back to article Forget value-added broker jokes: Could YOU shift nuclear plant scrap?

Why do brokers exist? All we ever do is just sit around and talk to people, so what value do we add to the economy? Or what value do “asset managers” like the late Howard Strowman add? And will the existence of such be a permanent feature of the tech distribution landscape? Regular readers will know that I spent the 1990s …


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  2. Dave Bell

    In some ways, that's simple and obvious, but the stories, such as the Zirconium Alloy, sets off sparks in that part of my brain that writes fiction.


  3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    All well and good, but what about obsolete components?

    Sure brokers will supply them, but I want just one and have to buy 20. So that's another 19 people that might have to go without, because I have no way of putting them back in the pool... at any price!

    1. pixl97

      >I have no way of putting them back in the pool... at any price!

      If someone wants them, there will be a price for them. If no one wants them but you, the price is determined by how long the person that has them wants to sit on them vs how much you are willing to pay.

      If someone wants them, but not 19/20 of them, ebay, or whatever industry related site them off. May take a while though.

    2. Neil Woolford

      Interpersonal skills...

      Explain pleasantly that it is for your prized vintage Rogers Ravernsbourne amp, and a free 'sample' may well be forthcoming... Worked for me.

    3. BigFire


      If it's economical to break down the component, it'll be done. Otherwise, it'll be dispose of.

  4. Rob Willett
    Thumb Up

    I enjoyed it...

    No idea why a poster thought it was dull, I thought it informative and entertaining.

    A side of the business I know (and knew) nothing about, I'm not sure I know much more now, but the next time I'm off loading a whole heap of older stuff, I'll be a lot more demanding about how much to ask for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I enjoyed it...

      Indeed, excellent article and a good read.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The Morgans Flyer

    The lovely warm feelings of looking through the window on TCR.

    The almost Dickensian scene of little waifs of programmers with their noses pressed to the snow covered panes as they spied out 386s, bizarre monitors and wonderful tape drives

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Reminds me of the time

    Not long after the Soviet Union collapsed and DEC opened up in Moscow. Suddenly all these 'unknown' PDP's and VAXen systems appeared. For a while DEC recycled a lot of old kit (especially PDP/11-70's) to the cash strapped institues just to keep their old systems running.

    Going into some of these places was a real education. They were doing some really cool things with some really old kit.

  7. Robert Sneddon

    The Triangle Trade is one way brokers can turn dirt into dosh. Buy cheap gear in one place, trade it to another place for something that is in demand in the third location and use that to get lots of stuff there that's highly sought after in the place you started from. Do it the right way round and it's a very nice little money earner.

    Someone I know did this with collectible trading cards; he bought unpopular cards cheap in Britain, traded them (well, that's what they were made for after all) in Holland for different ones and then took the cream of the crop to the Czech Republic where he loaded up with cards that were for some reason not to the taste of the locals but were eagerly sought after back in Blighty. A few trips round the loop and he had enough money to make a small fortune by opening his own gaming shop (he started with a large fortune).

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      I thought the Triangle Trade was beads etc from Liverpool to Africa, slaves from Africa to the Caribbean, sugar from there back to Liverpool. I think you'll find it's illegal these days.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        I thought the Triangle Trade was [one specific and by no means special example of triangle trade]...

        Three people thought this bit of false pedantry was worth upvoting?

        There are any number of historical "Triangle Trades". Take grade-school history classes in the US and you'll likely be taught that "the" triangle trade was West Africa - SE USA - Caribbean, or some variant thereof. The OP was perfectly correct in referring to any three-market trade circuit, where goods from market X_i are traded in market X_(i+1) and profit is derived from the arbitrage between those two markets, as a "triangle trade".

        Some might quibble over the use of capitals and the definite article ("the Triangle Trade"), but it's at least as appropriate to treat the general economic structure as a proper noun as it is to do so with any of its historical examples.

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Sinclair PC? Never heard of that one, I'll have to do some research.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sinclair PC

      Article: "Strowman getting rid of the Sinclair PCs that Amstrad had inherited along with the firm."

      J.G.Harston: "Sinclair PC? Never heard of that one, I'll have to do some research."

      AFAICT this is a reference to the Sinclair QL, which was a PC (i.e. personal computer) in the general sense, but not an "IBM PC compatible".

      Interestingly, Amstrad themselves *did* launch a true IBM PC compatible under the "Sinclair" name after buying out the brand (*). It came in an Atari 520ST / Amiga 500 style all-in-one case, was apparently very underpowered, and was a total flop.

      (*) Amstrad didn't buy Sinclair Research itself, just the existing computer lines and the "Sinclair" brand.

  9. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    oh my god

    I forwarded straight to the comments, in hope that they would contain something of entertainment - unlike that article.

    wish you had a ZZZZZZZ icon for sleepy teims.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Rate this article"

    "wish you had a ZZZZZZZ icon for sleepy teims."

    There used to be a "rate this article" button till not very long ago, but In Line With The Company's Policy of Continuous Product and Service Improvement, and as dictated by standard corporate operating practice, anything which may potentially highlight inconvenient facts (eg not many people liked a particular article) must be suppressed.

  11. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    "Forget value-added broker jokes"

    I would, but I've never heard any. Is this a rich seam of humour that I'm missing out on?

  12. CN Hill

    Excellent article.

  13. davcefai
    Thumb Up

    Excellent article. I suppose how interesting one finds it depends on ones kind of work. Have you ever tried to find a buyer for one million obsolete bottles (the product failed) or wanted 4 RS232 cables for an HP95, 20 years down its lifetime?

    1. BigFire

      I'm pretty sure for low enough price, we can recycle RS232 cable to some other purpose other than its original purpose. It only have to make economical sense.

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