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What Is the Oldest Code Written Still Running?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the when-dinosaurs-ruled-the-datacenter dept.

Programming 903

Consul writes "What is the oldest piece of code that is still in use today, that has not actually been retyped or reimplemented in some way? By 'piece of code,' I'm of course referring to a complete algorithm, and not just a single line." The question would have a different answer if emulation, in multiple layers, is allowed.

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A rare topic (4, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370768)

Interesting, a quick search on Google reveals that there isn't much on this topic other than people talking about the oldest computer they have. One post talks about some old IBM Series 1's and S/360/30. One good one is to say the computers onboard some of the oldest spacecrafts like Pioneer 10 (1972), Voyager I and II (1977). Although they haven't received anything from Pioneer 10 since 2002. But you could say that the computer in it might still be running.

Somehow I doubt that many of the people that would be running such old computers such as ones from before 1970 would be reading Slashdot. And if you think about it, people conceptulized computers differently back then. I think you'd be hard pressed to find mention of a specific program but more of mention of a computer itself. Its too bad there is such a big disconnect between the generations of computer programmers and administrators.

Easy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370824)

Universe!

- God

Re:A rare topic (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370918)

The code in the Voyager spacecraft, at least, was extensively updated after launch and throughout the mission.

Re:A rare topic (3, Insightful)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370926)

Somehow I doubt that many of the people that would be running such old computers such as ones from before 1970 would be reading Slashdot.
Dunno about that. My mom's employer (UPS) still runs old mainframes (and employs COBOL coders) because switching would be too expensive/time prohibitive/etc.
Sometimes companies just have ancient systems somewhere in their infrastructure cause they can't gut them.

Re:A rare topic (1)

Keitopsis (766128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370930)

I had a similar thought, but closer to the base algorithms that make modern computing possible.

Things like binary addition, which would be hardwired now inside the CPU. I look back at the function of the first practical computers. ENIAC, UNIVAC, and other 1950's "big iron".

Just to think, one of the first uses is a statistical method to predict elections.

On the other hand, there are those software packages that have evolved over time. This includes the BIOS bootstrap, BIND, and other low level functions of the O/S and Network.

It just depends on how you think about it, and you get a different answer. Of course, there is always the Hello World program.

Pioneer and Voyager Comps Receive Uplink Updates (3, Informative)

meehawl (73285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370948)

"Firmware" updates [nasa.gov] have been occasionally uploaded to the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft when necessary.

Re:Pioneer and Voyager Comps Receive Uplink Update (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371130)

True, but what's really the definition of "still running" for purposes of it being the same code? If you patch one byte, is it the same code? Sort of a Ship of Theseus problem, no?

Re:A rare topic (5, Informative)

jacobsm (661831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370988)

One of the original IBM System S360 programs, IEFBR14 is still in wide use today. IEFBR14 CSECT SR 15,15 BR 14 END Only two changes in over 40 years. It doesn't do much, in fact nothing except set a zero return code, but it is widely used for dataset allocation purposes in batch dataset allocation processing.

Re:A rare topic (5, Insightful)

WGR (32993) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371054)

Somehow I doubt that many of the people that would be running such old computers such as ones from before 1970 would be reading Slashdot. And if you think about it, people conceptualized computers differently back then. I think you'd be hard pressed to find mention of a specific program but more of mention of a computer itself. Its too bad there is such a big disconnect between the generations of computer programmers and administrators.
As someone who has been programming computers since 1966, I beg to differ with you. Code is more persistent than computers, since one can still run code written for an Intel 8080 on a modern dual core Pentium. The one main difference between programming them and programming now is that the cost of computers then meant that machine efficiency then was more important than human efficiency. Unfortunately too many programmers still think that way and are not willing to put in the code for security checks, clean user interfaces, etc. that are required. In many ways, computer science had a huge regression after the development of microcomputers. Instead of extending the lessons of mainframe computers like the Multics project about security, we returned to the "efficiency" goal because of the lack of power of early micros and still use that mindset when we have IPods that are more powerful than the largest mainframe of 1970.

The OS powering John McCain's artificial heart... (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370770)

...which was implanted in his chest shortly before his escape from the Viet Cong. 1,700 lines of COBOL, and still going strong!

Sadly, it has a Y2K bug. This explains why the John McCain of 2008 is not the same as the one from eight years ago.

Unfortunately For U.S. Democracy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370806)



North Vietnam did not ship McCain to the Soviet Gulag for
PERMANENT residence.

The oldest code in existence: (5, Funny)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370774)

Genetic code.

MOD PARENT DOWN! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370814)

100% Karma Troll. He was asking for computer code, not other abstract types of code.

Really? (0, Offtopic)

Bragador (1036480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370838)

And who are you to say that humans are not carbon-based computers?

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN! (2, Informative)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371128)

What's the matter? 'Funny' doesn't yield any karma, anyways.

Re:The oldest code in existence: (1)

dragonquest (1003473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370840)

Well, actually I think the Genetic code does change during the evolution of a species, no?

Re:The oldest code in existence: (2, Interesting)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370910)

Well, humans have basically been running the same program for some million years... with some minor software upgrades of course.

Re:The oldest code in existence: (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370974)

Modern man probably arose ~200,000 years ago, not several million.

The relatively rapid success of modern man in populating the planet is good reason to believe that there was more than a software change 200,000 years ago (and it took about 190,000 years after that change before agriculture became a force and culture exploded).

Re:The oldest code in existence: (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370990)

Hm, so I think it's at the same time the oldest and finest example of self-modifying code.

Re:The oldest code in existence: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371072)

It changes, but slightly. Look at how a high percentage a human chare with a chimpanzee (98 or so %)

IANAB(iologist), but I suppose the codingfor the base aminoacids has not been changed for some half a billion years or more: these could be thought of as small subroutines.

Re:The oldest code in existence: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370858)

Genetic code.
While almost true, the genetic code has consistently been changing and is still changing today...so hence it is consistently being retyped over and over

Re:The oldest code in existence: (4, Insightful)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370956)

Still.. we have hundred year old humans right? And some thousand year old trees. Trees are run by a somewhat simple generative algorithm, but still... as far as age goes, they still take the cake.

creators' planet/population rescue kode.... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370778)

it's been around forever. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

just follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn. anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in.

for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it?

we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster.

meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);
http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'.

the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way.

the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US;

gov. bush denies health care for the little ones

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Re:creators' planet/population rescue kode.... (2)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370828)

What the HELL are you going on about?

Re:creators' planet/population rescue kode.... (2, Funny)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370900)

What the HELL are you going on about?
Ssh. He's not properly medicated. :)

Re:creators' planet/population rescue kode.... (3, Interesting)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370978)

I find it amusing that most conspiracy theorists - whether the conspiracies are true or not is immaterial - tend to write long rambling screeds like that that cause people to lose interest after the first sentence, and then use that as proof that the world is against them.

It's all about the packaging.

I'm not sure (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370784)

but I've got money that says the government owns it.

Re:I'm not sure (4, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370842)

I'd go for the Babbage Difference Engine in the London Science Museum.

Re:I'm not sure (2, Funny)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370928)

Well, I may mistaken but I think the LSM is owned by the British government ;)

Re:I'm not sure (1)

Keitopsis (766128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370966)

I know its on display at the LSM, but it was built and owned privately. It's just being displayed at the LSM.

Re:I'm not sure (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370976)

good point

Re:I'm not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371088)

I'm pretty sure it's not still running.

Digital? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370790)

That depends on whether or not you are restricting it to digital code or not. I'm guessing RNA is pretty ancient.

Fortran code, from 1954 (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370792)

Fortran code, from 1954. I'm not sure if there is anything still around but it wouldn't surprise me.

Re:Fortran code, from 1954 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370832)

Yeah, I can definately believe there's a little ancient fortran floating around in an airtraffic control system somewhere.

Alan Turing's First Program (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371016)

Once they rebuilt the Manchester Mk. 1 ten years ago, Alan Turing's program became the oldest program runnable without emulation. It clocks in at 60 years old, being written in 1948. The code finds the highest common factor between any two integers expressable in 32 bits. Not bad, given that the Mk. 1 had only one arithmetic operator, subtract.

Probably... (1)

dragonquest (1003473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370794)

...Notepad?

I kid, I kid ;)

Re:Probably... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370902)

edlin Vista x64

Dan Brown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370796)

Da-da Vinci code?

My very first applet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370808)

Which I wrote back in the days when Java was just released ;-)

oldest code in existence (2, Funny)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370818)

10 testing
20 goto 10

Re:oldest code in existence (4, Funny)

kclittle (625128) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370856)

And, not only is it still in existence, it is still running!
-k

Re:oldest code in existence (-1, Redundant)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370876)

Mod parent up! It's funny!

Get it? Still running?

Re:oldest code in existence (1)

rs79 (71822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371064)

No, but close.

jmp .
you'd toggle this into pdp-11 memory then see if it executed correctly.

5 years later you'd be burning this into an eprom to see if a microprocessor was doing the right things when it ran. this would be about 1980.

i worked on a program on an ibm 1130 once called "pnews" in 1971, but it's no relation to Henry Spencers work other than being done in the same area code.

hello (2, Funny)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370826)

world

Re:hello (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371076)

Actually hello world was "invented" in 1974.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello_world#History

Look at some of the big companies out there, too. (1)

rdunnell (313839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370834)

A lot of the big banks, insurance companies, payments processors, etc have had mainframes for a long time and a lot of that code really doesn't need too much modernization. The early programmers were a lot more rigorous than the new crowd and some of the candidates for "oldest code still used" could possibly be some mundane thing that compounds interest or something like that. They've surely upgraded to newer hardware but a lot of the old code doesn't necessarily need updating to run on that hardware.

Please don't use anecdotal evidence. (0, Troll)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370864)

You are not presenting any real evidence that it is the case. You are just saying this because it sounds likely to be true, but do you have any hard evidence to back it up?

Unfortunately, it looks like people aren't going to take this question seriously.

Re:Please don't use anecdotal evidence. (1)

Ciarang (967337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370968)

This isn't a court of law is it? That sounded like a perfectly reasonable suggestion to me. I sometimes have cause to interface with some very old systems in banks and other financial institutions. That's just another anecdote though.

Re:Please don't use anecdotal evidence. (2, Informative)

sphealey (2855) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371004)

As late as 1998 one of my former employers was running applications written in 1401 assembler in the late 50s/early 60s which in turn had been translated from IBM accounting machine commands. I can't say if they are still running since I am no longer there but given the size and resulting inertia of that entity I would not bet against at least one of those apps still being in service.

sPh

Re:Look at some of the big companies out there, to (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370884)

I work in a big bank in France and i know we had, a few years ago, some code from 70's in Cobol for some core products.

Re:Look at some of the big companies out there, to (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371066)

The same people who were rigorously responsible for y2k problems? I'm calling bullshit on that one.

Must be on IRS computers (1)

stm2 (141831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370836)

I read once about some very old systems still running at IRS computers. It is so old that it would take an astronomical budget to port it.

Re:Must be on IRS computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370942)

I read once about some very old systems still running at IRS computers. It is so old that it would take an astronomical budget to port it.

Also, no one understands it any more.

Re:Must be on IRS computers (1)

wik (10258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371050)

Astronomical, eh? Have you checked NASA's shrinking budget? :)

I'm sorry, I'm so sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370846)


10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"
20 GOTO 10

Hey, at least it's more than "one line of code" :P.

Depends on what you mean by code and running... (3, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370848)

There's still code running for nuclear power plants that was written in the 60's or earlier; given the challenge of certifying emulators we ran it on the original machines; embedded code in machinery was probably been older. Although, most really old stuff was mechanical not based on ICs.

Some military hardware may be even older; reliability and certainty is often more important than the latest and greatest.

Re:Depends on what you mean by code and running... (1)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370912)

FYI: The oldest nuclear plant still in operation began operation in 1969 (Oyster Creek, NJ).

Re:Depends on what you mean by code and running... (5, Informative)

WGR (32993) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371094)

FYI: The oldest nuclear plant still in operation began operation in 1969 (Oyster Creek, NJ).
There are reactors at Chalk River in Ontario that have been operating continuously since the early 1950's. Most of the world's medical isotopes come from them.

Satellite code (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370850)

Check the various satellites. Voyager 1 is about 31 years old and significant portions of its programming remain unchanged. It is expected to keep running until about 2020. There are older operational satellites, but I'm not sure which ones were hardwired vs programmable controllers.

10 Dixitque Deus "Fiat lux" (4, Funny)

LetsGoVandy (814297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370860)

20 Dixit quoque Deus "Fiat firmamentum in medio aquarum"

Re:10 Dixitque Deus "Fiat lux" (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370964)

forsitan, sed antequam amicus noster beatus Ieronimus illae ad idiomatum latinum transtulit, haec verba haebrice dicta sunt, vel sic credentes pie asserunt.

Of course it's... (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370868)

Cobol!

Ask SCO (1)

ufoot (600287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370880)

A lawyer friend of mine has good reasons to believe SCO has the response to this question. Unfortunately he can't show off the meat, but it is certainly older than any other piece of code.

Perhaps code is living less than before.... (1)

basiles (626992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370890)

I tend to believe that the code which is written today will last much less longer than code which was written 30 years ago. And this is somehow strange, since 30 years ago the computer costed much more than the human programmer (while the opposite is true today). On the other hand, some embedded code surely will last for long (as the space examples above).

Re:Perhaps code is living less than before.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371010)

The relative cheapness of computers today means that you can develop very purpose specific software and then switch over to it. When computers were expensive, you didn't have a computer to develop purpose specific software with, so you only used software where it really made sense.

Simple explanation (1)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371070)

Actually there is a simple explanation for this. Computers have become comoditized more and more. But the first computers and programs where created for the most important things in the world that needed them. And because they run such important things (Nuclear Power plants, Air Traffic Control Code, Banks, institutions, etc.), the managers and agencies that are in charge of them keep an attitude of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Or at least nobody wants to tackle that problem.

When that code was created, you probably had to be at the top of your game in order to create such software. But nowadays, any Tom, Dick or Jane can be a programmer, but those aren't necessarily the people that you'd want to have rewriting cuclear power plant control software. And having been a programmer professionally and a system administrator for a while, I think that the people who are capable, don't want to bother with it because there isn't much glory for it.

But what will happen when it all fails and nobody knows how to fix it or the fix is incorrect? (See, STTNG: When the Bough Breaks).

It is obvious (1)

rwwyatt (963545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370904)

Joan Rivers

Where's the article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370906)

If this is an AskSlashdot then label it as such.

Embedded microcode (4, Insightful)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370908)

Knowing full well that I haven't got a clue, my guess would still be microcode embedded in some special purpose device - i.e. not a general purpose computer.

I don't remember when digital watches started appearing, but I suppose there's a bit of code in there? Various industrial machines from waaay back that are still in use ought to be good candidates as well.

Kudos to Consul for a remarkably interesting Ask Slashdot. The best one I've seen in a long while :)

Re:Embedded microcode (1)

LinuxInDallas (73952) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371028)

Good point. Given that I would put my bet on one of the early calculators released in the early 1970s.

Re:Embedded microcode (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371084)

Those were hardwired logic.

Jacquard loom (3, Interesting)

solweil (1168955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370922)

I wonder if there are any Jacquard looms still running.

BSD had a 25-year code still running... (5, Funny)

Keyper7 (1160079) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370952)

...but some insensitive clod recently deleted it.

The FBI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370954)

Supposedly still uses CP/M machines with 8" floppies.

To hell with the question... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370958)

What's the oldest piece of code you can get running? Either on emulation or on original hardware. Be creative, winner gets... well, kudos. But that's gotta count for something on Slashdot right? :^P

Difficult to say... (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370980)

...because even if the code hasn't been replaced, you can bet the source control software has. My guess would be old cores of for example banking systems, I know there our company has COBOL code written in the 60s and the system is still in COBOL and in use today. If someone wrote a correct, useful algorithm back then it could very easily still exist today. I can at least assure you that they don't exactly do rewrites very often...

re (1)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23370984)

some i can think o are the software running on the computers in Voyager 1,2 also Pioneer 10, 11 all are still up and running

Windows 16 bit? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370994)

The 16 bit windows code that is still at the heart of .Net???

IEFBR14 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23370998)

That's a program from the very late 60s or early 70s on IBM mainframes; it's still used in JCL for strange reasons.

It's in assembler, but the C equivalent would be something like exit(0).

John Roth

Probably in some elevator somewhere (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371000)

My guess is that the oldest code is in some embedded processor somewhere, as those tend to last forever and not be changed, such as the computers controlling elevators and microwaves and the like.

I would also guess that this was not what the author had in mind.

25 Years! (1)

LEMONedIScream (1111839) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371012)

I'd say about 25 years [slashdot.org] !

Oldest possible... (5, Funny)

the_duke_of_hazzard (603473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371024)

1 "Let there be light"
2 create universe()
3 while (1)
4 # I'll finish this up later

geometry formulas? (1)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371026)

Does Pythagoras's formula count? Or Euclid's approximation for the square root of 2? I mean, they basically use the same formulas, regardless of programming language.

For which value of 'code'? (4, Informative)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371030)

The Science Museum has card decks for Jacquard looms that are more than a century old. Bletchley Park has a replica Colossus machine, which needs programming in the shape of switch positions. IDK if the code they use was preserved, or reverse engineered along with the rest of the machine, though.

old CNC (2, Informative)

rcallan (1256716) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371032)

I think the question could stand to be a little more specific in terms of the definitions of "code" and "running," but I'm sure somewhere someone is using punch cards to machine things ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Numerical_Control [wikipedia.org] ). I've seen a lot of ancient machines like this, mostly because they are designed for very long lifetimes, but also because generally they are given the tlc of the machinists that use them.

IEFBR14 (2, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371036)

IEFBR14, the good old chunk of do-nothing code, the most universal executable used by anyone who ever wrote JCL.

It really does that - nothing. IEF is the code prefix, since all code *must* be prefixed, after all. BR14 stands for "Branch to Register 14", which with the old code linkages conventions means "return and exit". In JCL it's commonly used simply to attach, allocate, and deallocate files. In other words, used for its side-effects with the file allocation parameters. I haven't written any JCL in probably 20+ years, or I'd give an example. Anything I'd show now would likely be too badly riddled with errors to give the true, scrumptious feel.

Re:IEFBR14 (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371102)

*cough* Are you serous? Is JCL really that bad? Or is this a whooooosh joke?

M$ paint (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371038)

or notepad

I'd guess FORTRAN or COBOL runtime. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371048)

Compilers themselves would have changed over time, but the many of the runtime function implementations, I guess, would have remained the same.

FANG,f rom 1972. Still downloadable. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371056)

FANG [fourmilab.ch] , from 1972, is probably one of the oldest applications you can still download and run [crewstone.com] . It's a copying utility for UNIVAC mainframes. UNIVAC Exec 8 was way ahead of its time, with full support for threads, multiprocessors, and concurrent I/O from the late 1960s. FANG was one of the first applications to use that concurrency effectively. You could put in a series of commands to operate on multiple files, and it would do them as concurrently as possible, keeping track of any dependencies in the file copies.

logarithms (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371058)

> What is the oldest piece of code that is still in use today


Not quite a cheat, but I'd say that the original instructions used to calculate log tables might be close.

It's code (well, instructions - same thing?)

While it has been retyped many time, I'm sure the original paper-based instructions are still in a library somwwhere, and would work on a suitably old calcuator (hand-cranked, of course)

It's definitely a complete algorithm

Ada Bryon's Code (5, Interesting)

ForexCoder (1208982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371074)

Ada Bryon's Notes on the analytical engine [wikipedia.org] contains the oldest running code today. It can be run here [computerhistory.org] .

Of course Charles Babbage [wikipedia.org] holds the claim for longest vaporware project at 153 years. And also apparently the longest unfixed bug.

Oldest I know of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23371086)

int main()
{
    cout "Hello World!";
    return 0;
}

Hard to say (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371096)

Some people were still dinking around with IBM 1401 (late 1950s) code as recently as 2000. http://www.multicians.org/thvv/1401s.html [multicians.org] , but not for any productive purpose. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find Fortran/Cobol programs originally written for the IBM709 or CDC1604 still in use. Not on the original hardware of course -- too expensive to run Maybe the right question is what is the oldest computer still in use somewhere in the world? Odds are pretty good that some of the code from its early years is still around.

what level of code qualifies? (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371112)

what about microcode? or the "code" that's hardwired in processors since they began?
such as "AND" circuits (logic "code") and "OR", "NAND", "ADD", "MULT", "SUB" (both with and without carry bits).

How about the "code" that fetches instructions and data?

BABBAGE, hands down. (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371114)

Babbage's difference, engine. Granted, it never ran when Babbage was alive, but he designed it in 1822 or something and Nathan Myhrvold (sp?) had one built recently.

Yikes! Apparently, it's my product! (1)

ml10422 (448562) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371126)

Yikes! I clicked on this page, and a banner ad for the product I work on every day! Hmm, I knew we had some legacy code in our code base, but this must be the Universe letting me know it's time to look for a new job.

Embedded Systems (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23371134)

There are a lot of embedded systems used for industrial controls that never get updated or replaced, things like building controls and elevators.

There are a whole bunch of 4-bit and 8-bit microcontrollers that have been designed into amateur and commercial radio equipment. Much of that equipment gets used for 30+ years.

IBM probably still has bits of code from the IBM 360 that are still running on modern mainframes.

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