by Brian Dunning
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finally did it...after all these years, I actually physically
threw away eight old computers and untold obsolete boxed software
Before my email inbox fills with flames for throwing away the
hardware and not donating or recycling it, allow me to state my
defense. First, the reason I didn't donate it to a school. A Quadra
800 with blown SCSI and ADB and two Mac Pluses with dead monitors
are of even less value to a school than they are to me. It was
oppressive enough to keep them on hand in my closet and garage.
Most of these computers have moved four times with me to different
homes and have occupied an estimated 35 cubic feet of storage
space. Schools need their valuable space to store unused metal
The worst offender, an Apple Network Server 700, has never worked
or served either a network or a useful purpose. It was scavenged
for parts at least six years ago, weighs over 100 pounds and is
the size of a small refrigerator. Only one of the casters was
still present at last examination, and there are permanent scrapes
in the wood floors of at least two of my former residences. To
add insult to aggravation, I was the sucker of someone else who
finally made their move and got rid of it by dumping it on the
first person who would accept it. Why did I bend? I have no idea
to this day. Maybe I was enthralled at the prospect of being the
first to actually use AIX.
I never did test a Mac Plus as a boat anchor, despite repeated
oaths sworn that I would one day try this.
Other computers disposed of included a Centris 610 with no drives
or faceplate; an Apple IIGS with no keyboard, monitor, or mouse
and thus no way to use it; two Power Computing machines that wouldn't
run current software, crashed incessantly, and sucked; and last
of all, a Color Classic whose screen image filled a parallelogram
the size of a postage stamp in one corner of the screen (last
time I checked it in 1994).
If you can come up with a persuasive reason to donate any of
the above to a school, then flame away. I believe it would make
more sense to give the schools a wild ferret, a minor geologic
disaster, or responsibility for investigating presidential scandals.
Which brings us to the second alternative: recycling. True, much
of this equipment could have been usefully recycled, or so I saw
on television once several years ago but have never encountered
in the real world. Allegedly, there is a company in Silicon Valley
that takes obsolete or broken computer equipment and recycles
it, recovering those 256K SIMMs and beer can-sized capacitors
for use in Russian space station modules. Rather than launch that
debris into space to have it fall on my head three months later,
I concluded it would be simpler to throw it up on the dumpster.
I would love nothing better than to be enlightened and convinced
that there is a compelling reason to recycle Steve Wozniak's prototype
Apple IIGS. At least the landfill guys don't laugh at me when
I roll it into their facility.
Once the hardware was securely arranged in the dumpster, I packed
it all tight with 4.1 million floppy disks, from System Tools
6.0.1 to hundreds labeled "Important documents" or,
in most cases, unlabeled. Most of the rest provided 50 free hours
with the new AOL version 2.0. Once these arrive at the landfill,
the Earth's magnetic axis will probably shift about a half degree.
But that's the price of sparing thousands of Bangladeshis a death
by toxic fumes from Dupont's local disk melting facility.
The next layer I added to the dumpster was boxed software. This
included a historical tour of various ClarisWorks versions,
all still shrinkwrapped from the day they arrived new with each
of the aforementioned computers. It also included all the free
FileMaker boxes I got from attending Developer Conferences,
also still shrinkwrapped. Then there were a few boxes of various
applications that I'd been given to write reviews. There used
to be a lot more of these, but over the years, I'd scalped most
of them to friends for $20 each.
I then rejoiced in my newfound open space. It was like Julie
Andrews on a hilltop in Austria. Spare Porsche parts are already
starting to accumulate though; I may need the dumpster again soon.