Internet a haven for 'vintage' computers
It seems oxymoronic at first: How could the World Wide Web, with all its multimedia bells and whistles, all it's high-end gloss that requires ever-increasing computing power, be a godsend for owners and users of older systems?
If seemingly ironic, though, it is also true: The Internet and the Web in particular are making it possible for older computers to stay in service longer than ever before.
Actually, it makes perfect sense. What the Internet does better than anything is let people communicate. And unless you're a wunderkid programmer/electrician, you need a social support system to help you with your personal computer. Whether it's buying a monthly magazine, bumming advice from the systems folks at work, or picking the brain of the cashier where you bought your system, we all depend on others to help us when we're stuck.
With most computer stores having dropped support for everything but the latest Windows and Mac applications, where can someone still using an Apple II, a Tandy Coco or a Commodore Amiga go to find new programs, memory upgrades or a replacement mouse? Who can they ask questions of when a program won't run right anymore, or if they don't know how to use a particular feature of their system?
All of these and more can be found on the Internet.
There are three basic areas on the Internet for finding information and/or support on so-called "obsolete" computer systems:
Now, it's all well and good to know that this information exists on the 'Net, but how to find it?
The best place to locate Web pages and FTP sites is via search engines. Yahoo's computing pages are among the most complete. The hardware section has good links to most systems, from Atari to Amiga, NeXT to Sinclair. The operating systems page is another good resource for finding info on your computer. The best part about Yahoo is that it includes links to Usenet newsgroups as well as FTP and Web sits.
However, the Yahoo links to the Usenet presume you have a news account. Check with your ISP to see if you have access to the Usenet. If not, you can go to www.dejanews.com and access it via the Web. And at Deja.com, you can search the entire Usenet by topic, helping you find every newsgroup associated with a particular platform.
Other good search resources for finding online support of legacy systems are metasites like Savvy Search and NorthernLight.com which will search through numerous search engines for you, and then sort the results.
No matter which method you use for tracking down information on your legacy system, though, you can be sure that with the resources you'll find you can keep using that computer for the rest of your natural life.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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