back to article STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

A staple of radio phone-ins is to invite listeners to share their stories about funny things they found when moving into a new property. There are some tales that everyone can share, such as front doors fitted with a letterbox so small that you’d struggle to fit a postcard through without having to fold it in half. There are …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's with all the moaning ?

    As I started to read this, I thought it was going to be about some old tech he'd found. As it is, it seems to be props for a photo shoot of the futuristic tech our boss keeps telling us will be invented some time !

  2. Derek Thomas


    I have an 8 inch floppy and nothing to put it in.

  3. Isendel Steel

    Re: Help

    Viagra won't be any good then ?

  4. Darryl

    Re: Help

    Beats the heck out of only have a 3 1/2 inch one

  5. The Man Himself Silver badge


    Three words for you...Gasmask Kazoo Orchestra. (search for it on the Tube of You, and you'll see what I mean)

  6. Toxteth O'Gravy

    Re: Gasmasks

    Prefer Wilf Gasmask Grimshaw, myself.

    Whatever happened to the Grumbleweeds?

  7. Craig Vaughton

    Missing something

    Other than the respirators being useless without the active filter that attaches to the hole on the front...

    I don't suppose you found some loose doors stacked up in the same room as the drawers with the respirators in, when you've pretty obvious you've got a full complement attached in the relevant doorways, possibly unfilled sandbags and definitely pamphlets labelled "Protect and Survive"?

  8. big_D Silver badge

    Don't know it?

    *Don’t knock the eMac either: I laid out a tabloid newspaper on one of those for almost a year.*

    Yes Alistair, but tabloids are usually daily papers, not annual. ;-)

  9. Alistair Dabbs

    Re: Don't know it?

    Most tabloids are not dailies.

  10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    When I moved into my place there was a safe in the cellar. It took about a year to struggle the thing out into the daylight to leave it for passing gippos.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Faster to do it by hand

    Don’t knock the eMac either: I laid out a tabloid newspaper on one of those for almost a year

    Reliable Sources have informed me that the eMac wasn't quite that slow.

  12. Alistair Dabbs

    Re: Faster to do it by hand

    Speed has nothing to do with it. Trying to negotiate 280x390mm pages on a blurry, shimmering 16in display running at 1152x864 or migraine-hammering 1280x960 running at what appeared to be 1Hz was no fun at all.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In your previous column, you mentioned lingerie models.

  14. GlenP

    Safes etc.

    When I joined the current employer I inherited several iMACs (we'd been a Windows site for a couple of years), several firewall boxes, all redundant (it appears a former external support person would sell the company another one when he was short of beer money) and various other kit. Later on when we moved a remote plant I also inherited two spare complete phone systems but managed to junk a load of CRTs.

    On movign into our current head office I gained an entire room complete with Chubb safe door. Getting the cabling in through the 6" reinforced concrete ceiling was interesting but if anyone wants to pinch my servers they'll have an interesting time!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A staple of radio phone-ins is to invite listeners to share their stories about funny things they found when moving into a new property.

    When I moved into my current house the previous owners left a mountain of tat behind. This included an enormous piss soaked dog kennel in a summer house at the bottom of the garden (I hadn't even known about the summer house before moving in, as it was hidden behind a row of trees). In the loft I found a folder full of business cards for bars and clubs in France, all with multi-coloured flag logos and many with the phrase "hairy bears" written in French. I Googled the phrase, and then wished I hadn't.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You're sitting on a goldmine there.

    - The eMac will sell itself on eBay to one of the many Apple hoarders.

    - The typewriter - at a wedding show recently we were quoted 50 quid to hire a typewriter, like the one there with a bit of plastic ivy glued to it. The 'retro' wedding craze is in full swing and is an absolute cashcow to those in the know.

    - The filing cabinets - used car dealers love these for storing V5s, MOTs, dodgy stamped service history books etc. - can't do that with a computer!

  17. Richard 45

    Compared to many offices in rural Wales (and probably rural UK in general), this stuff is futuristic C22nd kit.

  18. Frankee Llonnygog

    Judging by the list of equipment

    your office is actually the Government's 'hi-tech' COBRA war-room

  19. the spectacularly refined chap

    Re: Judging by the list of equipment

    your office is actually the Government's 'hi-tech' COBRA war-room

    Don't even joke about that - it's closer to the truth than you realise. I recall reading a news feature on Cobra a couple of years ago. It's where the nuclear button is kept.

    It's a Telex machine.

  20. earl grey Silver badge

    a handful of cobalt bits

    And a leccy drill and you're in the safe in no time. Permission granted.

  21. Gannettt

    As a spotty work-experience lad in the late 1980s working for a company making milling equipment, someone pried open a locked cupboard door and found a hoard of candles, drinking water and ancient packs of Walker's ready salted crisps, apparently stored up during the 1973 3-day week. We all went home with boxes of huge white candles, but nobody was very interested in the water or crisps (I guess nobody liked ready salted!)

    At school we were taught to type on ancient Olympia and Silver Reed typewriters similar to those pictured. The teacher was of a similar vintage and looked like she had stepped straight out of a 1950s office, including perm and Dame Edna glasses. The smell of the fluid she used to clean the typewriters was intoxicating. It was sad when she retired and the new broom junked all the machines the old teacher had so lovingly cared for over the years and replaced them with electronic daisywheels.

  22. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


    I'd be surprised if they were Walkers. Back in 1973, the major brands in the UK were Smiths and Golden Wonder and Tudor.

    If I remember correctly, Walkers crisps (which appear to actually be another brand of the same company that produced Smiths crisps) started appearing nationwide around 1978/79, and caused much confusion because prior to Walkers, everybody had Salt and Vinegar crisps in blue bags and Cheese and Onion in green.

    Interestingly, Golden Wonder are back in the shops, still with the old colours for the flavours.

  23. Terry 6 Silver badge

    It works both ways

    Some years back the educational support team I was helping to run deperately needed networking and collaborative sharing of documents etc.

    As IT co-ordinator I made a strong business case, which was agreed.

    I expected them to get us a server, or at least network the exisitng PCs and give us a shared drive.

    But no. Someone higher up decided he needed a new network for his office, or something.

    So we got sent the newly redundant Unix box, and a bunch of dumb terminals, with nice glowing orange screens - and some inbuilt software that no one working there had any idea how to use and had no compatibility with our existing stuff ( Windows/Office etc) or the software the schools we worked with were using. They then spent a fortune on cabling but couldn't get it to work properly. It just took up valuable desk space next to our Windows boxes.

    Eventually they agreed it was no good, and said they'd take it back, so I disconnected it all and stacked it in pile a corner to be collected: Every year on the anniversary of the pile I printed a little plaque. Usually just before one of the high-ups made his annual visit.

    Eventually I think we skipped it all ourselves.

    The cabling remained in place, all round the building, mixed in with phone wires, alarm cables, and who knows what else, causing intense confusion for anyone trying to do any work on the building and sometimes trailling on the floor and tripping people up..

  24. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Don't dump those dial phones, they're worth drinking money!


  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re; The Safe

    You just need somebody to blow the bloody door off!


    Key to the safe? Any locksmith will tell you that the original is lost and the spare is...

    ... in the safe. Doh!

  27. Sokolik

    Vydec, Anyone?

    As this is a 1980's office and I was an office manager part of the '80's, I'm surprised at the absence of word processors. Sounds so silly now, doesn't it?!? Then, "word processor" was a big piece of hardware; now "word processor" is software. Also, from this long view, it seems likewise comically-ironic and unbelievable one of the leading word-processor vendors was a subsidiary of...Exxon!?!

  28. TopScot31

    Excellent Article ...

    Alistair ... congrats! ... the article is excellent ... Spring Cleaning ? ... a good example of why not! On the good side ... you might just make money on these old items ... some of them MUST be unique and there is always a market for the most unlikely things!

    Thanks for making my day!

  29. IGnatius T Foobar

    Manual typewriters make great steampunk keyboards

    With a little effort, manual typewriters can be transformed into awesome looking steampunk type keyboards.

    Tux logo because Windows is an abomination and cool people use Linux exclusively.

  30. Michael Wojcik Silver badge


    If you think vertical filing makes an unwieldy database, you should consider its predecessors: flat filing, chapbooks, and pidgeonholes. The last especially produced some real data-retrieval nightmares, like the Wooton Patent Desk.

    JoAnne Yates' Control Through Communication includes an excellent study of the evolution of filing methods through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and their effects on how business was conducted. She has some useful things to say about the typewriter, too.

    And hey - I had one of those Olympia typewriters, in that same style of case. It had been my mother's college typewriter. First typewriter I ever used; as a young lad (around 6 or 7) I would copy pages from my favorite novels out with it. I was perhaps a bit monkish.

  31. EJ

    Probably cliched but still...

    Our new secretary to the HR director, when moving her stuff into the retired secretary's desk, reported finding several love notes between the retired HR secretary and the former director of HR. Everyone who knew both of them were somewhat surprised by that.


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