VOGONS


First post, by Muz

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Are there careers that is related with vintage computers, other than recycling electronics?

Reply 1 of 12, by RandomStranger

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It's a niche market. What I think is:

  • Making gadgets: something like the Gotek floppy emulator, flash based IDE hard drive replacements, and retro compatible modern sound devices, only something that doesn't exist yet, though as I said, it's a niche market.
  • Tech museum if viable where you live.
  • Youtube, though most big channels barely get past 100k subscribers. I don't know if besides LGR and MVG there is any above 500k. If you want to make a living, you need gaming, not just hardware and even then it's difficult.

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Reply 2 of 12, by Plasma

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Yes, if you are an expert in a very specific area that businesses are willing to pay for. For example, data recovery from old hard drives, floppy disks or backup tapes, CNC machine repair, etc.

My advice though, is to not make your hobby your full-time job. Otherwise it will stop being fun.

Reply 3 of 12, by brostenen

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Designing new hardware for old computer systems. Like designing a new accelerator for Amiga-1200 systems or designing a HDMI internal output system for Atari or Commodore 8-bit systems. But be aware, the competition is extreme and you need to introduce something completely new features in many of the things.

The easiest but the one were you do not make that much money, is perhaps a vintage hardware store. You really need to put an extreme amount of time and energy into hunting down items that you can actually make a good profit on. It is an everlasting and stress inducing task.

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

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Reply 4 of 12, by dionb

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I happen to be in a review session at my work (major telco) where one of our IT project managers is complaining that we are still running critical production services on Pentium I computers and contemporary Sun SparC stuff - and that half the challenge is finding parts but also expertise how to keep this ancient stuff running. Not that you could *only* do this old stuff, but I'm sure that for data center developers, understanding OLD stuff would be a big plus on application.

However the general rule is probably that legacy software skills are far more desired/needed than legacy hardware. There's still tons of 1960s-era COBOL running all over the place, even if the mainframes it once ran on are long gone (although IBM still does brisk business in those too).

Reply 5 of 12, by RetroGamer4Ever

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If you know electronics (or are basically smart enough to pick it up), you can make a career/side-business from servicing/making components for retro tech. Beyond that, there's no real business for vintage hardware work, except in specific usage cases, like old mainframe systems and industrial/utlility systems that need to "keep going" because they are proprietary or essential.

Reply 6 of 12, by Jo22

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Plasma wrote on 2022-01-12, 06:10:

Yes, if you are an expert in a very specific area that businesses are willing to pay for. For example, data recovery from old hard drives, floppy disks or backup tapes, CNC machine repair, etc.

My advice though, is to not make your hobby your full-time job. Otherwise it will stop being fun.

I think the same. As a secondary job.. Maybe.
Selling kits or being an assistant\expert for vintage matters in a YT channel, maybe ?
Something were someone has a bit of control and freedom, still.. Otherwise, it will stop being fun, I'm afraid.

Because, speaking from my own experience, being some sort of "PC expert" can be tiresome.
People which do know about you and your skills will demand your help fixing stuff they broke.
Yes, demand it. Not even asking for help nicely. They act as if you're getting paid for it and as if you had nothing better to do, anyway.
That's why I officially switched to Linux/Mac, also.
I don't hate Windows (still use DOS/3.1/9x/XP in VMs and on older hardware), but for the sake of my mental health I'm officially not a "Windows user" anymore:
Most of the time, you'll find totally underpowered, neglected Windows PCs. Of course, their users didn't do anything wrong. The PCs started to fail all by their own. And if you worked on that thing before,
just ignore the newly installed programs and drivers.
Of course, no other poor soul before you was asked to fiddle with that machine. 😉

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 8 of 12, by RandomStranger

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-01-12, 14:16:
I think the same. As a secondary job.. Maybe. Selling kits or being an assistant\expert for vintage matters in a YT channel, ma […]
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Plasma wrote on 2022-01-12, 06:10:

Yes, if you are an expert in a very specific area that businesses are willing to pay for. For example, data recovery from old hard drives, floppy disks or backup tapes, CNC machine repair, etc.

My advice though, is to not make your hobby your full-time job. Otherwise it will stop being fun.

I think the same. As a secondary job.. Maybe.
Selling kits or being an assistant\expert for vintage matters in a YT channel, maybe ?
Something were someone has a bit of control and freedom, still.. Otherwise, it will stop being fun, I'm afraid.

Because, speaking from my own experience, being some sort of "PC expert" can be tiresome.
People which do know about you and your skills will demand your help fixing stuff they broke.
Yes, demand it. Not even asking for help nicely. They act as if you're getting paid for it and as if you had nothing better to do, anyway.
That's why I officially switched to Linux/Mac, also.
I don't hate Windows (still use DOS/3.1/9x/XP in VMs and on older hardware), but for the sake of my mental health I'm officially not a "Windows user" anymore:
Most of the time, you'll find totally underpowered, neglected Windows PCs. Of course, their users didn't do anything wrong. The PCs started to fail all by their own. And if you worked on that thing before,
just ignore the newly installed programs and drivers.
Of course, no other poor soul before you was asked to fiddle with that machine. 😉

And that's when you "turn it into a job" and start asking money for it. It doesn't even have to be an extortionate amount. A friendly price is enough. Once they have to pay, they won't come to you for help.
Yeah, they'll probably say you are greedy, but that's not that much of a loss. I only work for my immediate family and those who do favors for favors.

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Reply 9 of 12, by chinny22

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Industrial machines are a good bet.
as an example few years ago I work at a industrial printing firm
They had a few printers the size of a cars were attached to XP PC's running LGA775 industrial boards with ISA slots.
The Printer size of a bus was still running OS/2 Warp, not sure on what hardware.

They were supported by the company that had the printer support contract though, not us in general IT as they were computers with 1 task and 1 task only specialized software for controlling the printer.
and that company also had newer printers attached to newer computers, but when your talking about a few thousand pounds just to upgrade the software to a version that supports the PCI interface card your going to get a wide range of systems.

Software wise I've found hospitality industry isn't fond of change, running Win2003 servers past 2016. virtualization actually prolonged this funny enough, let your host worry about hardware and just emulate something basic for the guest OS.

It's not as uncommon as people think once you leave the office environment. Custom software for specialized tasks isn't cheap and often its more financially viable to maintain something well past the general 5? years generic software tends to last.
I'd put money on every hospital in the world is still using at least 1 bit of software from the early 2000's

Reply 11 of 12, by creepingnet

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Oddly I find a lot of my vintage x86/DOS stuff quite transferable to real-world, modern, I.T. roles, as a lot of today's technology was an evolution in a way.

For example, currently I'm learning more network-admin role stuff on the job, a lot of that requires working in various consoles. Having previous DOS knowledge, as well as having used vintage Linux a bit on top of it, and all that time editing plaintext config files for Windows/XFCE/other things has made me quite a fast learner on modern hardware platforms such as Cisco configuration via Telnet, and PowerShell. Everything I've done to batch-script the heck out of my old 8088/286/386/486 PC's to have multiple memory configurations has come in handy when scripting applications to install silently in the background or run maintenance tasks or even Security-related recon tasks in the background silently.

Actually, Telnet is a transferable skill in the network realm since a lot of people use that or SSH to get into various network gear and configure from a command-line. So all that BBS-ing around in Telnet on my old computers has also lead to a transferable skill as well.

A common folly I see in a lot of newcomers is they think all that "old shit" is "useless" because it's not driven by a mouse-driven UI, those are the guys who get stuck in helpdesk hell for all eternity. That said, I can see that being stuck in the past is ALSO bad, which happens a lot with older techs who refuse to learn the user UI or newer methods of carrying out I.T. work. But it's not nearly as much a problem as me having to pick up the slack for some guy who does not even know basic commands like dir, md, deltree, or xcopy -e.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2022-01-18, 22:59. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 12 of 12, by rmay635703

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The local Allen Stober (Jack Allen computers) used to do a lot of DEC and VAX work right through retirement, including working with old terminals.

The stuff exists but knowing the old stuff just helps you migrate and integrate with the new.