Jack comes up with some cool ideas for archiving design tools. Package up the whole system, computer , debug tools, software, and all, and lock it away. Thats not a bad idea at all.
We kept a CPM production machine running for years, even bought another one on ebay as a spare. I even captured a few of them at an auction, and kept them in the garage. Sure, we could have upgraded along the way, but the old gear worked so well, and the operators knew it well, it just didn’t pay to upgrade.
When I look at development, the same can be said about archiving. I still remember the headaches of getting a DOS based cad system up and running to retrieve some legacy files…. It was not fun. Instead of tossing everything out when it became obsolete, archiving working hardware would have saved weeks of screwing around.
Then again, the old paper based system and cool file drawers of years ago never suffered these problems. It was more a matter of cleaning the dust off the antique cabinets, but it sure was a lot less headache than trying to make legacy software run to access key files.
Of course the problem then becomes one of employee turnover…. How many newbies can even run CPM, DOS, or even a WIN31 based cad tool. The old guys may have long since retired. By the same token, an ex-employee may often times hold the missing link to making something function again.
I saw it personally when I got to spend a little time with one of Mercury Marine’s snowmobile engineers. He brought a vibration test fixture back to life. He hadn’t touched it for years, but within half an hour, he was pushing buttons, and twiddling knobs like it was yesterday. It was amazing… You could see the fellow light up like a Christmas tree. Apparenly he had some very fond memories of developing the Snow Twister.