An '80s-era Amiga controls the heating for an entire school district

An Amiga 2000 next to its siblings

Think the Windows XP workstation you use at the office is ancient? It doesn't hold a candle next to what the Grand Rapids Public School district is using to control its climate systems. All 19 schools covered by the authority depend on a nearly 30-year-old Commodore Amiga 2000 to automate their air conditioning and heating. It communicates to the other schools using a pokey 1,200 baud modem and a wireless radio so behind the times that it occasionally interferes with maintenance workers' walkie talkies. Oh, and a high school student wrote the necessary code -- if something goes wrong, the district has to contact the now middle-aged programmer and hope that he can fix it. It's a testament to the dependability of the Amiga in question, but you probably wouldn't want to trust the well-being of thousands of students to a computer that's probably older than some of the teachers.

There's a good reason why the school district has been hanging on to this vintage solution for so long. Replacing it with a modern system could cost up to $2 million dollars, which isn't exactly chump change when an HVAC controller upgrade is usually low on the priority list. There may be relief in sight, however. If the electorate passes a $175 million bond proposal, the district will have the cash it needs to replace its Amiga with a computing platform that was built sometime this century.

[Image credit: Marcin Wichary, Flickr]