Clearing out some junk: computing paraphernalia of yesteryear

My office had become ridiculously messy. I’ve accumulated a lot of computer-related junk over the years — stuff that was once useful, but which time has passed by, like my collection of ethernet cables. (Who uses wired Internet anymore? It’s so last decade.) Making it worse, we have friends who come and stay every year, sleeping in the office, and one of them is a professional declutterer. So far, she’s politely held her own counsel as the room gets more and more cluttered each year, but that dam will break eventually. So today, I am throwing out this stuff:

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(Actually, there’s more — I took this photo before I’d finished making today’s pile.)

Leaving aside the stack of used toner cartridges at the back, what takes pride of place is my historic stack of non-functional IBM ThinkPad laptops from the 1990s and early 2000s: two 600Es, two T23s, and a T42:

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Also on the Pile Of Discarded ThinkPads are a spare battery, two external floppy drives that used a proprietary ThinkPad-only connector, a spare disk in an UltraBay adaptor, and a small plastic bag containing a pair of replacement nipples for the TrackPoint (the mouse-like device in the middle of the ThinkPad keyboard):

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Out on the right is a stack of old printed documents that I don’t need, if I ever did — such as, for some reason, a print-out of Brian Kernighan’s user manual PIC — A Graphics Language for Typesetting. (I’m keeping my copy of Why Pascal is Not My Favorite Programming Language, though, because it’s a signed copy sent me by the great man himself.)

Also of interest in the stack of discarded printouts is this gem, The Java Language Environment: A White Paper:

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Which is notable largely for its date — 1995:

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Evidently I was well ahead of the curve in the adoption of Java, though I subsequently lost interest before ultimately coming to cordially detest it.

The introduction begins with a nice little bit of hubris: “The next stage of the known, or a completely new paradigm?” Neither, actually, just a byte-coded C++ with the nastier edges filed off.

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What else is in my collection? No fewer than four PCMCIA cards (remember them?) for wireless networking, plus another one for wired ethernet:

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Boy, I’m glad those days are gone. Constantly recompiling the Linux kernel in the hope of landing on the correct mystical combination of options that would allow the wireless card to work. (Though even that was better than the older days of constantly recompiling the Linux kernel in the hope of landing on the correct mystical combination of options that would allow the built in modem to work by means of a bit of opaque Windows object code running under an emulator.)

There’s more in the to-be-junked pile, including a power supply that I kept for heaven knows what reason, several wired mice, and a complete set of Windows 95 installation floppies.

Mind you, I’ve hardly touched the surface as yet. In have a whole corner of the office that’s several boxes deep in broken joysticks, modems and RS-232 breakout boxes:

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It’ll all have to go.


6 responses to “Clearing out some junk: computing paraphernalia of yesteryear

  1. Hmm. Erm, yes, I’ve just been through a similar thing myself when trying to find some old cables yesterday. Well, when I say “been through a similar thing”, obviously I mean “been through a similar mountain of junk”: the decluttering element didn’t quite happen, though it’s something that does need to happen very badly. I’m not even sure what to do with most of the random electronics I have lying around, which is mostly obsolete and in random states of brokenness.

    I admit I’ve resurrected an old VaxStation because, er, y’know. And fortunately I haven’t thrown away my ancient network hubs so I now have a handy way of connecting its prehistoric thin ethernet to my home network. Which is still wired of course, since the alternative wireless version obviously works by means of witchcraft. Now if only I could find the thin-net terminators: they must be in the aforementioned mountain of junk somewhere…

  2. I can’t think where you get your hoarding tendency from.

  3. The irony is, literally the day before I did that clearout, I found myself unexpectedly in need of an SDHC card, and found what I needed in one of my many piles of junk. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is.

  4. Pingback: Finally dumping the obsolete technology | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  5. Who uses wired Ethernet anymore? Well, given that it’s still somewhere between seven and seventy times faster than WiFi, that spontaneous disconnection is almost unheard of, that it never gets interference from your neighbours’ wifi or from your neighbours’ microwave slowing it to an absolute crawl with >10s latency… I use it for everything other than unimportant frippery (i.e. things like home cinemas in rooms that I don’t want to run cables into).

    In practice this means that one small corner of my house is wired, with the desktop, the grunty work server, and the ADSL and networking gear. The rest is all wireless :)

  6. Pingback: Throwing out more stuff — a continuing saga | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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