Oldest Hardware Supporting Real Work

What is the oldest hardware you have running mission-critical functionality? I have a 2012 i7 quad core Mac mini still functioning as a backup computer, taking backups from a pair of MacBook Airs, as well as backing up all of my archive files and photos generally. I upgraded it with a 512GB SSD and 16GBs of RAM (one of the reasons I originally bought it used about 8 years ago because it was the most powerful Mac mini that allowed HD and RAM upgrades).

It seems to freeze up about every two weeks, but otherwise is churning along. I’m looking to replace it with an M4 Mac mini pro when they come out. I wondered if there is anyone running older hardware or using similar hardware for similar purposes.

I use a 2017 MacBook Air as my daily driver. Runs fine, is lugged around regularly and I’ve not felt a need to upgrade - none of the recent MacOS or hardware updates would make a significant difference to my daily use. I replaced the battery at some point. I can’t remember the last time it was rebooted.

Apple dropping security updates later this year might force me to update, although I’ve switched from Safari to Edge because of the link between the Safari browser updates and the operating system.

(That model was still on sale in 2019, so was a little frustrating for Apple to have dropped MacOS upgrade support after just 4 years).

2014 Mac mini, with 4 GB of RAM and an SSD instead of the original hard drive. Powered on 24/7 for years now and requiring very little maintenance, I think it only ever crashed when the previous SSD started failing on one occasion. Stuck on macOS 12, but it’s mission-critical as it’s my mum’s only computer (in addition to the iPhone), and she doesn’t even want to hear about me getting her something newer. The machine runs fine for browsing, email, shopping, and light document work.

It’s her first Mac, and a couple of years ago, when I set it up for her, I told her that it was a bit different to her previous computer but that she’d have to manage (as she did not want me to buy a new machine for her). I did try to set it up as close to her Windows setup as I possibly could (with the Desktop and the Dock) so as not to confuse her too much.

She returned a few days later saying that this one is much easier to use than the previous one. :smiley:

I could’ve typed this exact answer. I have a DAS attached to mine as well — serving Plex, and backups, that pull through to Backblaze.

Getting a bit long in the tooth — but still chugging along nicely.

2015 iPad Pro that I use everyday at home.

My husband is rocking my old 2011 MacBook Pro and an iPad that is so old I can’t remember when I bought it. He uses both every day.

(At work I have an M2 MacBook Pro and an M2 iPad Pro.)

Not sure these qualify as “mission critical“, but I use an original iPad Air running Touch Portal as my ‘bunch of buttons’ device.

I also have a Cinema Display and a Cinema Display HD connected to my Mac. Both circa 2002 to 2004.

All are used every day.

This is a bit off topic but to your question, ask this question to someone who works for a government agency. There are agencies with mainframe systems that still use green screen dumb terminals. When they hire millennials or younger employees they have to explain how to use the terminal with no mouse support.

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Many of you have me beat here, but here’s what we still have in inventory at the Vidal household:

We have a 2011 MacBook Air that we still use for some of our kids’ computing tasks. (Very limited usage, but I think it still technically meets the requirements of this post :slight_smile: ) My old 2015 MacBook Pro is also in occasional rotation. I think we have a pretty old iPad with a cracked screen that one of the kids uses. Maybe it’s a 2017, but I need to confirm that. One of the kids uses an iPhone X (2017?) like a small iPad.


“According to the International Journal of Advanced Research in Science, Communication and Technology (IJARSCT), 43 percent of all banking systems are still using COBOL, which handles those $3 trillion daily transactions, including 95 percent of all ATM activity in the US, and 80 percent of all in-person credit card transactions”


I have a client in the medical device space whose entire manufacturing process is managed by a COBOL application. I think the only company that deals in COBOL licensing today is MicroFocus.

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At work, we’re merging with a company using an ERP running on an IBM mainframe. It’s wild to see people working in a green screen terminal on a modern PC. They’re moving to the software we use which has a GUI from the 90s so they’re moving up in time slowly! I’m in IT and we’re always teasing their IT lead when he pulls the system up if he’s going to play thermonuclear war.

At my last day job we ran our manufacturing process on a bespoke COBOL application. As far as I know, they’re still using it today.


Two employers ago I used to work a lot on TRIPOS. The only commercial entity in the world still using it at the time.

It’s basically a lot like UNIX, and was an old green screen system (though the actual screens had long been replaced with a software green screen app that ran on windows.

The hardware relied on Motorola 68000 chips just like old Macs did, and 3.5” floppy disks were the only way to install or update software. The 68000 chip line was fully discontinued during my employment there and we built a Linux emulator in house to run the operating system and database on (I forget the name of the database system but it was a suitably old IBM standard without memory protection so memory scribbles were far too easy and could overwrite system essential memory and kill the OS). Switching to linux despite the overhead of the emulation layer increased performance of database queries by approximately 3000%.

We also ended up writing CD/DVD drive drivers and even broadband drivers for this operating system, and continued to use it because there wasn’t a single example of malware for it in existence.

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My previous employer, which I left five years ago, was processing the majority of their clients on DOS.

When I was hired it was as part of the team developing the next generation system on Windows. We would say we were bringing them kicking and screaming into the nineties!