Last month, the open records experts at MuckRock began looking for the most ancient computer still in use by the federal government.
The quest is perhaps the federal IT equivalent of locating the One Ring, except its holders, including developer Allan Lasser, don’t want to heave the old machines into Mount Doom when they find them. Rather, their intentions are to publicize the how and why behind the government’s most archaic systems, and potential security problems that arise from operating obsolete systems.
“Knowing which agencies are running hardware older than I am is important,” Lasser wrote.
In an update posted yesterday, it appears MuckRock will have no shortage of candidates.
A 30-year-old computer in Grand Rapids that controls a school’s temperature, a 40-year-old machine in Hawaii handling payroll and the computers at NASA built for the Voyager space mission are all in contention.
I plan to participate in this quest and, given that it’s tax season, respectfully submit the Internal Revenue Service as a hotbed for hilariously, hellaciously old systems. Some 3,000 of its computers are still running Windows 2003, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.