If it ain't broke, why fix it?
My late great-uncle (who owned the print shop with the Tandy 1000EX that I mentioned earlier) was a living example of that mindset: if something did what he wanted and if he knew how it worked, he resisted any pressure to upgrade to the latest shiny new toy and held onto what he had with both hands, whether it was his old 1000EX or the old DOS versions of DacEasy Accounting and WordStar that he used for the longest time to run his business. Some of the people around him who were closer to my age dismissed this attitude as "cranky old man syndrome", but thanks to my exploration of classic computers, I could appreciate how practical it was, and I probably appreciate it even more today. Say what you like about the unfashionable old stuff he had in his shop, but it worked
for year after year without anybody having to do anything with it.
I think that's true of a lot of the old technologies we've been discussing, like the Apple ][: those who are using them today are still reaping the benefits of an investment they made nearly thirty years ago
. That kind of longevity is unheard of with modern Windows computers in particular, which as "everybody knows" have a lifespan of only three to five years. I somehow doubt that any of them will still be running in thirty years: if the hardware doesn't fail first, the software eventually won't be able to "call home" for updates anymore. Or, we'll be forced to use some new file format or some new Web standard that the old software won't support, and the new software will be so bloated and slow that the hardware will have to be replaced, too. People have become acclimated to rapid upgrade cycles, and I've been in the business long enough to have seen several of them: reluctantly switch to the latest new thing, run into a bunch of new headaches, install updates and create workarounds until you mitigate most
of them, and hope the next upgrade fixes the rest of them. Wash, rinse, repeat. I only have enough experience with Macs to say that they're at least somewhat
better in this respect, but I have to believe this principle applies to them to some extent, too. Most Mac owners I've known tend to upgrade pretty readily instead of sticking with models that are older than one cycle behind.
I think the fact that I understood all this was one reason why my great-uncle always trusted me to maintain his computers for him, even though I was working in IT and was very familiar with the current generation of technology. When he finally had to replace his workstation to be able to use the Internet, for example, I got his old DOS apps to run under Windows (some of them with considerable tweaking) so he could continue to use them. I could totally understand why he wanted to keep his old stuff in service, and I was always happy to help him do it.