My Oldest Piece Of Computing Gear Dies

There was no neat way to use this kludge. No matter which side faced forward there were wires protruding.

7004br.jpgUntil this afternoon an SMC 7004BR router sat on a small shelf above my desk. A strangely designed piece of equipment, it had cables plugged in front and back. Along with 5-Ethernet sockets there was one parallel and one serial port.

There was no neat way to use this kludge. No matter which side faced forward there were wires protruding.

The 7004BR’s claim to fame was its role as a router with built-in serial printer port. It was used solely for printing the past few years, its router functionality was taken over by a sleeker wireless model. I turned off the DHCP functionality and assigned it a static IP address.

Kevin Webster and I got these around the same time. Mine went into service allowing the family to share a single dial-up modem plugged into the serial port! One node went, via an Ethernet cable that still spans the attic, to Stef’s playroom, the other my office.

Recently the 7004BR has shown signs of its age. Printing was sporadic. I couldn’t connect to its web-like configuration interface. Finally today it stopped working entirely. I did a hard reset which should have brought it back to its factory configuration. Nothing.

I asked Helaine to stop by Staples to pick up a replacement–a single purpose Ethernet to USB print server. She called sheepishly from the store.

“What does it look like?” she asked.

I told her she’d better ask for help. As it turned out, she was nowhere near where this esoteric piece of gear was hidden.

“I would have never found it,” she said as the clerk handed it over.

I was glad I hadn’t described it, because the box was about ten times the size of the server itself!

Much of what the 7004BR did is no longer done. Computers no longer have serial or parallel ports–nor do printers. USB handles it all.

It’s a piece of gear I used but never thought about. It passed through my gaze, but I stopped seeing it long ago. It was forgotten before it was gone. It is a throwback to the very beginning of the networked home.

It was by far the oldest piece of gear in use here. It goes out with the trash.

2 thoughts on “My Oldest Piece Of Computing Gear Dies”

  1. I have an old SMC print sever that still works, but that I can’t use, because the darn thing doesn’t support WPA. And there’s no way in hell, I’m running WEP anymore!!

    It’s ok. The printer that I was using it with needs a cleaning before it can really be useful anymore anyway. And at that, I could always buy a JetDirect card for it to hook it back up to the network.

    The oldest piece of computer equipment I own is an old 10Mbps hub (not switch!) that still works in a pinch.


  2. This is strange, my SMC barricade died last weekend. I purchased it about the same time you did, based on the same person’s good experience with his. Kevin and I used to work together. The device sat on shelf, running 7/24 for 7+ years working like a charm. Mine died a quick and hopefully painless death. Working fine Friday am, dead as doornail Friday night. Power light won’t even come on. The replacement is about the same size, more functionality, but not the same quality. Lots of plastic where the SMC had metal. Don’t think I will get seven years out of this one.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *