Old Horses for the Glue Factory

The depackratification continues. I’ve got a small testing lab here in my office, but the KVM only holds four machines at a time, so when I get a new box, often one gets shunted off to the storeroom or closet. Just last year, I took a stack of them to the local computer shop for recycling, but as I get around to cleaning things out, I’ve still got a couple of old PCs to go and one special guest star from the store room going to the garage sale.

Some old machines departing

On the top, we have a fifty- or sixty-year-old electric typewriter, a behemoth that anchored some secretary’s desk back in the day. I bought it at a garage sale simply because I thought, maybe, someday it would be cool to have a piece of history like that sitting on a desktop. Maybe I thought I’d type into it instead of scanning forms and then typing into them on the computer (which is what I’ve done instead). Maybe I thought it would be a collector’s item worth putting onto Ebay (not to my knowledge). Since I ended up buying a house and not a museum, I’ll send it to the garage sale or pick-up donation instead.

The computer on the right you’ve heard about; that was the Monarch Systems dual processor machine I had assembled to power my QA business when I first struck out on my own in 2004. It lasted quite some time. I don’t remember if that’s the one whose D drive failed in 2007 or 2008 and led me to realize how lackadaisical my backup procedures had been until then and, relatedly, how little I’d done worth backing up in the gap between the last backup and the drive failure. I’m trying to do better at both these days.

In the middle, why, we have a tale. That, my friends, is an old $40,000 server, an ALR Revolution from back in the day. In the early or middle 90s, it was quite the thing, with dual Intel 100MHz processors and a bunch of SCSI hard drives. Sometime in 2001-2003, my office mate at the time pulled it from the dumpster when the startup on a floor below us failed and pitched stuff. He knew the type of man I was, and he thought I could make some use of it. So I put a couple of IDE drives in it, started the installation of Windows NT Workstation on it (how did I have an install disk and license for that? I don’t even know). I’d hoped to make it a file server stuffed with thin-band SCSI drive for my home based business. Even in those pre-child days, when I had lots of free time, I didn’t get far with that plan, mostly because even then the thin-band SCSI hard drives were out-of-date but expensive as companies bought them up to replace the parts in still-working horses like this one. So I moved it twice and took up a lot of space under my desk with it for a decade to no real end. I’ll send it to the glue factory this time. How far did I get on it? As part of the decommissioning, I opened the CD drive in it and took out the aforementioned Windows NT Workstation install disk which has been safely tucked in there for almost 10 years.

To the right is the again aforementioned PC I built for my aunt back in the olden days. I think it had Windows 98 SE on it when I first built it, later upgraded to Windows XP, which worked very, very slowly on it. For a while, it served as my platform for running Windows Internet Explorer 6 on it for testing purposes, safely not turned on to avoid any tricky or sneaky automatic updates when I wasn’t looking. But I have a faster machine now with it, and this old beast is ready for retirement.

As part of the decommissioning process, I make sure to remove all the hard drives for destruction, pop open the optical drives one last time to make sure I’m not sending along a free install disk or important “playing” disk for some game I’ve forgotten, and I remove the processors for repurposing as refrigerator magnets. Then, I’ll run them oft to the computer recycling shop, allowing them to pick apart the bones for memory and whatever other components they might need for repairing old beasts like this.

So I’ve got just a little more room in my closet, a bit more space under my desk, and a shelf in the storeroom awaiting new stowage. In the office, I think I’ll just leave the space a little open so my office looks better, and perhaps as shelter for if the bookshelves collapse and send an avalanche of books cascading to the floor. Although the desk itself is only more expensive particle board, not necessarily better quality particle board. So maybe I’d better not hope for its refuge.

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