A PC of history Featured

9:49am EDT July 22, 2002

So old was the company’s computer, a Tandon XT purchased in 1986, that H. David Cyrus, who owns the company with his son, John, entered it in Dell Computer Corp.’s “Search for the oldest PC” contest this summer.

“After about 29 pages, you have to give [your document] a new file name,” Cyrus says of working on the Tandon.

Still, that wasn’t enough to win Dell’s contest. Patent lawyer John C. Shepard of Winnetka, Ill., had Cyrus beat by a decade. Dell donated Shepard’s MITS Altair 8800b he bought in 1976 to The Computer Museum of America in La Mesa, Calif., and gave him a $15,000 computer package.

Cyrus, meanwhile, is ready for an upgrade of his own.

He is using the Tandon at home to write the speeches he gives as a retired pastor. Cyrus feels so comfortable with the old computer that he still uses it to do quick estimates for the siding, window, gutter and other home repair jobs of his company.

“Yes, you can do programs on it and run applications; it’s just that it’s such a slow dog it would just bog it down,” Cyrus’ daughter and office manager, Betsy Shaffer, says of the 13-year-old Tandon. “After a while, no one wanted to use it but him.”

Shaffer now works on a 486 computer, which was added to C & L Improvement Co. about four years ago.

Soon, the 486 will meet the retirement fate of its predecessor, Shaffer says. Plans are in the works to purchase a new Pentium for the business.