Until 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.