Legacy Computing

After spending a few minutes pricing out a Dell PC there appeared to be a few glaring omissions from the configuration. While the system provides a diverse assortment of USB ports there are no PS/2 connections for my keyboard and the parallel port required for my printer has also inadvertently been removed.

It seems criminal that my trusty IBM Model M keyboard might need to be replaced, and my HP PSC 500 continues to serve my printing and scanning needs quite well. While most of my mice have morphed into Microsoft USB mice with a thumbwheel, this particular workstation actually has a PS/2 mouse. Replacing the keyboard and the mouse will not be a significant expense, but it seems a shame that a new computer will also require a new printer/scanner.

Perhaps this is a slippery tactic being employed by devious Dell marketing folks for the sole purpose of selling more Dell printers. It may also be that my printer is genuinely out-of-date and should be replaced with a modern USB equivalent. I’m not sure what the reasoning is, but fortunately there are still plenty of vendors offering computers addressing all of these legacy computing needs.

Of course, compatibility issues also extend the other way. I just spent $10 on a Zonnet ZFN2600 card. It had been using a USB 1 device to backup 200GB+ of data to an external Maxtor hard drive, but this was proving rather inefficient. This is an example of technology in the other direction, where the legacy hardware has a few modern accessories missing (Firewire, USB 2.0 and network connectivity). Fortunately, the extensible design affords expansion using simple PCI cards and driver updates.

The new thinking of PC design is a valiant attempt to eliminate the vestiges of legacy adapters and protocols. Ironically, my new legacy-free PC will require an immediate upgrade to support a legacy PS/2 keyboard, Firewire and parallel port.