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Brit online retailer 'runs' store site with Commodore 64s, PETs

All a sham, Ebuyer.com admits, but some aren't amused

July 8, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A British online retailer "runs" its Web site using a bunch of obsolete home computers from the early 1980s, according to Internet monitoring company Netcraft Ltd.

Information delivered by Netcraft's site report for U.K.-based technology retailer Ebuyer.com claims that the online store's server software runs off a pair of Commodore PETS, two Commodore 64s, three Sinclair ZX Spectrums, an MSX Toshiba HX-10, one Dragon 32 and a Cray supercomputer.

With the exception of the Cray -- the model wasn't specified -- no system on the Ebuyer.com server list was made after 1984. The most RAM any of the original machines contained was 64KB and several, including the PET, Toshiba and Dragon, had half or less than half that much memory.

Of course, the list is bogus, an Ebuyer.com system administrator admitted on the company's own customer forum yesterday, several hours after the British technology site Channel Register ran a story about the Netcraft findings. "We added these bogus Server strings ages ago, partly as an in-joke and partly to confuse would-be crackers who like to nose around more than they should," said someone identified as "James" on the forum. "It's only taken them a good year or so to notice!"

But the list had some users going. "I am very very impressed with the IT staff there though, I've never heard of Apache running with less than 6 megs of memory (OS included) before," wrote "corrine" in a comment posted to the Channel Register story. Most, however, figured it was all a joke, though some didn't see much humor in the fakery.

"If only the ebuyer.com website didn't respond like it really *was* run on a Commode [sic] 64 this would be more amusing," an unidentified reader said.

Ebuyer.com has made the news earlier this year, but for decidedly unfunny reasons. In February and again in April, for instance, the online retailer stole sales copy from rivals and posted it verbatim on its own site, according to reports by the Channel Register.

Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.



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