Tandy 102 Web Server

When I decided to start adamslab.io one of the first things I started to work on was hosting for the domain, since I was on a limited budget for the project I decided to host the domain myself rather then pay for hosting. The only thing I needed was a computer that I could use as a web server. Normally, getting my hands on a computer wouldn’t be a problem as I generally have at least one old system lying around. However, at the time my surplus of spare computers was limited; I had a couple of computers that I could have used but they were all dedicated to other tasks and I needed a dedicated system for the web server.

When cleaning out my garage I came across an old Tandy 102 Portable Computer. It didn’t occur to me at first, but later I wondered if somehow I could use the Tandy 102 as my web server. I started to take a look at the system and realized that being manufactured in 1987 it was never conceived that someone might want to use the Tandy 102 as a web server for their blog.

There were some definite problems that had to be overcome:

  • Very limited memory – 32K
  • Very limited storage – but it has an interface for a tape drive
  • No Ethernet port – but it has a modem

Through some trial and error I was able to interface a standard 80GB IDE hard drive with the tape drive port on the Tandy 102, I thought about using a flash drive which may have been easier to interface but I wouldn’t have gotten the storage I need. Getting the phone port (modem) interfaced with an Ethernet port was a bit more complicated but I was able to do it eventually. To get passed the memory constraints of the Tandy 102 I interfaced a 1GB USB flash drive to supplement its 32K. I decided early on in the project to use Ubuntu as the Linux distro, this made setting up the LAMP server easy as Ubuntu has a server distribution that has an automatic LAMP install. It took some doing but eventually I was able to get Ubuntu installed on the hard drive and get the Tandy 102 to boot form the hard drive.

After some configuration of the LAMP server I installed WordPress, configured the DNS settings for the domain to point to my home’s public IP address and the server was live. Overall I’m quite pleased with its performance at only 2Mhz it serves the site pretty well. It also has low power consumption and can run off 4 AA batteries for hours – built in UPS!

photo goodness: (click on image for full size)

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