Defender 70% Computer 6%

Posted on November 26, 2007


I saw a programme last night that featured the Land Rover Defender. In it they argued that 70% of the Defenders ever built are still on the road (and hopefully off the road). Now, I don’t want to get into any arguments about the sustainabilityness of 4x4s, but that is an amazing statistic.

I can’t find, nor verify, that 70% and it isn’t clear whether they are talking about the entire history of the Defender and its predecessors (wiki), or the post 1983 or 1990 rebrandings. But, nevertheless, a number even around 70% is seriously impressive. I wonder what is the equivalent for computing?

Here’s a sample of one: computers I have used (not counting anything I used only briefly or have forgotten).

1984 Casio PB100, still exists in a drawer somewhere

1987 Amiga 500, last used for Mum’s thesis 1991

1988 University geography and botany Vax terminals.

1991 Otago Regional Council Vax. Was still in use in 1997, is now in the roof at work after I used it for teaching operating systems in 1999. (When I had a 10MB satellite image to process we had to seek permission to take the rates database offline, we were allowed 19MB – no, not enough to process the image – for 5 hours).

1990 OU Geography 486. Referred to as the “grunty” the 486 did the processing for a set of networked 386’s. Wasn’t there in 1994.

1993 IBM PC in northern Canada for BOREAS project. Landfill in Thompson after GPS aerial lightning strike.

1994 Otago Regional Council PC. Replaced in about 1998.

1995 Digital HiNote. Wrote spatial modelling software for my PhD on this. Last used as mother-in-law’s first computer in 2001. Taken apart by Oliver and Henry in 2006, pieces are in Henry’s toybox.

1997 Macintosh IIci from about 1990. Wrote my Phd thesis on this. It gave up completely the day after I completed.

1995 Sun station in SIRC GIS lab. Was replaced in late 1997.

1998 Desktop Otago Polytechnic. Was a leased machine, out of service by 2001.

1999 Toshiba laptop. Eventually used for student project, powering a control system.

1999 i-mac. Usefully lasted at home until about 2004. Used a bit for teaching, is one of three of same era stored at work somewhere.

2002 Acer laptop. Died.

2003 Toshiba laptop. Still in student pool (actually just went to look for it, found remnants which seem to have been mined for parts)

2005 Toshiba laptop, in use by SimPa project. Replaced just last week. Not sure of fate now.

2006 Toshiba tablet. Was second hand from senior management (it, annoyingly, doesn’t have a CD drive).

So, 16 computers over 20 years, two still working. Percentage in use: 6.25% That’s not very much. Gas-guzzling extravagance anyone?