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I am trying to find information and resources about connecting 18-12 years old devices to Internet, and more specifically PDAs and phones (*).

The purpose is recreational and curiosity, so no the lack security is not a problem

What technologies and services will fail and which ones are still working fine?

What So you think about old devices and the usage of the technologies/protocols in the below list?

Connection technology and possible limitations:

  • SIM card
    • incompatible format (size)
    • incompatible security/encryption
  • Wifi
    • incompatibilities with Mode/Speed
    • security protocols.
  • Bluetooth DUN
  • Bluetooth tethering
  • Ethernet compatibility

Internet services for testing (failing, working):

  • Web
    • Issues with protocols
    • Issues with technologies
    • Compatible webpages (for testing)
  • Other technologies
    • RSS
    • IM (jabber,....
    • gopher
    • others
  • email
    • Issues with protocols
    • Compatible services (POP3/SMTP)
  • Others

(*) Answer related to computers can be also interesting but they will have less limitations and issues, as there are some operating systems that were receiving updates on protocols, apps and webbrowsers.

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    What's your question? – knol Jun 3 at 16:27
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    I suspect what you are asking is "What modern commonly used Internet technologies will fail on old (>15 yrs) devices"? I think the answer is modern Javascript and modern SSL, both of which require a recently updated browser (or software library if run outside of the browser). – Brian H Jun 3 at 17:11
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    @JimNelson The statement was not the usability of old web pages in new browsers, but new web pages in old browsers. They really don't work. A lot of new standards appeared and backward compatibility became a no-issue. – peterh - Reinstate Monica Jun 3 at 17:17
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    “Improving a question’s focus” doesn’t mean “listing everything you’d like to see described”, it means reducing the question’s scope (in this case, drastically). Your question is far, far too broad. – Stephen Kitt Jun 4 at 8:56
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    Although improved by the edit, this is still something of a list question and therefore very broad for the StackExchange format. However, there is some merit in it. After all, there are still Telnet and Gopher servers out there if you want to play. I've reopened the question and lets see if the community runs with it or decides to close it again. – Chenmunka Jun 4 at 9:22
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For web pages, you can use the Web rendereing proxy, displaying modern web pages inside a GIF and imagemap. It works well, though Google Captcha often thinks (rightfully) that it is not a human controlling the web browser and won't let you through.

For pretty much anything else, you can try to locate a VNC client for your platform, There are clients even for ZX Spectrum and MS DOS, albeit the latter is not quite finished. This of course assumes your platform can display graphics at all (no IBM PC with MDA). Although you probably have to de-configure modern security settings (like encryption) at the server side. Expect problems with entering non-ASCII characters, fancy keyboard layout and scrollwheel.

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The problem is the HTTPS today. There is a huge push to migrate off of HTTP and on to HTTPS. But older machines simply can't do the necessary encryption in time.

But much of this can be mitigate off-device by routing through a proxy that takes HTTP traffic on one side (device side), and talks HTTPS out the other (internet side). It's not drag and drop, but it's doable.

After that it's a content problem. As a consumer, there's not much we can do about the content issue. You can potentially lower the complexity of pages by "looking like" a mobile device (mobile site can trend toward a simpler presentation), but even still you'd potentially face crippled sites when Javascript does not work.

A good way to check this out is to use a terminal based browser, like lynx. While it certainly supports HTTPS, it doesn't support (I don't believe) CSS or Javascript. So, using this can give folks a better idea what a tech limited view of a website might be.

As for other protocols, we find today that chips the bridge protocols for smaller microcontrollers have more computing capacity than the devices we try to connect just to keep up with the protocol. The "universal" adapter today is USB. There's pretty much a bridge from USB to most anything: Ethernet, Bluetooth, IDE, SCSI, etc.

Get USB connectivity to the device, then everything is but a proper driver away.

Mind, it's not "easy", but it's possible. There are several SPI interfaces to USB adapters. Most devices aren't "real time", and designed to be buffered, so with proper handshaking, your glacial ancient device will be able to readily read and write to others via USB.

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  • Extra performance required for Secure pages is bad but in any event many old devices doesn't have webbrowser that support HTTPS :( A proxy service that transform HTTPS in HTTP seems a good solution. Do you know any? Regarding USB interfaces is seems great for computers but i think it will no apply to old phones and PDAs. – Daniel Perez Jun 8 at 8:58

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