back to article The hoarder's dilemma, or 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

I like my house zen. Unfortunately, I am a hoarder, so it’s not. My half-life wife has been trying to educate me by making me watch TV programmes with titles like Extreme Hoarders, I Can’t Stop Hoarding and Smelly Old Fat Bastards Who Don’t Wash And Won’t Throw Anything Away. To some extent, this does the trick. After each …

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Hmm, I have a lot of worthless stuff but a few gems live in my garage

There's a Powermac 5500 "Director Edition" (the black one) with the correct, black keyboard and correct, black mouse

A mint Commodore 1526 dot matrix printer with original box and packaging

An Apple Newton modem (the Newton is around somewhere but they got separated)

All for sale at very unreasonable prices!

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Silver badge

Reusable

The sad thing is that I took all the usable kit to a computer recycling charity recently.

What I have left is of no conceivable use to anyone, except I could possibly frame one or two of the really ancient and obscure expansion cards and hang them on the wall.

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That autograph...

...Jimmy Saville, is it not???

Might be worth holding onto. Unless you have a stpry behind it that you can sell to the newspapers for a large amount of wedge.

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Silver badge

Been bitten before ...

I needed to install the OS on a printer* after replacing the failed HD. COuld I find the external SCSI CD drive and cables I needed ? Could I f**k - had to borrow them. Best of it is, I know I've had all the parts I needed to hand at some point in the past.

* Before anyone asks, yes I really do mean install the OS on the printer. Old Canon colour laser with Fiery RIP.

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Facepalm

Me 2

I plead guilty to all of the above, plus electronic parts going back 40 years or more.

In a rare fit of cleanup I recycled half a dozen Linksys WRT54GS routers, keeping one for a DD-WRT firmware project, only to find a month later that I had dumped all the version 3's and 4's and kept a useless version 7.

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Does anyone want:-

An ISA soundblaster AWE64.

A ISA NE2000-compatible networkcard, with AUI port

A SyQuest 135 drive with 4 (I think) cartridges? Might even have that drivers on 3.5 floppy.

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Anonymous Coward

we could all meet up on the M4 corridor and play swapsies, then recreate that computer out of Superman II

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does anyone want:-

No.

no we don't.

we've all got our own

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I've got a WM-4 - in silver. Build like a brick shithouse. Dropped so many times and still working. Had to 'fix' bits with araldite, but still going. Or would be if I had any tapes.

Sounds quality was, and still is, very good on the WM-4. Much better than any of the more recent tape WM's in the same price range.

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Anonymous Coward

* BUILT

The past tense of the verb 'to build' is BUILT.

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Childcatcher

I took the (extreme) cure

I helped my folks move house two years ago. My dad is a hoarder, but is also disabled. Mom distracted him while I emptied everything I could into the construction dumpster they had rented for the purpose. I filled the dumpster six or seven times (I lost count toward the end). When it was time for me to transfer to a new location, I dropped about 50% of what we had in the house, mostly old computer equipment. Yes, I sorted and recycled what I could. No, it is not missed.

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Thumb Up

Re: I took the (extreme) cure

Been there, done that, when we moved my M-I-L into a nursing home.

TWO 30 cu yd dumpsters.

//this may be of use to someone, somewhere

//but not me and not now, so it goes in the dumpster

//powerful motivation for me...

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Ebayed most of the attic contents last year.

Two Speccys went (with accessories including ZX and Alphacom printer, Interface 1 and 2 and a DKtronics keyboard) - as did a QL (with several working microdrives !), and an IBM XT PC. Oh and a portable valve radio. And an Imperial typewriter. The Atari ST didn't sell (happily).

Pride of place goes to the two remaining valve radios (one a radio rentals branded set from when they rented radios !) and, joy of joy, a fully functional Rolf Harris Stylophone

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Can you see what it is yet

Most of the spitzensparken kit in the loft ebayed last year - including two Speccys (and associated Alphacom and Zx printers, Interface 1 and 2, Microdrive, DKtronics keyboard), 1 QL with working microdrives, 1 Psion Series 3, and IBM PC XT, a portable valve radio and a portable imperial typewriter (ok pushing the defn with that last one)

The Atari ST didn't sell, happily.

Two working valve radios remain (including one with the Radio Rentals logo from when they used to rent out their own brand radios) and so does, joy of joys, a fully working ...

... Rolf Harris Stylophone :O)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can you see what it is yet

Those radios would sell for a fortune here in the States, at least to the antique radio crowd. Especially since they were originally rental units, and they have the logos on them still.

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Re: Can you see what it is yet

>> Rolf Harris Stylophone

Did you also have the 7in EPs with Rolf telling you how to play along to songs, with full orchestral backing, such as "It had to be you"?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Can you see what it is yet

Geez, I found one of those at my local car boot sale a couple of weeks ago complete with a Rolf 7". Reckon I could have had for a couple of quid as it was near packing up time.

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Happy

It may be scrap, but it's got memories associated with it!

I can't claim anything really old, but a few examples from my hoard:

An Anderson-Jacobson AJ832 30cps daisy-wheel terminal (printer and keyboard) complete with pedestal on castors, bought by my wife in the late '70s for data-entry, retired in the late '80s and acquired in 1989 when they moved offices. Ideal for printing on fan-fold paper. Used since 1989? Never.

A K&N acoustic coupler - the sort that you put the telephone handset inside and closed the wooden lid. Maximum speed: 300bps.

Umpteen IBM token-ring ISA & MCA adaptors, a couple of hubs and a sackful of cables, all made redundant when I (reluctantly) switched to 100base-T Ethernet.

The 10" platter and heads from a DEC exchangeable disk pack of unknown age (it was scrap in 1980).

Half-a-dozen IBM PS/2 keyboards, over twenty years old but still our favourite keyboard - I'm typing on one now.

And an old favourite from the '70s and beyond: my paper-tape hand punch with integral guillotine - essential for splicing paper-tape for input to the 1904S. Ah, happy days......

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Re: It may be scrap, but it's got memories associated with it!

Have you asked the National Museum of Computing (at Bletchley park) if they want any of it? I'd have thought that the AJ832 might be the sole surviving specimen by now. I once had an acoustic coupler in a polished mahogony box, E-bayed it for twenty-some quid more than a decade ago. If it was a collectible then ....

Eventually our scrap will be worth a fortune ... to our great-great-grandchildren, if our grandchildren don't pile it in a skip when they get to sell the house that we don't need any longer.

My disk platter is at least 16 inches and hangs on my living-room wall. I've been asked "who is the artist"!

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Happy

You really might need it someday.

I remember years ago as a kid my dad had a prop shaft for a Bedford HA van hanging around in the corner of the shed.

I don't remember where he got it, probably from the Vauxhall Viva that somebody let him pilfer from on its way to the scrapper: a lot of the parts were the same I seem to remember.

When the rag and bone man came calling down the street (yes he had a horse and cart in them days) he sighed and handed it over. We wouldn't really ever need it.

Then about a fortnight later, one of the joints in the prop shaft went. Imagine the annoyance of having to pop down to the local Hardy Spicer shop for a new joint.

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The trick is to get other people to take it...

What I do is to find something that someone else actually wants. Then I bring it over to their place with a pile of other crap - and make them promise that they won't throw any of the junk out, and will instead pass it along to someone else if they don't want it - Presto - it's now someone else's problem. And if they throw it out, they're the ones who have to feel guilty for breaking the no-trash promise

My cardboard bins of 50-year old microswitches (well older than I am - they have Bakelite cases!), parallel+serial printer networkifier and stack of 40GB PATA drives were still sitting in his living room last time I went there. I forget what it was that he actually wanted...

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Lofts and Altruistic non-hoarding

I rescued a sack of 1920's physics teaching aids from a skip outside my University and took it home. Brass and Bakelite stuff. Initial intention was E-bay, but soon discovered it wasn't old enough to collect.

I have thrown the sack into the furthest recess of my loft, with a letter explaining what the junk is, and that if it isn't 2170 yet, just leave it lying there hurting nobody, and some day after that date it'll make a future owner of the house very happy.

(Do you know how much lab junk from the 1850s is worth these days? Oh, for a time machine! )

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lofts and Altruistic non-hoarding

I think you're taking quite a risk with your loft strategy. It's only takes one of those people to consign that irreplaceable piece of future antiquity to a hole in the ground.

If you ever find you don't have room for it any more and want to make good on the idea of altruism may I suggest giving the Electric Museum in Dorset first refusal. ISTR they run lectures/demo sessions for groups of local school kids using all period equipment.

It's an interesting place to visit in it's own right as it's in a a nicely preserved Edwardian era sub-station, complete with cast iron walkways and superstructure and is choc full of the detritus being talked about here of every period right up to the early 90s.

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I have a selection of RAM sticks. It made sense to keep them at one point but having never ever used any of them ever (and on several occasions forgot I had them and bought new RAM sticks anyway!), I'm thinking about chucking them away.

Probably wont, though.

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IT Angle

Make a display

Line a deep-ish picture frame with velvet. Arrange all the RAM modules in aesthetic and/or chonological order and make labels for them. When you're happy with the result, glue them down and hang it on the wall.

Last time I made a display, it was of German hyper-inflation era stamps (none valuable) arranged by date on one axis and roughly by the log of their value on the other. Pfennigs (10^-2) to Milliarden (10^9) in two years. One glance and you know why the Germans really, really, really don't want to let the ECB print money for the Greeks.

I've got fifteen old stopwatches made in the 1950s that will be my next project when I have an idle Sunday. (No glue for them. Little velvet compartments. They still work! One goes in 20ths of a second, 10 seconds per 360 degrees. Possibly the first casualties of the digital revolution? )

I quite like the idea of doing a display frame of Motherboards, but I don't have a big enough frame or wall. Pretty things, though, and there are definite fashion trends to be noted as well as the evolving technology.

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Boffin

Sorry Mr Dabbs but

you sound perfectly normal to me

but since this is about old IT crap people have lurking about "just in case"...

Forgive me Father for I have sinned by collecting old crap instead of dumping it

To wit in my front bedroom i have

1 MTX512 computer

1 Atari ST computer

2 * 8 meg RAM sticks

1 P133 CPU.

2 CD rom drives (non working)

1 DVD drive (non working)

2 Floppy drives (non working)

Assorted cables for IDE drives

Assorted driver discs for various bits of PC kit

1 Athlon1 1000 PC with 4 HDD mounted in it(my data server)

1 Athlon 4200 dual core PC (the develpement box)

1 Intel I7 8 core PC (this one)

1 epson ink jet printer

In the back room I also have

1 ZX81

1 P200 PC with a dead power supply and no HDD or RAM

1 dot matrix printer (working)

1 VCR of dubious ability

1 400 W per channel bass amp

2 20" woofer units

and 3 drawers full of assorted short lengths of wire and a soldering iron.

Boris

Hoarding.... I can hh.h.h handle it

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Re: Forgive me Father

I think the zx81, the atari st and the mtx512 are contributing significantly to your pension plan

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Hmmm...

Still have an old dot-matrix I got from a friend who got it from his dad's workplace. It works great can still get fresh carts for it and even have the paper to print on. Used to have a pile of 386, 486, 586 boards and cpus and mem. Actually used a 586 for years as a dedicated music system. Worked great.

Then one day simply decided to clean the stuff out. Still have a bunch of old SCSI kit and floppy tapes in a box ready to go to a friend. And I have atleast 6 spare systems(boards, mem, cpu, graphics, psu) sans cases ready to go. Have some removable 3.5" ide drive bays, a ton of old fans I pulled from various kit, used to have a few CRTs but 2 of them went to the shop when they offered a discount on LCDs. Have maybe 4 optical drives... one region unlocked DVD, the others dvdrws or just plain cdroms.

Also threw out a ton of ISA cards had some of the extended isa stuff as well as some MFM drives. Other than magnets and some other bits and piecese I eventually got rid of most stuff since. I still have a ton of crap though. Though nothing like the rest of the people here.

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We still run a very efficient beer can packaging machine that backs up data to floppy drive.What happens when we run out of floppies I dont know ERK!

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SOOOOOOO many cables!

I have draws and bags full of cables. So many USB cables, VGA etc. I have a complete Intel E7300 PC upstairs unused. Also various bits of hardware. Seagate 5GB spinning mini HDD. AGP 6600GT viddy, PCI viddy that only works on XP, Lots of IDE HDD's that are now too small to use. I even have a giant MFM drive sitting in a cupboard. Keyboards and mice galore. Soundcards. NIC's. Modems and routers. RAID controllers. PCI cards I forget what they actually do. Switching boxes. PII and mobo (with SD RAM). Mini CD player. The list goes on. I really should clear this crap out....

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Pint

Darn

Yeah well, stuff adds up… and up… the trick is to sell it in time.

Unless it has good memories attached, like my big box of Apple Newton Stuff, complete with two MP2100s, ultra fancy protective leather gear, more cables and adaptors than you can shake a stick at and software that came on PCMCIA. The cool thing is that I can just put batteries in the Newtons and they work like the day I left them, only the buffer that runs the clock will have run out.

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Anonymous Coward

Great call on the hard drive platters

I have a stack of them here used for the exact same purpose, largely reclaimed from dead SCSI drives. They acquire a lovely patina after a few goes through the dishwasher

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Boffin

WEEE Sequestration?

Is effectively what we hoarders are doing from where I'm sitting.

Surely we can get a grant from the EU or similar for this planet saving service we provide?

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I had this issue as well

But my solution, much to my chagrin, was to limit myself to one box small box for my computer detritus. I moved into an apartment with my girlfriend which has some limited storage options. Funny enough she of course did not get rid of nearly the amount of stuff I did. It would appear that I had held onto every computer, router, switch, and associated cable I had procured over the last decade. I drive a pickup truck and it filled the bed taking this stuff to the recycler sans hard drives of course. Now I am down to:

1 desktop

1 netbook

1 HP laptop (read: desktop replacement with built in battery backup)

1 spare body for said HP laptop

1 media PC

assorted android phones

1 very tightly packed rubbermaid container holding my cables, mounting hardware for the desktop, 10 pack of floppy disks, various backup CD-ROMs, and a spare router and ethernet cables.

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Silver badge

My excuse

My excuse is that I remember the last years of rationing and of sitting in the chairs at Selfridges while the assistant patted up a block of butter from the barrel.

In those days nothing was ever thrown away because you never knew if you would get another.

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A few bits

An Epson PX-8

A dead Apple MessagePad (original)

A Palm Tungsten T3

The Atari Portfolio I'm using to type this post.

(That last one was part truth, part lie)

Christ. A 48k Spectrum w/twin microdrives, a Sinclair QL, an Apple PowerBook 175. A Thomson TiVo. A Panasonic A1 VHS camera and full size portable VHS deck (all working). A Hoover Constellation (not strictly a computer).

Oh and a Cyrix MII 333GP processor which inexplicably lives in the middle drawer of our sideboard.

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Hey, man, WTF...

http://regmedia.co.uk/2012/10/17/sftw_3.jpg

...you want to tell me just when you sneaked into my studio and took a picture of my cable crate? It's got power cords and bricks from every computer I've ever owned going back to my Mac Plus, not to mention half a dozen SCSI cables from every SCSI device I've ever owned, several coiled lengths of modular phone extension cables, Cat 5 cables, speaker cables, RCA audio patch cables, four or five 75ohm TV antenna cables, and those little funky microphones I got with my old Mac IIsi, my old PowerMac 7500 and my old G3, plus a little plastic box containing about half a dozen different kinds of audio plug adapters.

This may sound silly, but if that old Walkman still works OK, I'd hang onto it. I had a Sony AM/FM handheld cassette recorder that just recently died at the rip old age of six, and it came in really handy when the power died during the more severe summer thunderstorms around here -- especially for checking the radio for weather news during the outage, and for pulling an old mixtape off the pile to listen to while waiting for the power to come back. I'm going to be hard-pressed to replace it, even though I can still find blank cassettes.

I still have my old G3 in my studio, still hooked up. I'd originally planned to donate it after I bought my G4, but decided I'd wait until the scanner died -- except that the scanner didn't get the memo, and continues to run. It was easy enough to find SCSI-to-USB adapter hardware, but when I went to Microtek's Web site to find updated OSX scanner drivers, guess which model they didn't have an OSX driver for. So, whenever I need to scan something, I fire up the G3, scan what I need to scan, drag it onto my main work machine over the studio net, and then shut it down.

I still have a VHS deck in the studio, in perfect working order. I have a fair-sized DVD collection, mostly stuff I've ripped from VHS, which I watch on the DVD drive in my iBook, but most of my stuff is still on VHS (my project of ripping the "keepers" seems eternally back-burnered).

I still have my dual-deck 3-head cassette deck, also still in perfect working order; my ongoing project of ripping old radio shows and other audio ephemera has gone much better.

I still have my FireWire Zip drive that I bought along with my G4, as I'm still able to find blank 750mb cartridges for it. I test it out every so often, and it's still working fine.

The old '72 Kenwood receiver amp which I bought from a friend of mine shortly after finishing college -- he wasn't the first owner, either -- is still in the basement after having been replaced a couple of years ago because it still works, goddammit. It stayed powered up for over thirty years from the time I bought it, and it was still working when I unhooked it for the last time.

On the upside, my old IIsi and old Mac Plus were donated long ago, though lately I'm wishing I held onto the old Plus. It was a late '86, back when the cases still had the signatures of the development team etched into the inside surface of the case. The old 20mb SCSI drive I used with the Plus and IIsi are also long gone, as is the old SyQuest drive, all working when I donated them. The only old gear I trashed was gear that had flat-out died -- the old SCSI CD burner, the old PowerMac 7500, the old Sony WMD6 "Walkman Pro" I used to tape concerts on.

Sure is nice to see I'm not the only one. Now, it you were hanging on to old gear that didn't work any more, I'd say you had a problem.

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Silver badge

Craigslist / Freecycle

OK, I'm coming in very late, but what's with "throw it away?"

Anything remotely of use that I don't need gets posted to either our local Freecycle e-mail list, or the Craigslist "Free" section. I've yet to find anything that won't disappear within an hour.

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Happy

They're great for sticking on the oil filter on your car to keep any metal shavings in there.

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Anonymous Coward

What are?

I'm guessing you were talking about magnets...

Doesn't help of course if you have a petrol engine with an aluminium block...

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Anonymous Coward

Anonymous today because I have a real hoarding problem. Yes, that bad, not just computers. Living alone and having a house contribute to it. I'm sure if I were still living with someone, it would not have developed.

So don't worry too much about that spare room, or the garage. If the rest of the house is okay, you're okay. And say a silent thanks for she who must be obeyed, if you have one.

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Happy

It happens ALL the time.

In my case it was an old automobile battery charger that I had in the garage. My wife had a fit of rage wanted to throw out the old rusty device (which it really was) because it was "old". Thankfully I prevailed and it was kept. Fast forward a couple of years when she left the door ajar on HER car, and couldn't start it. I immediately rise to the occasion and trot out my trusty battery charger and rescue the situation. Follow that by a BUNCH of gloating and the subject has not been brought up again.

Now my computer stuff is in the same area. Just this last weekend I picked up two perfectly working computer monitors form the neighbor across the street. One of which I'm using right now, replacing a nice bulky 20 inch CRT monitor (which also was picked for free about 3 years ago).

Life goes on!

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A house with two hoarders

We need a photo competition! - there, said it. All the junk written below you can safely ignore. Ah, you did, good.

---

Like our article writer, I acquire stupid amounts of computer related parts - alas, my fiancée is also a hoarder. She collects what can only be described as 'tat'. The discovery of freecycle, which I had hoped would assist in her dumping some of the junk she collects has only made matters worse.

I returned home recently, only to find she'd got three bin liners full of old comics delivered. To my amazement, there were a few hundred ancient 2000AD comics amongst this. Unfortunately, they were all dog-eared and non-sequential.

My own collection of electrical junk isn't nearly as bad as it could've been.

I moved back to Blightly seven years ago. Before I left, I sold / gave away / dumped 5 computers and the equivalent of 4 bin liners full of cables, switches, adapters, fans, PSU parts etc.

After 7 years back home, I've got 4 computers and 2 bin liners full of associated crap.

I also keep all the boxes of every tech item I purchase - for eBay purposes you understand!

How does it happen?

Well, the office had a clear out the other day and were dumping a lot of old kit. In my infinite wisdom, I decided I'd snag one of the old Dells (Intel core 2 duo), as the case was better than my upstairs rigs case.

It's still sitting in the corner of the office. Dell have non-standard cases - the motherboard sits the other way around = useless as a case. But I *may* just use it as erm, a media PC or a firewall - Yeah! - I mean, it's not as if my electrical bill isn't already sky high. Low powered, small form factor PC's - PAH! - I laugh in your face! (not)

I've considered eBaying a lot of this junk, but I've worked out that the effort of flinging it onto eBay and shipping it out vs. the cash I'd get back = less than minimum wage. I could spend the same amount of time earning 10x that building a website for someone.

See, this article has got me all fired up - We need a photo competition!

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God not the TIP

Should donate to computer museum at bletchly park

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Anonymous Coward

What the hell

Does one do with a box containing about 50 floppy drives, including some 5 1/4" ones.

Weighs a ton, some of those drives have enormous 0.17 deg/step motors.

And, yes I also have dead BBC micros, old antique boards which last saw electricity in 1992, and enough cables to probably circle the Moon half a dozen times.

Also add to that the flat panels kept "just in case"where the power boards are cooked, so far only one has ever actually fit another monitor with a cracked screen.

AC

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Silver badge

Re: What the hell

>Does one do with a box containing about 50 floppy drives, including some 5 1/4" ones.

Label them "Top Secret" and leave them in a bar in Soho

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Happy

Loft

I spent last weekend re-arranging the 50 BBC Micros and masters I have in the loft. I just can't help it, if I see one at the tip I've got to liberate it, my head thinks "hey that's £300-400 worth there".... d'oh!

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Windows

I'm 62 years old, you know...

...and I've spent all my life in computing.

I have a garage, loft and 22ft garden shed full of old computing equipment. The older stuff is all ICL mainframe stuff - 1900s and 2900s. An old electronic punch card system. Early CP/M machines, Amigas, Beebs and a full run of IBMs and clones. Wiring nests measured in cubic yards. I have some 8086 laptops (one with a 10Mb hard drive!), as well as several early text processors. Large numbers of Winchersters. Not too many 8" floppies, but a lot of 5.25" and hundreds of 3.5".

Looking at ebay, I thought that everyone had this.

Icon not necessarily for Windows, but more for the age....

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Silver badge

House Yoga

If you can get from one side of the room to the other without long steps, careful balance and stretches you're not really hoarding.

I have a Dowty Mayze 96 modem here, sort of mental anchor.

When I think of the design, planning, manufacture and probable self congratulatory smile of the engineers when they first tested this 9600bps beast it's quite grounding.

Thanks for the item and comments people (dabs eye).

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Anonymous Coward

Signs of great portent

I think I knew it had all gone too far when, in the course of a minor reorganisation, I found I had more new, unused SCSI cards than I had pairs of socks. And I have a lot of socks.

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