back to article My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Internal hard drives with dust, fluff and shit on. Bundles of CAT5 all tangled like string. These are some of my least favourite things. Regular readers will know that I have banged on before about our shared tendency to hoard bits of hardware that we don't need. That is, we don't …

Bronze badge

SunBlade 100 (UltraSparcIII) to some opensource projects, no one wanted to take it (no keyboard,

surely it would run headless, and possibly even diskless (net booted)?

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Holmes

After a quick inventory check in "the cupboard that bears no name"

2x 88Mb Syquest drives (SCSI)

1x 200Mb Syquest Drive (SCSI)

Iomega Jaz drive (SCSI)

USB 3.5" Floppy Drive *

1 Fujitsu 3.5" optical drive

Various assorted SCSI/10B2 terminators, T pieces, ultra think cabling etc

Lots of AppleTalk "network" cabling and UI connectors

And most prized possession of all: a Quadra 650 complete with 80Mb HD, 8Mb RAM and a 2Mb Radius graphics card.

* Because I bought a blue G3 with no floppy drive and then bought an Epson colour printer with RIP that required you to have a floppy drive to install the software.

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I just *bought* a ZIP drive --- three, actually, in order to be reasonably confident that I got a working one.

The parallel port interface plus the DOS driver at http://leute.server.de/peichl/palmzipe.htm (which I actually paid money for) allows me to use a ZIP drive as a pretty slow but completely functional hard drive for a *genuinely* interesting piece of hardware I have, a 13kg IBM PC Convertible laptop from 1986. It works pretty well, although I'd completely forgotten just how annoying old-school hard drive whine is.

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I set a 15 years limit on computer tech. After 15 years regardless of the sentimental value it goes out of the loft and into the skip.

I did that once when moving house and somehow my old Sinclair Programmable Calculator (and books) and Z88 must have gone with the proper junk.

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Silver badge

Sinclair programmable calculator

Teaching in Tottenham in the early 80s I had one of those. Locked in my desk, locked in my classroom. One lunch time one (or more) of the little sods managed to get through both locks ( desk one he just broke if I remember correctly) and nicked the thing. I really missed it, too.

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I have a PCMCIA card that is a carrier for a CompactFlash Hard Drive, capacity 256Mb. I can't bring myself to part with it, but why?!

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No way can you have precious. Thieves!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

"I've got a mega-pack of washers, tap-spanners and grinders..."

aka a Soho Threeway

not recommended without vaseline and a few sambucas

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I have 2 Zip drives (one parallel, one USB) and over a lifetime's worth of spare discs, all working when last tested.

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Anonymous Coward

Hoarders.

I am clearing a family members place. Which is like some of the worse, but I guess not the worse, from those shows.

Sadly no rare tech as far as I know, it was all bargain car boot £3 job bits and bobs. Some new tech. Some memories... and a ton of DV camcorders and VHS players.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoarders.

Just found a commodore calculator. Not the entire pc... but smaller if on display on the shelf. XD

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoarders.

Still have my Texas Programmer calculator from 1978. The one that did binary, octal, hex - and functions like XOR. Also a Casio date/day calculator from early 1980s.

A "thing of beauty" - quite literally - is a PC ISA bus prototype card from 1985/6. Handwired with wire-wrap in various dayglo colours. Has two MMI FPGAs and some "superfast" (45ns) SRAM as a state machine for realtime 10mbps Ethernet diagnostics. Plus all my drawings and development notes.

My Bib wire-stripper - which might go back to my teenage 1960s - is still far better than any new designs. It is very rare for it to put a nick the copper when stripping insulation.

Many of my toolboxes' contents date back to 1972 when I first started doing my own car maintenance. The heavy duty pop riveter that was bought to do regular repairs on the Mini-Moke side panels - amazed the neighbours recently when their rusting garage doors needed some rivet replacements.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoarders.

Sadly no rare tech as far as I know, it was all bargain car boot £3 job bits and bobs.

The annoying thing there (aside from the reasons why you're doing the clean up of course :( ) is that sometimes the sellers of these odd bits have no idea of the value of what they have.

I know from having sometimes looked over Ebay and the like, that in my life time I've thrown out enough worthless junk to have been able to buy a reasonable plot of land. Working hardware that I'd never use again, no one would ever want.. but some factory uses that bit on their multi-million $ production line and they urgently need a replacement.. I've seen stuff I once had valued at more than I've earned in the last 2 years!

And at the time if you'd offered me a tenner I would've given it and your money to you. I had no idea what it was worth.

But.. going through and finding what is actually there, and even what works, takes so much time and effort. And that you have to do before you look at finding a buyer etc.

(Those guys on that 'american pickers' show would be the sort you really want to find - but know that if they readily accept a price your value was too low! And no, I don't watch it, it used to be on just before "Family Guy" so I'd sometimes catch the last couple of minutes :( )

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hoarders.

Many of my toolboxes' contents date back to 1972 when I first started doing my own car maintenance.

Dang, I wasn't even breathing in '72!

I still have some of my first vehicle tools as well. More than 30 years of use, yet still good (although I've had to replace an alligator clip on a test light after it got crushed by the last person who borrowed it some 20 years back!). The new stuff just doesn't seem to last. I had a cheap jigsaw that finally died (blade guide worn out) when I pushed it really hard trying to finish off a project before it rained. The high-priced "tradesman grade" unit lasted a few months, as did it's replacement, and the replacement's replacement. My old one was something I brought as a kid on a tight budget to finish cutting parts for a kid's construction project, wasn't expected to last the year. The new one was brought as a tradesman on a tradesman's tool budget, reasonably expected to last several years with heavy use, but the build quality of the modern 'expensive' is not nearly as good as last century's 'cheap junk'.

Oh, I also have some of my great-grandfather's gardening tools now. Yes, original blades and handles, at least on most of them (someone thinks one of the hoes or rakes got a broken handle). There is one axe that needs a new handle. And the G-clamps I use were purchased in the 1950s. The bench vice dates back to the 40s or maybe 30s. Many people tell me I need new tools, I ask them to show me a vice that'll still be as good after even 5 years, let alone 70 years of at least monthly use.

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Windows

Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

Um, Yes, yes they do, I was just asked for a Firewire 800 cable yesterday. And as long as you're talking scsi, yes, we were told to keep the scsi cables as our old tape drive connects via scsi.

My mantra is keep one of everything when possible to avoid the need of everything !

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Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

What if it breaks? Better keep TWO of everything.

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Silver badge

Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

I actually still use Firewire 800 hard drives, so that sort of stuff definitely isn't on my list of things to throw out.

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Coat

Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

@Alistair Dabbs

Fool me once same on you? Break down a second time and you're the next guys problem!

yes, my coat, because there isn't a security guard with a box for your belongings icon

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Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

"My mantra is keep one of everything when possible to avoid the need of everything !"

I try to keep 2 of everything (a la Noah's ark) so that: 1) items don't get lonely 2) they might spawn one day and produce little ones, 3) If one fails when needed, I'll have backup

Have too many small items...cables, etc.. to list, but in addition:

serial mice

1200, 2400, 4800, 5200 modems ( 3 Com ... )

laplink software and cable, developer kits for Lotus, MSDN, Sniffer, PharLap, BoundsChecker, etc.

Novell Netware 4 and all NLMs

complete token ring network - hub, MAUs, cards, cables

AS/400 + CRT + O/S + keyboard

a working HP Laserjet 4+ (still being used)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

"I try to keep 2 of everything "

If one fails - no problem. If two fail then it might be a coincidence. If three fail - give up.

I bought a neat "ghoul" clock cheaply in the after-Halloween sale a couple of years ago. Picked the one that still worked - although the others were probably just dead batteries from "try me" by too many customers. Resisted my usual temptation to do a precautionary "stock up" at bargain prices.

The clock worked perfectly well and was incorporated into the following year's display - only to die a few days before Halloween. None in the shops - but ebay produced several - mostly at very eye-watering marked-up prices. Finally bought the cheapest which cost about 50% more than the store's full price the previous year. A great success on the night.

Ordered a transistor which was possibly dead in the original clock - but never found time in 12 months to do the diagnostics etc.

This year - while setting up the display - a neighbour's 4 year old wanted to set the clock running every day. A few days before Halloween it developed a mechanical fault.*** Resisted the temptation to try to take it apart to fix it - a crude circumvention was possible. Found another one on ebay - again at about a 50% premium. Then found that the mechanical fault was easy to see and fix without taking the clock apart.

The moral of the story is - when you see a quantity of something at a bargain price - buy at least three.

**If he hadn't tested it to destruction it would probably have failed on the night. The five minute job of fitting fresh batteries on the day took somewhat longer than expected. Some well-known makes of "AA" batteries had incompatible length positive terminals.

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A deadline ?

Is that like an isdn line that you keep just in case ?

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LDS
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Re: A deadline ?

Storage unit costs? Are the Ds moving somewhere?

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Re: A deadline ?

Well, I may not be able to beat you for age of old junk, but does anyone need a fully functional desktop system and accessories for publishing from, say, 2001 or so? I've got this tower with a wonderful pentium in there, a whole 256 MB of memory, and a 30 GB hard drive. It has USB 1 ports, though one is broken, and of course a slow CD reader that is the major way of getting data into it. Plus a scanner that uses a firewire 400 connection and weighs about sixty kilos. There's a printer, too, some inkjet thing that you probably can't actually get cartridges for, but it's still there. I plead not guilty; this is at my parents' house, and somehow I always get sidetracked though I've wanted to get rid of the thing for at least five years now.

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Anonymous Coward

Guilty!

I'm just as guilty here as Alistair. I've got a collection of Iomega drives - Zip, Jaz and Rev - plus install disks for Windows NT 4.0, a set of genuine Laplink cables, and a Handspring Treo 600. Yes, one of the few Treo 600 models produced before the company was acquired by Palm.

All of this and a *lot* more is sitting around my house because I have some vague hope that some of it might be worth something someday!

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DJV
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Re: Guilty!

Some places are still selling that sort of stuff:

http://www.bmsoftware.co.uk/windows/index.htm

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guilty!

You mean this isn't going to be my golden nest egg? Bah!

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Re: Guilty!

LapLink, bloody hell. Memories. Not good ones.

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Silver badge

Re: Guilty!

"LapLink, bloody hell. Memories. Not good ones."

Rooting around for something else the other day, I came across my home-made "hydra" laplink cable which has 25 pin serial at each end, with an extra lead out from each 25 pin to a 9 pin serialand also 25 pin D printer port plugs. It saved on carrying adaptors. Tangled up with it was with an actual Dymo labelled cable on it saying "ParNet" from my old Amiga days :-)

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Re: Guilty!

Talking about 25 pins serial cables, I still have a patch module for serial connection, the type where you could build ad-hoc connection by patching this pin to that pin and creating all types of fancy cables.

It has been around since I joined in early 1993.

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Silver badge

Peeking?

I thought Alistair had been peeking into my old home office for a minute, but it's a crate full of old Nokia chargers, two modular Xircom Port stations, and various old WiFi routers and, ...er, a 56k modem (or two),... nearest the Window,.... the other three crates,....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Peeking?

"the other three crates,...."

At the last count there are 64 x 35 litre crates lining the garage walls floor to ceiling. Plus half a dozen in the order of 80 litres - and several of the old "stacker" types. That excludes others stored in the garden shed - and its added annex. All nicely labelled so things can be found - one of the (according to friends) rare bits of organisation in my life. Actually my creed is "everything in its place" - but the problem is providing "a place for everything". The planned new shed annex might help.

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Silver badge

Re: Peeking?

"All nicely labelled so things can be found"

That's cheating!

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Anonymous Coward

Just one more thing...

I'll find a use for these 10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators some day I tell you!

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Silver badge

Re: Just one more thing...

@AC: "10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators"

I don't have any of those in my crates. They are in the little blue toolbox, under the desk. : -)

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Re: Just one more thing...

Caps too light.

Three or more T-pieces make pretty desk boss toy.

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Thumb Up

Re: Just one more thing...

Ah, they'd be the perfect accompaniment to the 87.5m roll of co-axial cable I have in the spares box in the garage (or is it in the loft?)

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Re: Just one more thing...

Yea, I have a few, and the T-pieces as well. But no cards that I could use with them anywhere.

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IT Angle

Re: Just one more thing...

Contact your local amateur radio club, very useful for making low power RF measurements.

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Re: Just one more thing...

I've got a 3Com 8-port hub to hang off it.

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Re: 10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators

I use them on my HP 141T plug ins. The 8555 used a good few, also some other test gear. I'm also using some of the shorter cables replaced in 1998 by Cat5.

Also I've converted some T into L adaptors.

Dumped a load of MS Select, MSDN and TechNet disks from 1993 to 2001 last month.

Dumped a load of EISA cards (RAID SCSI), early ISA CAD video with VGA daughter boards, 8088 to 486 Mobos and screens a couple of years ago and missed none of it. I must have another clearout in attic so I can move the more modern IT stuff and old collectable non-IT stuff to attic.

Anyone want a real IBM AT with AST memory cards, VGA, various floppy and maybe 2 x MFM HDDs (with spares?)

Or copies of Word 2.0a on CD (copied from Floppy 14 years ago, plus manuals and licenses)?

A bunch of 17" multisync CRTs?

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I3N
Pint

Re: Just one more thing...

Only if one port is a Hi-Z port ...

I think (50 * 50)/(50+50) still equals 25 ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just one more thing...

Remember scuttling the plan of a co-worker to open them up and replace w/75 Ohm resistors and 'give' them to our in-house competition.

In response to being told we couldn't ping our devices over their network.

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Silver badge
Facepalm

I used to have a box of pentium 2 processors and some compatible motherboards.

The cable clear out has happened although I've still got 3 palm pilots, a few Win 6 phones, a P1 with a Voodoo 1 coprocessing card and fuck know what else junk kicking around. My only regrets are not holding onto more of it.

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Silver badge

This is not limited to IT stuff only. I had for decades a towel holder meant to be placed on a specific form of heater. For decades I had never the use, all the flats I was in had incompatible heaters. I threw it away. A few months later, I moved to a house were it would have been useful :doh:

My mom uses to say that "objects are mean" - She's absolutely right.

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Silver badge

Bin it all.

Just Do It. √

Feels great once you break your compulsive hoarding disorder.

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Re: Bin it all.

But then you'll spend the next few weeks trying to source it all on eBay as inevitably you'll have a need for the stuff you just chucked away. Did you even read the article?

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Re: Bin it all.

No it doesn't. If you wish to be the "agile" bloke with a toothbrush and a shirt as his sole possessions, be my guest. My existence is supported by the things around me, even when they're no longer of any practical use, and their loss diminishes me - and before you start, we both know it's not the odd USB cable I'm talking about here. And I will not be sending that stuff into the sunset, regardless of who might find it objectionable. It's part of me. It stays. You do whatever you want.

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Silver badge

Its not All or nothing!

Its a balancing act.

I'm on the lean side , due to lack of space . 2 boxes of cables (scarts and other older ones have been chucked) 1 box vinyl . one shed containing a dismantled car that is the same model as the one i drive .

1 box misc pci cards etc

You have to weigh up the odds of someone wanting to pay you money to show up with a parallel floppy drive that only works in xp against the cubic inches it takes up.

We all wish we had a magic shed like the Tardis... but most dont.

Software ans files on the other hand.... hoard as much as you want! Hard drive storage is massive and so cheap you can keep anything! (within reason)(a 100 disc blu ray collection is not "within reason" - keep that on tye discs it came on)

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re It's part of me. It stays.

Look forward to seeing you on the "hoarders" tv programme ....

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Re: Bin it all.

the "agile" bloke with a toothbrush and a shirt as his sole possessions

That's going too far. Even Jack Reacher has trousers too.

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