A 30 year-old Commodore Amiga still services 19 schools

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A local news station in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently discovered a 30 year-old Commodore Amiga that’s still operational and works around the clock to control the heat and air conditioning systems of 19 public schools.

Purchased with money from an energy bond in the 1980s to replace a computer “about the size of a refrigerator,” this Commodore Amiga remains in good enough condition to work day and night on behalf of the Grand Rapids Public Schools district. 

The system controls the start/stop of boilers, the start/stop of fans, pumps, monitors space temperatures, and so on. It’s a very unique product. It operates on a 1200-bit modem [and] the software that it’s running is unique to Commodore.Tim Hopkins, GRPS Maintenance Supervisor

The program running the heating and air conditioning systems was written by a Kentwood High School student who still makes programming adjustments whenever there is a problem. Although the original components of the Commodore Amiga remain mostly in its original state, parts such as mice and monitors unique to the computer have been replaced. 

This Commodore Amiga may have to keep on chugging

comodore amiga 2The only annoyance Hopkins and the schools have to deal with is the fact the computer operates on the same frequency as the walkie-talkies the maintenance staff uses. “Because they share the same frequency as our maintenance communications radios and operations maintenance radios — it depends on what we’re doing — yes, they do interfere.” Hopkins goes on to explain that when this does happen “we have to clear the radio and get everyone off of it for up to 15 minutes.”

GPRS’ Commodore Amiga is, however, finally beginning to show its age. Unfortunately, upgrading to a more modernized system is projected to cost between $1.5 and 2 million. Until  a $175 million bond proposal is approved in November, this good ‘ole Commodore Amiga has to keep on chugging. “There’s a lot of projects, a lot of needs in the district, so there’s other priorities we have to put in place ahead of this,” Hopkins said. For now, “this system is still running.”

(Featured image courtesy of by zgodzinski)

About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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