This website is powered by a 39-year-old IBM PCjr DOS Web Server with a 4.77 MHz CPU is a site dedicated to retro computing and has been live for over 2,500 hours running on an IBM PCjr home computer from 1984.

1 minute & 24 seconds read time

It's not every day that you stumble on a website powered by hardware that pre-dates the dial-up modem era of the internet, but that's exactly what's happening over at Brutmans Lab. It's a site dedicated to early 1980s computing and projects, so it's fitting that it's running on a 39-year-old IBM PCjr - a low-cost PC from 1984 designed to compete with the likes of the Apple II and Commodore 64.

An IBM PCjr ad from the 1980s, with its "Add options that haven't been invented yet" tag ringing truer than ever in 2023.

An IBM PCjr ad from the 1980s, with its "Add options that haven't been invented yet" tag ringing truer than ever in 2023.

Hardware-wise, this custom PCjr features an NEC V20 CPU running at 4.77MHz and a paltry 736KB of RAM. Storage-wise, it's more 2023 than 184, with a jrIDE sidecar (IDE adapter and memory) and a 240GB SATA SSD on a SATA/IDE bridge. This is then paired with IBM PC DOS 5.02 (IBM's version of MS-DOS) and the mTCP HTTPServ web server for DOS. The result is, a fully functional site that is admittedly a little slow to load up from Australia.

But, as per the main page, the server has been up for over 2,500 hours without any restarts or reboots - an impressive feat. Per the status page, it went live on Friday, March 31, 2023.

The PCjr was never designed to be used this way, so it's a fascinating experiment that lives up to the site's "retrocomputing performance art" subtitle. For a bit of context, the PCjr shipped with a rudimentary display capable of displaying a 160x200 image with 16 colors, 320x200 with 16 colors, or 640x200 with 4 colors. PC gaming was the system where Sierra's first King's Quest debuted; though the PCjr wasn't a success, the game and series found its audience elsewhere.

I plan to keep tabs on Brutman Labs just to see how long the server stays online without rebooting - so far, it's looking pretty stable. With this story popping up on forums and other outlets, it hasn't gone down yet, so here's hoping it stays that way.

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Kosta might be a relatively new member of TweakTown, but he’s a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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