30 years old Commodore Amiga is the oldest working IoT device
When thinking of IoT climate control and other modern-age inventions, we automatically think of advanced Apple HomeKit consumer devices, Android/Raspberry Pi custom hardware, or Internet-enabled tech that allows us to lock doors and windows, while we are on vacation, remotely from our iPhone and iPad devices.
In the early 1980s, the Grand Rapids School District purchased a Commodore Amiga PC, which was regarded as cutting edge, at the time.
The computer, equipped with a 1200-bps (Yes: Bits Per Second) modem, operates on custom software programmed, back in the early 80s, by a high-school student, who is still living in the area, and who has been providing maintenance for the system for the past 30 years.
The computer has been working relentlessly, to control and monitor heat and air conditioning for 19 schools within the Grand Rapids Public Schools system, and was originally purchased using money from an energy bond.
Throughout its lifetime, the Commodore has gone through two monitors and one mouse, which is impressive for such old system, however, there are concerns that should the system require more sensitive hardware to be replaced, even antique stores might have a problem finding parts.
Another issue lies with how the system communicates, which happens over a radio frequency that is within the same wavelength as the walkie-talkies used by maintenance personnel, and which has caused disruption with operations from time to time.
GRPS Maintenance Supervisor Tim Hopkins responded, “we have to clear the radio and get everyone off of it for up to 15 minutes.” when asked what would happen in such event.
A more modern system to replace the hard-working Commodore, would cost between 1.5 and 2 Million dollars. A 175 Million dollar bond proposal is currently on the ballot to allow the school district to upgrade the system.
Hopkins says that the system wasn’t replaced because it just didn’t rise to the top of the list of the 2011 Warm Safe and Dry bond. In spite of the hurdles of maintaining such an old system, Hopkins seems optimistic and says “This system is still running.”.