[vcf-midatlantic] Help with installing 1980s DOS program

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Fri May 17 11:00:08 EDT 2019

> Devin Heitmueller: I would assume there's a good chance that the user isn't so much
> interested in using an ancient word processor for nostalgia, but
> rather to gain access to some old documents.
> Evan Koblentz: Nope. He refuses to upgrade! He had it running for eons on XP, then that
> went haywire, so he was desperate for someone to get it back running for
> him.

Evan is correct. That is, this user wants what he wants for the reasons 
Evan stated; and not as Devin speculated. This caught my attention, 
because I resell old Macintosh computer parts and systems. "Old" as in 
68K and PowerPC based, 1980's and 1990's.

While many of my customers are just playing with old Macs for nostalgia, 
or for non-use interest; a good number of them are "desperately" trying 
to keep their original, now-vintage systems running with now-vintage 

Why? 1) they have a stable environment, which they learned to use. It 
supported their line of business or work for decades. It still does. So 
there's no intrinsic (look it up) reason to change.

2) "modern" programs on modern computers add complexity or undesired 
features. The MS-DOS environment was either pure command-line, or used 
an 80 X 24 text display (in color sometimes) and "escape sequences" on 
the keyboard to navigate that screen. Or, yeah, a mouse. For touch 
typists, and for users who do repetitive work, keystrokes are faster 
than a mouse. Oh - and no networking needed.

2a) Some modern equivalents of now-vintage programs, can't do what the 
old programs did. Or they do something different. That's annoying to 
persons who find it hard to change their established habits. It's more 
than annoying, when you don't get the results you want from a "new" 
program. The forms look wrong, the images aren't the same, the 
calculations aren't the same. Sometimes that matters.

 From a business point of view, they would find it hard to rework 
"scripts" and forms to perform the same tasks. Or worse, hard to find 
someone able to both understand the "old" and provide the "new". *And*, 
provide patient training and support, to the now-new user of this new 
set of hardware, operating system, software... on and on.

I don't offer any of that service, by the way. And many of these 
customers know, if they try to go the "replace everything" route, they 
will be abandoned with new stuff that won't work for them; and old stuff 
that's now "broken" and doesn't work either. In short: total failure. 
That's their view, and who am I to argue otherwise? Without offering to 
fix it?

2b) For some who use their computers with embedded equipment - say a 
mass spectrometer - they *can't* change the programming. Or possibly 
they can't change the hardware interface, or internal bus-hardware card 
(NuBus in the case of desktop Macs, ISA for old PC's, etc.)

3) Given the decades of use so far, these users simply want to run the 
clock out. They will retire soon; why make efforts to change everything, 
only to walk away from it a few years from now? And when the new-person 
will simply abandon whatever they've left behind, most likely? "We don't 
do that anymore, it was obsolete and the person retired."

You-all should get the idea, at this point. For many people, use of a 
computer was yet another part of the "mechanics" of doing their job or 
running their business or service. They weren't programmers. Changing 
programs and computers, was simply not necessary, for a stable service. 
And believe it or not, there are still niche businesses, and 
long-running equipment, where "stability" is more important than "new". 
And where "new" doesn't necessarily mean "better".

Many of you reading all this, if you haven't stopped already, have 
decided this is dead-end thinking, old-people who lack flexibility, or 
just incomprehensible. I only bothered to post it, because, well, this 
is a list about vintage computing, right? You are interested in vintage 
computers, right? Do-ya-THINK, some people used these for *purpose* at 
some time? And if so, maybe some people *still* use them for purpose, now?

And, even so, it's worth preserving how and why these computers and 
programs were used. It's already largely forgotten. But that's another 

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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