Old computers hold more than digital memories

Every now and then, office closets must be cleared of stuff that either doesn’t work anymore or is close to achieving the status of artifact.

One recent attempt at this uncovered the following:

Dozens of old cassette tapes of conversations with farmers and ginners, and of long-ago speeches and field day talks. There was a box of color prints dating back to 1993, several crashed computers, at least five thoroughly overused cassette tape recorders, two outmoded phone systems, three old watches, one electric pencil sharpener, a rat’s nest of old cables and phone lines, a film camera, a roll of undeveloped film, a fax machine, an old keyboard, an electric typewriter, a dot matrix printer, a box of modems and hard drives and an unopened pack of golf balls.

Before new technology rendered these items useless, they were all (except for the golf balls) an integral part of the office function. For some reason, it’s hard to throw this old stuff away. So it languishes in the closet like a child’s discarded toy.

The old computers hold more than digital memory.

Like the vintage Macintosh Powerbook 145 laptop. According to the Apple folks, it was introduced on August 3, 1992 and was discontinued on June 7, 1993. It was the invention that allowed us ag editors to shift our workplace office to a spare bedroom. Its processing speed was tortoise-like. It had a black and white screen and a track-ball mouse that constantly had to be cleaned of lint. It did not know how to connect to the Internet and was pre-email.

I found the power cord and turned it on, expecting to be taken back to the moment I put it away some 18 years ago, but all it did was beep every eight seconds. I still don’t have the heart to throw it away.

In the corner of the closet, I found a Toshiba Satellite Pro 430CDT laptop introduced in 1997. It weighs 6.5 pounds. It survived the heat of my car trunk, much verbal abuse and the dreaded Millennium Bug. Apparently, these things are still being sold on e-Bay and are quite appreciated by the younger generation, one of whom referred to it as “like my Dad’s old computer.”

I uncovered two Macintosh desktop tower computers with 3.5 inch disk drives along with two huge, bulky monitors. I have fond memories of these old units, humming away night and day.

But just like the old relics that they replaced, they gave way to sleek, better-looking, upwardly-mobile laptop models that packed a lot of processing punch. You can take these new ones on out-of-town trips and run them through x-ray machines, and they just keep on ticking.

That is, until something new comes along, and once again, the shelves in this office closet will start to creak under the weight of obsolescence.

TAGS: Equipment
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