A 20-year old cable release!? Geez, don't complain that it's given up the ghost, that's a decent innings — you'll probably look a little frayed around the edges too after 20 years!!
I went through 4 cables in 6 months, though I had to work in wet and cold weather (this is the point of undoing for cloth-covered releases, but rust has also been known to enter the so-called sealed, stainless steel braided releases). Fortunately, the ones I have now are the real deal and more than 2 years old; I have added a couple to my collection (well, I had GAS, you see...).