working on the new improved Windows 2005, and the developer on Windows 2005 knows that plans are already under way for Windows 2007.

      Now where is the motivation to build reliability and security into the system when you know the code you are writing will not have a usage of more than two years (or so Microsoft hopes, since ideally they would like everyone to upgrade to the version du juor instantly).

      No wonder the products that come out seem like they were written in a half baked manner.

      • by Blaine Hilton ( 626259 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:14PM (#5865241) Homepage
        This though fits right into our society's view on everything being disposable.
      • by Textbook Error ( 590676 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:37PM (#5865432)
        Consider a Microsoft programmer working on Windows 2003. He knows that Microsoft is already working on the new improved Windows 2005, and the developer on Windows 2005 knows that plans are already under way for Windows 2007.

        Do you really think they throw it away each time? Unless you're working on something that's pure marketing fluff, code written for one release has a very good chance of being around in the future.

        It's a law of nature that code always lives longer than you expect - the cost of throwing things away and rewriting from scratch is almost always worse than the downside of massaging it to deal with the next requirement. It's the mark of good software that it's ameanable to that - unless you're writing a throw-away bit of toy code for yourself, you should assume that anything you check in is probably going to be around in some form for years...

        Happened to me recently when doing consultancy work for a company I used to work for 10 years ago. They still have modules which are pretty much unchanged since I wrote them way back when as a new grad, minus the inevitable bug fixes and new features.
    • by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:06PM (#5865181) Homepage Journal
      The cost of upgrading is also a major factor. I work with financial institutes, many which use mainframes and some with cobol programmers, etc. All the backend systems still work, work in a reliable time, and have yet to really break. Why spend the tens of millions of dollars and the years to upgrade to a new high-end DB, and reprogram an entire backend to a system which isn't broke in the firstplace?? And, if you decide to change, how secure are you to copy over the financies for hundreds of thousands of people and ensure that you aren't creating lawsuits (missing money) or pissing off the SEC (bad reports due to corrupt data)?
    • by denissmith ( 31123 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:33PM (#5865395)
      As someone who currently runs 1 app on DOS and two apps on Windows 3.11 and has to support NT 4.0 and Mac OS 9 there are a few issues, in addition to the very accurate ones that you state.
      I manage a facility that does high-end graphics printing, and if I have a printer that is 12 years old and still makes brilliant prints, but it hasn't been marketed in 10 years then no one will write modern software to support it. So I'm "stuck" with DOS. The issue that worries me, then, is massive hadware failure on the PC, cause I have to find a pre-PCI bus computer. The second issue is data format closure ( read proprietary data formats and character settings) until we have ISO character support and XML or open data storage standards we can't have real data portability, and without data portability you are trapped in a legacy codebase. It is probably a well written peice of software ( or you wouldn't have built so much of your company around it) but it is still a trap. PROPRIETARY data formats are always a trap.
    • by Total_Wimp ( 564548 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:39PM (#5865439)
      Witness UNIX and it's clones. MS would have you believe that running an OS or using programing tools from 1995 is wrong but I somehow don't think everyone around here would agree.

  • by Dirk Pitt ( 90561 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:58PM (#5865098) Homepage
    My chiropractor is still using Medi-Soft on his 286-10MHz with 512-Kbit RAM and an old 40-Mbyte drive, running DOS 5. He refuses to spend the time to learn something new.

    Yeah, that's a guy I want to be adjusting my back. Probably doesn't believe in that 'new fangled' aspirin for aches, either.

  • by iocat ( 572367 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:58PM (#5865103) Homepage Journal
    Hey slashdot community, what's the oldest program you've seen running at the office or home, not counting classic games? Personally I've been using Bank Street Filer on Apple //c (c. 1983) to catalog my game collection, just for kicks. Most of my collection is classic games, so it seems appropriate...
    • well, if I fired up my C64 (with Star NP10 dotmatrix printer) I could have Bank Street Writer running....
      • I still have a 5.25" floppy with BSW for MS-DOS 1.0 on it somewhere.

        I had the Apple //e version as well, but I have no idea where that floppy went ....
    • Re:How about you? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ncc74656 ( 45571 )

      Hey slashdot community, what's the oldest program you've seen running at the office or home, not counting classic games? Personally I've been using Bank Street Filer on Apple //c (c. 1983) to catalog my game collection, just for kicks.

      I still log vehicle maintenance (oil changes, repairs, etc.) in some spreadsheets under AppleWorks 3.0 (released in 1989). As simple as the data are in the files, I could just move them to text files and edit them with Notepad, but it gives me an excuse to fire up the IIG

  • lharc.exe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:59PM (#5865105)
    I'm still using lharc.exe by good ol Yoshi.

    The archives are a little larger, and it does not take the longer file names, but for compressing one or two files it is much smaller and much easier to use than old dos PKZip (which needs 3 much larger files to do what lharc.exe does) or any Winzip version.
    • 7zip (Score:2, Informative)

      by svallarian ( 43156 )
      Have you tried 7zip yet? Freeware and handles long file names in dos + has a nice gui version that will handle rar, zip, and lots others.

      Steven V.

  • by vivek7006 ( 585218 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @04:59PM (#5865114) Homepage
    "The winner will receive $25"

    I bet he must have got gazillion entries ..
    • The winner, the guy running and using the oldest software, didn't get the 25 bucks! He gave it to the developer, who is not currently supporting the application.

      What a rip off.
  • by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:00PM (#5865121) Journal
    Definitely the Blue Screen of Death!
  • My father got a 286 in 1990 and had a custom accounting software package made then for his office. Cost him some 300 $ then.

    The 286 was junked 2 years back but the the software still runs in the office on a pentium 100 and my computer too(as a backup). Other than bringing it upto date for y2k, the code is the same.
  • by BlindSpot ( 512363 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:02PM (#5865140)
    Well we know it's definitely NOT his web server!
  • by Openadvocate ( 573093 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:02PM (#5865146)
    I can submit Scorched Earth [] myself. I had totally forgotten that my PC had an internal speaker until I ran it.
  • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:03PM (#5865149) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Flight Simulator: A Century of Flight [].

    I'd say 100 years is a fairly long-running app.

  • Lazy IS staff (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jwhitener ( 198343 )
    Sounds like some of these places just have plain lazy IS staff. I mean, take that office still using an ancient form of Lotus notes. The excuse, "cause the mainframe can't handle uploads in any other format" or some such nonsense. You don't place the burden of old mainframe technology on the users front end.
    Any large company thats been around a while is going to have a legacy system here or there, its up to the IS staff to interface the old with the new.
    • That presumes that the IS staff is up to that work, that the cost of the additional work necessary is going to be defrayed by additional productivity of the people using the applications.

      One of the problems with upgrading to Excel is that in current and upcomming versions the file format is proprietary and may not lend itself to backwards porting to a format that the programmers can work with. Breaking up Excell workbooks and saving each page as a Lotus Spreadsheet, or better yet a csv file, takes training
  • Damn (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unicron ( 20286 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:08PM (#5865194) Homepage
    In the entrance to my work, we have little pc set up running a dos based virus scanner app. It's been there for at LEAST 10 years. I've never seen a single person use it. About 2 weeks ago they FINALLY got rid of it. I have NEVER seen monitor burn that looked like the app had gone monochrome but it was still plain as day.
  • by reezle ( 239894 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:11PM (#5865221) Homepage
    I read the article the other way.
    I'm thinking it might be much more interesting to throw the mainframes, etc back into the fray, and find the oldest continually running app...

    It just might turn out to be a copy of Novell server sitting in somebody's closet, or inside a wall... []

    I suppose we'd need to qualify exactly what an application is, and perhaps we'd find an example where it didn't meet the criteria when switched on way-back-when, but has had bits added to it along the way, and now does?
  • Old software... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Warui Kami ( 104676 )
    I did some contract work for someone (names hidden to protect the innocent) last year who was using a database package named CornerStone (I think).

    This program was written by the people at InfoGames for internal use in the early 80s and then sold as a product starting in 1984 or so.

    I was called in when his Pentium-class machine he'd been running dos 6.2 on died and he needed either a replacement or the program hacked to run on newer OSes. It turned out that it would not run on FAT32 or NTFS partitions, o
  • One large retail company I worked for as a DBA still used a version of well-known DOS database package which can't have been last updated any later than 1990, and was probably much older. The floor of the office dealing with their product line had an office intercom and klaxon system - so that all of the employees could be informed when they needed to quit the database software (every 10 minutes or so) because the system wouldn't handle multiple users and they needed to syncronise the managed copy with a wo
  • unix? or DOS? ls and dir have been used for ages both on servers and desktops.
  • My Mom is a paralegal and still uses some DOS word processor on an old 286 with a 5" floppy to type letters and legal stuff. She's got a PC running Windows 98 in the same room, but won't use it. She says she can get a letter printed from the DOS app (wish I knew what it was) before she can get Word open.

    I've always used Macs, and tried to tell her how much easier the GUI the GUI would make everything. (Though I didn't know how to get all of her old files onto the new PC with that tiny 3.5 floppy.) Then I w
    • Re:My Mom (Score:5, Interesting)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:06PM (#5865607) Journal
      Hey, I've been saying since the first release of Windows 3.0 -- if you're working solely with text, you're going to be better off in a text environment!

      In a way, I think Windows took a step backwards when they eliminated MS-DOS and made Windows the whole OS. I mean, getting rid of the old 16-bit DOS code made sense, but things might have been more flexible if they just put some work into a major DOS upgrade - and made Windows '9x launch from DOS optionally, like Win 3.x did.

      Look at all the work MS had to put into making the DOS compatibility layer run as many older apps as possible. Instead of that, I would have preferred a Win environment with no "DOS commnand prompt" or "DOS box" of any kind. If you want to run DOS apps, you just do it without typing "win" to start Windows up.

      The GUI does make things easier for *desktop publishing*, where you're working with multiple fonts and graphics interspersed with your text. For "typewriter simulating", like most offices still do with their computers, a GUI is just needless overhead!
  • Here's a clip from the comments I found in a program to calculate Sun rise & sun set:

    ** SUN.C Version 1.0 Michael Schwartz December 25, 1984

    I've only modified it slightly to correct for float and double. I still use it in my Home Automation software to calculate Sunrise/Sunset. Hey it works well.
  • I still run Quicken 5. It's a lot faster and more intuitive than the newer versions, and I don't have to deal with Intuit's new DRM and spyware. I back up the whole program and all 6 years of data on a single floppy.

    ProfQuotes []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:22PM (#5865310)
    Well you'd better go catch it!

  • Paradox 4.5 for DOS,
    Lotus 123R3 (DOS),
    We had (up 'til last month) a Win 3.1 machine (a 486) on our network (Great Plains Dynamics for DOS),
    and within the last 3 years have finally killed off the old Novell 3.12 servers (replaced with Novell 5 and 6).

    You want old? We got old...
  • It's SyncSort (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:24PM (#5865326) Homepage
    The oldest commercial application, i.e. one sold as a software product, is SyncSort. [] SyncSort was one of the very first commercial third-party software applications. It was also the first to be patented. SyncSort, Inc. was formed in 1969.

    SyncSort was the first useful sort program to break the O(N log N) barrier (yes, this is possible, CS101 kiddies). This was a huge win for mainframe shops with their big tape-to-tape sort jobs. That's what all those spinning tape reels were doing on early computers. SyncSort cut days off some batch jobs.

    You can buy current versions of SyncSort. The old versions for IBM mainframes are still available, and you can get it as an Active-X control for Windows. So that's a 34-year old product, little changed in decades and still doing a useful job today.

    I did maintenance programming on a competitive product, UNIVAC Exec II Sort/Merge, around 1969. SyncSort was faster. They really did have a better, and patented, algorithm.

    • Re:It's SyncSort (Score:5, Informative)

      by Quixote ( 154172 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:53PM (#5865531) Homepage Journal
      > SyncSort was the first useful sort program to break the O(N log N) barrier (yes, this is possible, CS101 kiddies).

      Just because it uses radix sort it doesn't mean it isn't O(N log N). The radix itself is O(log N); you have to look at each entry at least once.

      Remember, we're talking theoretical issues here (since you brought up the O(.) notation).

  • Go outside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by teetam ( 584150 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:26PM (#5865343) Homepage
    Go outside USA and you will find tons of such applications still being used.

    Remember, only in the Western world is software/hardware cheap when measured against the cost of living.

    In India, for example, a cheap PC would cost more than what most people earn in a month. I bet there would be many schools and homes with old PCs and software simply because it costs too much to upgrade.

  • by Larry_Dillon ( 20347 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:30PM (#5865365) Homepage
    It's not the oldest, but I still put Norton Commander for DOS (circa 1989) on boot floppies. A two pane file browser, an editor and lap-link file transfer in under 80K.

    If I still had an older version, it did most of the same stuff in about 53k. it was from around 1985.
  • Ok I was going to use my final moderator point on this but i found far too many offtopics for me to do it. I do belive the longets running application they are looking for is the LONGEST STILL RUNNING from start to today. Like uptime but just a single application.
    There was reciently the longest running computer hunt and now i suppose they want the longest running application. Im sure its going to be a database or a print or file server of some kind but you never know, someone may still have Word running a
  • NT4 Uptime? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by de la mettrie ( 27199 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:32PM (#5865379)
    One reader sent me screenshots to prove that his Windows NT v4 server is still up and running of 1,079 days with nary a reboot, and being used to serve up IP addresses for about 3,500 client workstations.

    Just the far end of the bell curve? A quick photoshop job on the screenshots? Or... maybe Windows is of some use as a server OS after all?
    • Re:NT4 Uptime? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:59PM (#5865562) Homepage
      I'd say it's more a function of the service (DHCP?) than anything. You can't much simpler than DHCP. I'd never expect to see an NT domain controller, file/print server, Exchange, or IIS server make it more than a couple of months without a reboot.

      That's like being proud of a UNIX/Linux server for having a 3-year uptime when all it does is serve ntp queries! The lack of a power interruption is more impressive than the machine staying up.

  • TeX (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Submarine ( 12319 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:34PM (#5865404) Homepage
    Most mathematicians and computer scientists use a program called TeX [] to typeset their papers. TeX takes a .tex file as input and spits out a .dvi file, which can be postprocessed by drivers to produce PostScript or PDF files. TeX was written by professor Donald Knuth [] of Stanford University; the current version is still essentially similar to the 1983 version!

    TeX has a horrible syntax and funky limitations, but there are so many available packages for it (such as LaTeX and the associated packages) as well as external applications (BibTeX) and tons of mathematical files made for it that it just cannot be replaced.

    Some crazy people [] even use TeX to []
    typeset a newspaper and a personnel directory.
  • Law Firms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Scot Seese ( 137975 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:35PM (#5865413)
    I did some work for a law firm a few years ago. They were using an MS-DOS package called "Juris" to handle all their time billing. As you can imagine, this was the #1 priority mission-critical application for them. Juris is allegedly the 800 pound gorilla in the legal sector.

    IIRC, Juris was written in 1986, or something like that. The company that makes it was getting ready to roll out a "test" version now featuring - WINDOWS support. *Gasp!* This was a few years ago.

    I wager that the oldest running application is probably in a factory somewhere, producing something very low tech. Like an 8088 hooked up to a lathe trimming brown rubber toilet plunger bulbs. Those manufacturing guys rarely upgrade, and arguably never need to.

  • Somebody from INRIA [] (a computer science institute) told me that their accounting services run an old COBOL program to process the pay. The engineers who wrote the code are now retired...
    • ... and because nobody's left who understands it, unknownst to the company, the original authors still receive their full paycheck in the mail every every week, even though 2 of them are deceased :-)
  • i want to know who the oldest living slashdot poster is ;-)
  • by gregor-e ( 136142 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:43PM (#5865464) Homepage
    My oldest still running apps are embedded in products that were introduced in 1983, performing oil and gas well monitoring and control. Solar-powered, Z80 microprocessors, deployed waaay out in the middle of nowhere. I suspect this code will continue to run until the hardware fails or the well runs dry.
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:43PM (#5865466) Journal
    One of the things I suppose validated (for Steve Wozniak) the Apple I and lives on in the iPod is the game; breakout.

    But, how old is Visicalc [] for the Apple II IIe or even I - wasn't it the first app for the Apple or maybe Turtle?

    I believe the date for these programs would be 1977. (Visicalc 1979)

    I know of several college professors at Clemson that use Apple IIe's for milk volume analysis and "calling" the cows in for milking at the Lamaster dairy Agricultural arm of Clemson too. I also know one professor that still uses VisiCalc.

  • by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:48PM (#5865493) Homepage
    When I was working in Mexico in the mid-90s as an independent consultant one of my clients (a small hospital in northern Mexico) had an application that they used to track patient payments. I'm not sure what it was based on, maybe dBase? Anyway, it used some sort of database. But it's possible it was propietary.

    This was 1994-ish and the IT guy there told me that they had been running that thing for about 7 years. That means it had been in use since '87 or so.

    About four months ago I got an email from one of my old subcontractors, who is now employed full time at that hospital (which is not small anymore). His note was unrelated to this application, which I did not touch or otherwise use. He was asking me somethng about one of the other systems I did work on there. But he mentioned it in passing, and I just remembered when I saw this article.

    So that means that they've been using it for the better part of 15-16 years.

    When you're third world, you tend to keep stuff around until it breaks =)

  • I win (Score:3, Funny)

    by blitzoid ( 618964 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:49PM (#5865501) Homepage
    I have an ancient Abacus that was bought from an medievel marketplace - and I still use it to do my business tax!
  • Oh, man... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by A_Non_Moose ( 413034 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:49PM (#5865505) Homepage Journal
    do I feel old at the mention of "PIM"...those were gaining popularity when I got into computers (1993'ish) while in college.

    About 5 years back (maybe longer) I worked for a company that moved off an HP 1000 for their cad/cam and accounting/payroll for the sewing plant.

    Know what finally did the HP 1000 in? Not backups, not parts, not software or ability to function...but politics!

    (sigh) {
    Was a few more paragraphs that got eaten from clicking a link in my mail client...frack! grrr!}
  • by dark&stormynight ( 69479 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @05:50PM (#5865515)
    Speaking of "oldest" tech would be interesting to find out what the oldest telephone number in continuous use in the US is or the oldest email address.
  • Tandy 102 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:00PM (#5865569) Homepage Journal
    Here at my desk I have a Tandy 102, circa early 1980's (NOT my primary machine). Its OS is by Microsoft, and is reported to contain the last production code BillG personally worked on. A few K of RAM, a few K of ROM, and an 8(I think) line, 40-column screen. You can see some of the bad ideas which were stolen from CPM and enshrined in DOS, like 8.3 filenames (files in RAM) and the three letter filename extension gives file type.

    It still works, and its spreadsheet easily uses relative cell references. That nifty little feature seems to have gotten lost in MS's spreadsheets between then and now. Today, one of my cow orkers needed to do something in a spreadsheet ... ``relative references!'' I told him. Half an hour later, none of us could figure out how to do it in Excel.

    Sometimes, the old stuff is good enough to warrent putting up with its limitations. In this case, maybe not. But MS's spreadsheets have gone way downhill since the early '80's.

  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:16PM (#5865673)
    From the article: "They can't really upgrade their NetWare servers because they have production applications that run on the older versions, you know, those older versions that still make use of IPX, a protocol that Novell has moved away from. Their clients are all a mishmash and need to be refreshed, but they figured they would wait until they could roll out a new version of Windows. Plus, to make matters worse, there was a period of about a year when they didn't have anyone on staff who really knew Novell"

    Novell has not moved away from IPX. It has been and still will be supported in future versions. I'm teaching 6.0 and it still uses IPX/SPX for several functions. They need an admin with a clue!

  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @06:51PM (#5865868)
    I visited Neumann [] in Berlin and they used a Commodore PET and some ancient software to measure the frequency response of microphones in their anechoic chamber. This was several years ago but I believe they still use it.

    They also used a 40+ year old measurement microphone to calibrate it.


  • Old source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Friday May 02, 2003 @07:19PM (#5865979)
    It is not running the software, but I am stil intermittenlty patching code whose copyringht statement at the head (written by me) says "Copyright 1984. We still have users of that software, they still find bugs with new hardware, we still fix them. Admittedly, that 1984 software is not much in use, but 1994 software is still definitely mainstream support (the article regards Win98 as incredibly old).
  • by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Friday May 02, 2003 @09:14PM (#5866570)
    From the article: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." And that's as correct as anything I've ever heard.

    Here at my job, we have such a mixture of different computers dating from the '70's to just two months ago. To squeeze every possible bit of value out of the money we spend, this company has never put a computer out of commission, partly because doing so could wreak havoc on our system, considering how ad hoc it is, characteristic of things that started out small and then grew, and grew, and grew. That's how our network is... and nobody around here is brave enough to make drastic changes.

    Besides, we've got a huge investment in various software packages and custom programs that translate data between them. These run on so many different hardware configurations and operating systems that it isn't even funny.

    In fact, the way some computers are attached to each other is funny... there are the old coaxial cables, there are newer cat5 cables, there are RS232 cables and "LapLink" cables. Hell, there are even little boards that one of our guys here built in his garage some years ago, to get some of our older dinosaurs communicating. Each of these things was put into place one by one, to solve a very particular short term problem, each turned into a very permanent part of our organization, and all are still functional and are being used extensively.

    There are a bunch of newer boxes here, made out of computer scraps that people have "donated" over the years, running Linux, and in my spare time I like to write scripts to automate all kinds of repetitive tasks. I like the way our network is because it gives the thing a lot of character, kind of like old towns have, as opposed to cities that are engineered onto a huge grid. And I like to think of this network as a town in the wild west... It's so much fun to screw around with these petty things, but then, we all bring our junk cars and old hot rods into work on the weekends to fix them, or to take parts off and sell them; we all have this way of doing petty little shit all the time, and believe me, we love every moment of it!

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents