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Old Computer Software People Still Use Today [We Ask You Results]

Dave Parrack 03-09-2014

Just because something is newer doesn’t mean it’s better. There have been many instances of companies releasing new products that are actually flawed in some way, making people wish they had stuck with what they knew before.


This is especially true when it comes to computer software, with newer versions of existing programs either not working with older operating systems or just sucking on a fundamental level.

We explored these veterans of computer software in last week’s We Ask You, and the discussion threw up a long list of long-forgotten programs that someone, somewhere, still uses to this day.

Old, But Not Outdated

We asked you,What Is The Oldest Piece Of Computer Software You Still Use? We had a very satisfying number of responses, and the range of old software that was named and shamed applauded meant we could venture on a nostalgic trip to yesteryear and beyond.

Anyway, enough babbling. What follows is a list of just some of the old computer software people (namely, MakeUseOf readers) are using today. To see the full discussion please take the time to read last week’s We Ask You.

  • Fireworks MX 2004
  • Zork
  • Spinrite
  • Sidekick 99
  • SnagIt v8
  • Quicken 2006
  • Jasc PainShop Pro 7
  • ACDSee
  • Lotus Organizer
  • Turbo Pascal v5.5
  • Cool Edit Pro
  • Proxomitron
  • Visual Studio 6.0
  • DiskMapper
  • Pash
  • Windows for Workgroups 3.11
  • Turbo C++
  • Microsoft Picture It!
  • IrfanView

The reasons people gave for still using this old computer software included pure nostalgia, a why-fix-what-isn’t-broken mentality, and it still being the best thing available for their particularly niche need. All of which are valid excuses (if excuses is the correct word).


Comment Of The Week

We received a lot of great comments, including those from Amrit K, Tom W, and Henk van Setten. Comment Of The Week goes to Xoandre, who won with this comment:

You want really old? Try this one:

I have a 5.25? floppy disc with AppleWorks 1.2 on one side and my saved writings on the other. This disc requires an Apple IIe to operate and I was recently given access to my late father’s storage facility, where he kept his Apple IIe, Apple LISA, Commodore 64, and his teal-colored iMac.

I have been trying to make sure I have all the components together for the Apple IIe so that I can boot up AppleWorks once again and get a printout of those writings.

I also have the original 5.25? floppies for Where in the World (and Where in Time) is Carmen Sandiego? as well as INFOCOM classic games collections for PC – DOS games like Zork I, II, III, Wishbringer, Leisure Suit Larry, King’s Quest, and others. I also have the booklets with InvisiClues.

Slightly more modern, on my Windows 7 PC I still use Macromedia Flash MX for Flash design, PhotoShop CS & Illustrator CS (no numbers), 3D StudioMax 7.0, and have just reinstalled Civilization III via Steam for a better gameplay experience than Civ IV. Eventually Civ V will be an option, once its price drops.

My library of games and software extends back in time to when I was a child sitting in the Public Library, dreading when the person waiting to use the lone Apple IIe would end my 20 minute turn for the day, and hoping there would be a shift-change so i could get back on and continue working on my writings in AppleWorks.

We chose this comment because, not only was AppleWorks 1.2 one of the oldest pieces of computer software named during the discussion, enough details are included to add some much-needed context. The inclusion of some classic DOS games 7 Sites To Find The Best Classic DOS Games Read More provided the succulent icing on top of the already delicious cake.

We Ask You is a weekly column in which you have your say about a particular subject. We ask you a question each week, with the results compiled and compressed into a follow-up article the following week. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Vox Efx via Flickr


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  1. Think Different
    September 21, 2014 at 2:50 am

    The original MacWrite in an emulator. 1985 may not be as old as some of the titles listed here, but old enough that it was still in black and white. :-)

  2. Joshua Barrett
    September 13, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Emacs, vi, the BSD networking stack, and many other UNIX utils date back to the dawn of computing

  3. Greg
    September 11, 2014 at 4:22 am

    I still use Parson's Technology's Money Counts, which worked under Win 3.1. It's double entry accounting, which hasn't changed, still runs under current OS's. Very simple to use.

  4. Erika Whitmore
    September 11, 2014 at 1:52 am

    If anyone can help me with this - I will not only be amazed I will be your best friend forever: (off-topic - I remember playing the original Leisure Suit Larry on my Dad's PC back in the mid to late 80's. Too funny!) OK - my dilemma: way back in the Paleolithic Era when I was still in college, we didn't all have PC computers to do our homework and write our papers. I had something others drooled over though; a Brother word processor with built in disk drive and printer. An all-in-one "portable" (ha ha) early computer. Anyway, I still have all the hard disks (they say "2D" on them?) and at the time was told that not only were they formatted to be played only on Brother machines, but they were formatted ONLY for my specific piece of junk. I no longer have the word processor but I have the disks, and I would give my life savings (around $232, lol) to print out the vast cornucopia of miscellany on them. Everything from class papers to the journal entries and poetry of a angst college co-ed in the late 80's. So - what are my options? Does anyone know of ANY such data storage retrieval company (I'm guessing) that can get my stuff off the ancient hard floppy disk and either onto a newer media (CD, DVD, flash drive, etc.) or at least printed out onto paper? If so - PLEASE let me know! I wasn't kidding about being your best friend. I'll mail you some cake or something....;-) P.S. I love this site SO much it's on my main bookmark toolbar. Thank you in advance and sorry for the hideously long post. - EW

    • Domino
      September 26, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      Try to find a working one on eBay.

      If it uses a 3 1/2" disk, you can buy a 3 1/2" diskdrive to USB. Try to read it with a hex editor or some other tool. I can only assume the files are in some sort of plain text/ascii that will allow you to extract the information.

      If it's a 5 1/4"
      might work. Good luck

    • Gullu Tyagi
      October 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      If you just upload the binary dumps somewhere, I might try to look into it

  5. Ahmad
    September 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I use Total Commander on all of my Windows machines and can't live without it!

  6. Hildy J
    September 3, 2014 at 11:30 pm


    Yes it's been around for forever but it's still actively maintained, and free, and as near to a required program as you can get. Just because the current version was released two months ago doesn't make it old.

    • Dave P
      September 4, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      That's true, but seeing as it was first released in 1996 it totally counts. I mean, Windows 95 had plenty of updates released, but you wouldn't (shouldn't) want to be using that now.

    • Hildy J
      September 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      True, but people should understand that, unlike most of the programs on the list, Irfan continues to update his software and it (and all its plug-ins) run fine on Windows 8.1 (desktop).

      As far as software that's been around for decades, I still use Total Commander (which was called Windows Commander when I first installed it). But I don't use it on my Windows PCs anymore; I use their Android port on my Nexus.

  7. Rocco R
    September 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I still have DOS 5 on a VM on my Mac. Not too many applications in that VM though. I guess I could put good old Lotus 1-2-3 on it.

  8. Mark B
    September 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Quicken 2000 still works a treat for me

  9. Austin Burnham
    September 3, 2014 at 6:40 am

    I still love Civ III, and I remember fondly King's Quest.

    • Dave P
      September 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Both are still eminently playable IMHO.

  10. iMacMike
    September 3, 2014 at 5:36 am

    I use QuickBasic 5 in a DOSBox emulator every day on my Windows 7 work machine.

    • Dave P
      September 4, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      So that's about 25 years old? That is incredible when you think about it.

  11. Tim B
    September 3, 2014 at 4:15 am

    Man I'm getting a serious nostalgia rush looking down that list!

    • Dave P
      September 4, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Tell me about it. But then the rush quickly gave way to the realization I am an old man :(

  12. Liandri
    September 3, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Directory Opus! Since... outch, i'm old...

    • Dave P
      September 4, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Don't worry, we're all old here...