Today, it is fair to say that the Internet as we know it runs on Cisco hardware. Although you may never see them at work, it is very likely that every network packet that leaves your computer or smartphone will spend at least a few milliseconds of its life being manufactured by a company located in San Jose, California hardware. But of course, even a telecommunications giant like Cisco must start somewhere.
Cisco’s first commercial router, Advanced Gateway Server (AGS), was released in 1986, helping the company (and the Internet) embark on an incredible path to success. [Andreas Semmelmann] For some time, he has wanted to add one of the microwave oven-sized machines to his collection, So when AGS+ appeared in the local classified ads, he did not hesitate to drive for an hour to pick it up. But like many old computing devices, it needs a little help to get back on its feet.
Because he had to disassemble the router to diagnose its problems anyway, [Andreas] Decided to take photos along the way to record this network history. He led the card reader through the large processors, Ethernet, and serial cards installed in the rack-mount enclosures of the equipment. We thank him for taking this scenic route because it gave us a good understanding of the most advanced telecommunications equipment when this version of AGS was launched on the market in 1989.
The exercise was full of interesting details and made us aware of the progress of things over the past 32 years. Imagine that every time you need to update the router’s firmware, pull the EPROM out of the board and start the UV eraser. Or a special adapter is needed to convert the AUI-15 connector on the rear panel to the now ubiquitous RJ45 jack.
After walking along the memory trail, [Andreas] Enter the actual maintenance work. Ordinary Hackaday readers may not be surprised to find that the power supply is not operating according to specifications, and some aging capacitors and short-circuited rectifier diodes need to be replaced to restore stability. But even if the PSU is repaired, the router cannot start. The console output shows that the software crashed, but the hardware diagnostics did not show an obvious failure.
Through the exchange of certain parts, the firmware flashes, even from Cisco Outstanding People [Phillip Remaker], The problem was finally determined to be a problem with the environmental monitoring (ENVM) card installed in AGS+.Fortunately, the ENVM function is not required to start the router, so [Andreas] Can just disconnect the card and continue his exploration of the hardware that helps build the Internet as we know it.
Considering its age, this Cisco device from the 1980s is in a relatively good final state. But this is not always the case. Over the years, we have found ourselves in awe of the amount of time, energy and skill it took to repair these classic machines. We have great respect for those dedicated people who are willing to accept the challenge, let these historical fragments continue to pass on, and amaze future generations.
[Thanks to Bob for the tip.]