Back in the old days of 2001, for all I know I'm the first to be doing this stuff, I got attacked for it even if I mentioned it in passing. "What are you going to do with that old Boat Anchor? Play Pong? Doorstop for your home "Office"? C'mon, you have a Jurrasic Park full of old "dinosaurs"? GET A REAL PC!"
These days I literally don't get any bad looks at all, actually, at work as of late, I've been having almost daily conversations about old hardware and software....486s and the like. Like it's a regular thing today, for the most part. I still get the occasional "why not use DOSbox" or "get a Raspberry Pi" answer. I'll get into that more in a minute.
Back in the day, my reasoning was that that I could not afford a new PC. I literally could not. My whole "quest" was just to get ANY semblance of computing power capable of internet access without financial help from my parents. This meant digging around thrift shops, pawn shops, curbsides, dumpsters, closets, anywhere people had some old 486 socket x whatever laying around, and then take the best parts, and frankenstein it together with a handful of newer parts to make it more capable than it was when it was new. It meant hustling for odd jobs, which then the computer, gave me skills for access to better income. I owe a LOT to this "old crap" for my I.T. career.
Today, my reasoning is that it's way more fiddly for me to mess with "DOSbox" or a "RetroPie". On vintage hardware, I spend maybe, 5-10-15 minutes setting it up, or I can just run the file-copy while I'm at work or over night and then run the setup and I'm done in like, 2 actual minutes of interaction with the computer. In the case of DOSbox or RetroPie though, I end up spending a large sum of my time opening plaintext files to tune and tweak. The worst is RetroPie, I don't think that darned thing EVER runs right. Every update, I end up ripping through text configuration files aplenty, lots of installing and uninstalling various emulators to find the best one that does not run like crap, sometimes having to resort to having 2-3 installed because some software runs with one but not the other.....this is ESPECIALLY relevant when it comes to classic x86 PC software. I spend more time tuning and tweaking and updating and fixing the darned thing than I do actually playng games on it. No 8088-80486 based PC I have ever owned has even been a 100th this amount of trouble to get setup and going. Don't even get me started on input latency on the pie.....there's a reason I own CRT TV's and CRT Monitors for my old consoles and computers.
And a secret bit I'm tempted to mess with is the idea of FreeDOS as a daily driver O/S for certain things. It's so darned close for everything I Do that if there was a DPMI enabled DAW for DOS, and someone updated and fixed some video goofiness with FLMail and it's ability to utilize modern security protocols like Links does, I honestly could live comfortably with a 486 running FreeDOS as my main machine in 2021.