• Does an old personal computer become useless?

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    ISSUE 19.46 • 2022-11-14 HARDWARE By Ben Myers Come take a ride in my souped-up DeLorean for an adventure in the days before Windows. You see an old c
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    • #2497872

      Nice nostalgic topic and devices are never useless, a desktop/netbook/laptop can be repurposed even with an old Operating Systems (offline use only, makes a good data-sensitive device locker)
      Another option is to install a Linux distro to bring it back to life (hardware dependant of course)

      No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created IT- AE
      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2497876

      Great article. I still have a soft spot for the old stuff. I have some old hardware that I sometimes dig out as a hobby, including two Compaq 286 and 386 portables!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2497903

      Talk about a trip to the Jurassic Park of the Personal Computer world! That was just about the most amazing thing I’ve read in a long time. The fact that I used to be completely familiar with that stuff but now can hardly remember a thing about it is rather embarrassing though. I’d have to get out the manual to mess with “Windows for Workgroups 3.1” these days, much-less DOS (although that’s what I learned on). I don’t know what you charged those guys but I hope it was substantial; they would be hard-pressed to find anybody else who could cobble together all the stuff that you did and actually make it work! Oh, and thanks for all the “footnotes” as well, just in case some of us might (God forbid) ever have to do something similar sometime. I’m not sure I’d try to tackle such a job, even if the fee was substantial. The fact that a portion of the customer’s business depended on it was something of an incentive though. Bravo for you!

      7 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2497905

      Nice work.  Surprised the spring in 5.25″ drive still worked.  What got me is the chrysocome.net reference and RawWrite.  The site is my younger brothers, originally from when he was trying things, but RawWrite was one of the first tools he wrote.

      • #2497978

        My collection of relics has TWO 1.2MB 5.25″ floppy drives and a single 360KB one.  I tend to keep twos of the old stuff.  In case one fails, I have another to try.

        RAWWRITE and FLOREC definitely saved the day.  Though RAWWRITE was written originally for ancient versions of Windows, it runs perfectly well with Windows 10 and I hold out hope that it will be flawless some day with Windows 11, when I find myself running the latest on a daily basis.   I may never again see a project with recovery of data from floppy diskettes, but if I do, I am ready.


        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2497923

      Crikey – you must have a store the size of an Amazon warehouse to be able to keep as wide a range of old kit as  that. No doubt you also have a copy of the IBM machine language utility DEBE (Does Everything But Eat) in there somewhere.

      More seriously – great story and impressive result.

      Win 10 Pro x64 Group A

      • #2497972

        Thank you!  I do not have a monstrously large collection of old hardware, usually ones and twos of older stuff and a cardboard box with PATA/IDE drives.  Still, I sometimes stumble in the clutter.

    • #2497926

      This is probably a bit of a slant, but where did you buy that “to IDE” converter from?

      You see, there is another legacy hardware issue its relevant to..

      Vestel PVRs of about 2005 .. 2010 vintage had IDE drives. these are well worn now though the procedure to replace them is well documented.. I have a box of drives but they’re getting so old the risk of failure of a head by platter adhesion causation is significant and I never got to spinning them up to running temperature regularly… (basically if left parked for years the slight contact pressure can cause the media to deform such that spin up movement “flicks” the head causing damage as the carrier catches on the media – in the pre voice-coil days it could literally stick and rip the whole head off the armature if moisture / condensation in storage was an issue..)

      The problem has been the converters which manifest in Windows as a “SATA to IDE bridge” or similar won’t work on those devices as the “operating system” in them is so basic there is nothing it can do with new hardware. Basically the hardware needs to to the processing to achieve the conversion itself, and I never found anything which actually works.. in fact I only found one type to try..

      By the way the SSD aspect is currently useful as the chipset had a strange limit of 160Gb on the size of drive (even with the later model which had a SATA drive and newer chipset) which you can’t realise now – I haven’t seen a drive with size limits for some time.. and not that low on a SATA drive.

      • #2497979

        Thank you for your comments.

        I bought the mSATA to IDE 2.5″ 44-pin containers on eBay, two different sellers, both now out of stock.  Search for “44PIN MSATA To 2.5 Inch IDE D SSD” or something similar on eBay.  When looking for oddities, I find eBay a far better source than mainstream NewEgg and Amazon.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2497934

      Talk about a walk down memory lane. My 1st PC was back in 1983, an IBM with 2 5.25 floppy drives that I upgraded over time with Dell expansion for memory and various hard drives. When I put the 20mb drive in I had a friend chide me saying “What could you possibly need that big a drive for?” ROFL.. I’d forgotten all about the IRQ switches and memory settings needed. I’d gotten good with Config.sys and Autoexec.bat too. Anyhow I really enjoyed this article and it brought back many good (and bad 🙂 ) memories.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2497927

      Amazing detective work. I am a bit surprised you didn’t have problems with some of that ancient software running on a much faster (SSD vs spinning metal) disk; I have seen that cause a lot of crashses when running really, really old stuff (and 1987 qualifies). Thank you for your detailed story. Best, Carl

      • #2497986

        Thank you for your kind remarks.

        Boards that communicate with industrial gear often have timing issues with various types of hardware.  For example, there is a reliable go-to device in the industrial crowd for USB-to-serial.

        The application that drives the machine does almost no disk access once running, so the SSD has no effect on the timing.  I thought fleetingly about replacing the 100MHz Pentium with a twice as fast 200Mhz model or even the stunning 233MHz Pentium MMX, but I was put off by the possibility of timing errors.  Fortunately, none of these industrial boards appear have programmed timing loops, counting down to zero.  Well, I think so.

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    • #2497937

      Interesting article.. thanks!
      I also have a DOS computer still running. It dates back to 1992, has 4 MEGS memory, 80 MEG Hard Drive and the old IBM keyboard you describe in your article. I still run a DOS version of Quicken which still performs perfectly. That computer does not connect to the internet so I don’t have any virus issues. Quicken data is backed up by 1.44MB Floppy Disks. The disks and the drive are still working great. My current computer needs are served by a more modern computer.
      Thanks again for your article.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2497988

        Treat that DOS computer kindly and if you intend to use Quicken for the very long term, maybe consider replacing the hard drive with an SSD?  Cost of all the pieces was less than $50 for me, and then there is the assembly of all the pieces and the labor of FDISK, FORMAT and copying the DOS partition.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2497938

      Great read. Fun to read about the old terms. 30 years IBM field eng. Used the old 286 machines as support processors for CPU’s. I don’t think I’d remember DOS command any more. loved the pictures.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2497947

      Wonderful article.  Reading through the paragraph about creating CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT made me feel like I was right there with you.  Your comment “Man, this is old stuff!” was an echo of what I was thinking.  And the XT keyboard connector took me back to the best keyboard I ever owned that I acquired with my first 286 clone.  Then you took us back to the future by plugging a solid-state drive into an IDE interface.  Nice!


      Group "L": Linux Mint

      • #2497992

        You can still have a 101-key Model M of your very own to use, either with a reliable PS/2-USB converter cable or a modified version from ClickyKeyboards.  I won’t use any other.  My laptop keyboards drive me crazy, and I keep wondering whether I should pack a Model M to carry with my laptop.  This would certainly be a great conversation piece, if nothing else.

        • #2499540

          …The constant clickity-clackity sound would certainly drive people crazy!

          On my last job, they squeezed four of us into a small office. I had an IBM Model M keyboard, and I did a lot of typing. I think I drove everyone crazy!

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #2497954

      Enjoyed the article, brought back many memories.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2497955

      Soooo many questions. But first:  My 1st FT computer job in 1989 was at a manufacturing/distribution company with a Data General mini computer with 21 green screens for OLTP and 1 IBM PC that was rolled from department to department for their data processing needs.  I got good at PC’s and installed the companies 1st PC-at-every-desk and networked them with Windows For Workgroups.  I spent so many hours doing what you did in this article, although it was de facto at the time.  I can’t say how thoroughly I enjoyed this article.  I crossed over into programming slowly from the dark side <grin> over time.  Now as a problem solver I feel like I need to stress how your client with the big machine needs to upgrade to more current tech, but as you mentioned they are constrained (by what?! the Big Machine vendor?) by something so they can’t.

      What industry is this?
      What part do they manufacture with this Big Machine?  This feels like an opportunity for someone’s million dollar idea to get this Big Machine to interface with current tech.

      I have a couple big bins of computer hardware that still work that I can’t get myself to just toss into a landfill.  Thank you for the idea to advertise it on eBay.  I wonder the surprise of the eBay seller when you bid on their ancient item.  For the entertainment I received, I am willing to donate these bins to you Ben if you actually keep a warehouse of obsolete parts for jobs like this.  Or a suggestion on some place that I could donate this stuff to:  a non profit maybe?

      • #2498000

        Pete, I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

        I told everything I possibly could about the big machine run by the DOS computer without violating non-disclosure.  I am sure there are other DOS opportunities out there.  In fact, the same company has another DOS computer, unattached to any special gear, and, it, too, needs to become more robust with an SSD replacement.

        My client is constrained by the stratospheric cost of replacing the big machine.  The machine’s manufacturer went through a couple of acquisitions, and I am not sure if the current company is manufacturing this sort of gear any longer.  They may well have done a replacement system for the ISA-PCI-AGP motherboard, maybe with only PCI and PCI-E, but I do not know.  At some point, I’ll find out a little more about the history of this equipment from the engineer who knows its best.

        I am certainly curious as to what hardware you have in your bins, especially assuming you seem to be somewhere in New England as someone familiar with DG gear.  I worked for Honeywell for a long time when they thought they were competitive in the computer biz.  My last stop at Honeywell was in Massachusetts where I remain.  I can only keep so much hardware around.  Any boards, dead or alive, I do not need go to a ISO-9002 recycler every year, or more often when the pile gets too big.

        Based on this experience, I have to be on the lookout for a motherboard with 4 ISA slots, quite uncommon, in case the Tyan Trinity motherboard fails.  If I were in the shoes of the company president, I would want to have a complete and working standby system, right in the middle of the company’s revenue stream.

        • #2498033

          I’m in Minneapolis.  I have a MB with ISA slots in my horde.  It’s yours if you want it. oops, can’t attach or paste images.  I searched for @ben-myers on twitter but that handle didn’t come up.  My gmail is in my OP and reply header if you can get to that.


          • #2498129

            Generic boards with ISA slots I have.  FOUR ISA slots is what a second system would need to back up the first.  Four ISA slots are harder to find than a mere three.  Baby-AT or ATX?  It does not matter.  Picky, aren’t I?

            I’ve never tweeted and probably won’t.  280 characters is simply too constraining.  I show up on Facebook now and then.

            • #2498338

              I remember the first PC I built. It had a full-size AT motherboard with eight ISA slots and 16 SIMM slots (it accepted only the 1MB SIMMs). That thing was my pride and joy… a 386-33 with on-motherboard cache (32KB), a 330MB full-height Priam ESDI hard drive (originally 40MB MFM, the venerable Seagate ST251-1), a Soundblaster card (8 bit, one channel), two floppies (Teac 5.25 and 3.5), a Tseng ET4000 1MB video card (SVGA 1024×1068 256 color), a 2400 bps internal modem…

              Man, those were the days. The Adaptec ESDI controller had an onboard ROM to manage the disk, since it was invisible to the BIOS settings. I had to use the MS-DOS monitor to execute a -g c800:5 command to jump to the onboard ROM and set it up.

              All the cards had jumpers to set the base address and sometimes other things, including the “Super” IO card, which had a parallel port and two serials (both DB25 at the time, as there was no DB25 header in the set. I used an adapter to plug in my Logitech serial mouse). Motherboards in those days had only one port that was accessed from the outside of the case… the AT-style keyboard connector as shown in the article. Everything else had to plug into an ISA slot other than that.

              The 386-33 (Intel) didn’t have a fan. It just had a bare ceramic cover, like several generations of Intels to follow.

              I upgraded that PC to a 486-33, then 486-66 (the first one to need a heat sink), and then from there to a Shuttle motherboard (with the famed FX “Triton” chipset) and a Pentium 100. That was in 1996… by 2000, the Pentium 3 (stylized as Pentium-///) was available.

              The Pentium-3 was my first in the ATX format. I would have kept using that old full-tower case forever if I could have. I used that case exclusively from 1990 until then, more than ten years.

              Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
              XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/16GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
              Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11 for maintenance)

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    • #2497961

      I thought I was reading Chaos Manor. 🙂 Thank you.

      • #2497993

        I have 10x more chaos than Chaos Manor ever did.  Guaranteed.  I have a couple of XP projects awaiting me, too.  This provides a good balance versus Windows 10 and 11.

    • #2497982

      Your article brought up a ton of old memories. I used to do that stuff all the time!

      I used to have an original IBM PC with PC-DOS 5.0 and WordPerfect 4.1. I gave it away to a friend. Not sure where I would put it or what I would do with it, but I wish I had it back!

      I’m typing on an IBM Model M keyboard right now – best keyboard ever made. More on that in a minute.

      I’ve fixed more than one old computer with parts from my scrap pile!

      Did you set up any type of TRIM command for the SSD? What effect might that have if you didn’t?

      One way to bring an elderly computer into the modern world is to replicate it as a virtual machine. My pastor had an ancient Greek and Hebrew study program that he didn’t want to have to pay for again (to get a modern version of it), but it simply would not work with Windows 8.1 (what he had at the time), not even in compatibility mode. I got the program working by setting up a Windows 2000 virtual machine on his computer. It worked under Windows 2000.

      As for my IBM Model M keyboard, I have two of them — one on my work computer, and one on my personal computer. It was a sad day when IBM quit including these keyboards with new computers, and no one else started carrying the baton of decent keyboards.

      I got my two IBM Model M keyboards from my job – they were cleaning out the store room, and they were going to throw these keyboards away. I volunteered to “take them to the trash”.

      You can buy an original IBM keyboard here:
      These keyboards are completely refurbished and in like-new condition. A few years ago, they were in the $80 range, as I recall. The price has gone up considerably.

      A company called Unicomp now has the patent for this keyboard, and they are making and selling them.
      I bought a USB version of this keyboard from Unicomp many years ago, but it wasn’t a very good keyboard. The touch and feel of the keys was good, but as I recall, it wasn’t reliable. I suspected that it was because it was a USB keyboard, whereas when IBM made it, it was PS/2. If I needed a keyboard today, I would get their PS/2 version of the Model M.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2497995

        I did nothing with TRIM on the mSATA SSD, which is very lightly used, almost a read-only device, after the various sets of parameters for the big machine are set up.

        I bought my PS/2-USB converter cable from ClickyKeyboards.

        I bought a Unicomp keyboard, and all I can say is that it is a very poor imitation of the real Model M.  Cheapened.

        I have never bought a Model M with USB connector from ClickyKeyboards, but I am sure it would be excellent.

        I have a cardboard box full of Model M’s, not refurbished, but complete and in excellent condition.  I also have a very large ziploc bag full of keycaps for the Model M, salvaged from IBM 3270 keyboards, IBM’s inspiration for the Model M including the DIN5 connector.

        The big machine cannot be run under emulation because there are four ISA bus slots which cannot be emulated.

        • #2498185

          I bought a Unicomp keyboard, and all I can say is that it is a very poor imitation of the real Model M. Cheapened.

          Years ago I bought a USB version of the Model M from Unicomp. It was unreliable – keystrokes would not always result in characters showing on the screen. I attributed that to Unicomp not knowing the keyboard well enough to successfully convert it from PS/2 to USB.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #2497984

      I only stopped using my IBM Model M when I needed the Windows key more (Cherry MX Browns aren’t as good, but they are quieter in an office environment, moreso with rubber o-rings to stop them bottoming out).  These days, my favorite obsolete x86 hardware is ThinkPads; some of the best systems ever made.

      I got called out in 2016 for a desperate customer who explained the computer in their box-cutting/folding machine wasn’t working. Unsure we could help, I arrived, and opened the service cover on the side to find an ISA 80486DX2-66MHz motherboard, with 16MB of RAM in 30-pin SIMMS. The machine booted from a single DOS floppy (no storage) and loaded a simple program into RAM for the box measurements. But it wasn’t booting and displayed the lovely “ONBOARD_PARITY_ERROR SYSTEM HALTED” message.

      I was the oldest tech in the office and the only one who had seen vintage 1992-93 hardware. I procured some new 30-pin SIMMS, and got the system running for another two years before the mainboard started producing the same error whether the memory was good or not; I told them they were out of luck this time around.

      We are SysAdmins.
      We walk in the wiring closets no others will enter.
      We stand on the bridge, and no malware may pass.
      We engage in support, we do not retreat.
      We live for the LAN.
      We die for the LAN.

    • #2498021

      One small nitpick is that even though the computer was from 2001, it was already quite old tech already from 1995. So really the table is comparing 1995 technology to 2022 technology, so 27 years of progress. It does help date when the industrial control system was designed, as this model was designed about 6 years previous to being sold. DOS was still in use even in 2005 for theater lighting control systems, so I have seen this kind of thing myself with brand new control systems sold even later. Great article, and I learned something about floppy recovery.

      • #2498649

        True. I took poetic license with the speeds and capacities of old computers, because the computer I worked on was actually sold in 2001.  So my conceit was that a 100MHz Pentium was a processor from 2001, and ditto for the 8MB of memory and 40MB disk drive.  Clearly the manufacturer of the big machine and controller computer used the same model of motherboard for at least 5 years.

        The arrival of Windows 3.1, the first version to truly catch on, greatly expanded the horizons of memory management and drive capacity.

    • #2498026

      Your article was the MOST interesting article I’ve ever read on “Ask Woody” – and “Windows Secrets”. Using older gear is keeping the land fill clear of much unnecessary electronic waste!

      I had an IBM pre-1991 computer (Intel 286?) and also a working “home-built” Athlon-XP 2003 PC (that still ran circles around my Chromebook – model year 2018) until a Northern California wildfire wiped everything off the planet. I see that the current smartphone and tablet manufacturers  are catching on by making new equipment more serviceable by the end-user. Great idea!

      There was a small company in Chico, CA that recycled older PCs – and perhaps MACs, too – where I bought an older computer when my Athlon-XP faltered.

      Thank you Ben!

      • #2498204

        Thank you.  The computer is a tiny fraction of the total system that would have been torn down and recycled.

        I think that Apple and Microsoft are simply paying lip service in response to years of scathing comments about the difficulty of repairing their gear.  Ease of repair and durability begin in the design stage of a product. Both Apple with all its products and Microsoft with its Surface have placed a very high priority on aesthetics, size and weight during product design.  Repairability is somewhere below 4th place in their respective lists of design criteria.

        I do not repair Surfaces.  I have worked on a number of Macs: iMac, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.   No fun.  Lots of proprietary parts, sticky adhesives in place of screws (yes, you need to get new adhesive stuff), pentalobe screws.

        To compete with Apple, recent Windows laptops also have non-upgradable memory, and, like Apple, I expect to see SSD storage integrated into the motherboard, rather than a freestanding NVMe memory stick.  This means much higher prices for models with more storage or more memory, and one cannot do upgrades of ones own memory and storage.  If you want a computer to last a long time, do what you want to do and have the capacity needed for the long haul, due diligence of specs is required.  But both manufacturers and sellers do what they can to obfuscate the specs.

        4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2498134

      Memory is a funny thing. I haven’t thought about this era of technology for a long time. Every sentence set off a flurry of memories. I remember getting a system with a lot of add in cards working correctly. It’s part logic puzzle and part art. Congratulations on getting the computer up and running again and the big machine back in use. I’m glad you have kept that old knowledge and skills going! Thank you!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2498194

        “Memory is a funny thing”?  72-pin, 168-pin, yours or mine?  Maybe all of the above.

        I have to admit to having to relearn some of the DOS that got swept into the dustbin of my brain.  But enough knowledge was left so I could relearn.  Using the Windows command prompt helped.

    • #2498165

      Fascinating article.
      You’ve also helped the environment by reducing solid waste. If your client had to decommission the old one, perhaps they could have recycled some of it’s metal and gotten paid for scrap; yet much of it would have been disposed of by incineration and/or landfilling which stresses the planet.
      Way to go!

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2498196

        The real solid waste would have been scrapping the 25 foot machine to which the computer is attached.  A least a ton of metal and I do not know what else inside.

        I’m all for re-use, but it has its limits.  Some perfectly working computers are too limited to do much that is modern, so they get scrapped.  And it’s not really worth the time to get them running well again.  I’ve given away some not-so-modern laptops to people who want to repurpose them.

        That is the collateral damage of Windows operating system that continues to grow in size and in its profligate use of memory and storage.  Beyond the useful and often ancient spare parts I keep on hand, a lot of computers get torn down here and the boards taken to an ISO-9002 recycler, where they get appropriate treatment during recycling.


        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2498441

      Oh, my!  Couldn’t you have replaced the flaky motherboard?

      Finding something that fit the application would have been a difficult go; there were some proprietary ISA expansion boards and connectors. Also, due to the machine’s age, I just couldn’t make guarantees. With that in mind, and the fact that it was outside of my organization’s wheelhouse, we recommended they attempt to contact the original builder of the machine.

      We are SysAdmins.
      We walk in the wiring closets no others will enter.
      We stand on the bridge, and no malware may pass.
      We engage in support, we do not retreat.
      We live for the LAN.
      We die for the LAN.

    • #2498674

      WOW!!!  LOTS of memories got resurrected!!

      One other place where OLD computers still flourish is academia.  My brother-in-law did tech support work for a large university and had to keep a number of antiques running.  Somehow these machines were involved in grant-funded projects and, if the projects were not completed the grant money would have to be refunded.  No pressure there!  🙂

      • #2498747

        @MHCLV941  There could be some additional commentary on that subject, but I will demur for the moment. Let’s just say that it’s in “somebody’s” (special) interest to see that some “projects” are never fully brought to fruition, even over the course of decades, as long as the Government cornucopia remains open and dispensing funding…

        • #2498755

          @MHCLV941  There could be some additional commentary on that subject, but I will demur for the moment. Let’s just say that it’s in “somebody’s” (special) interest to see that some “projects” are never fully brought to fruition, even over the course of decades, as long as the Government cornucopia remains open and dispensing funding…

          It must really suck to have such a dim view of one’s fellow human beings.   You have absolutely no basis whatsoever to impune the motives as base as yours are.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2500962

        My last employer, one of the top 20 banks in the world, only bought low end junk, already obsolete PC’s, and kept them as long as possible despite the reduction in productivity.  They finally had to upgrade a bit when Win 7 support had ended.  But they had told head office that Win 10 had been fully rolled out before they even started to do so!

    • #2498745

      I really enjoyed reading your article and I am in awe of your knowledge and expertise.  It has been quite a while since I retired from keeping a small group of older systems functioning to run old DOS programs.  I learned a lot: seat-of-the-pants, forums, the magazines and gigantic books and made it all work for about 20 years.  No one else was interested but I found it fun.  Now neither the hands nor the brain could manage it all.  In spite of the difficulty and even though it is your work, it sounds like it is your joy as well.  Hope you keep lots of other old hardware out of the landfill for many years and get well paid for doing it.


      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2498942

        I have always taken great satisfaction from problem solving, both great and small, and not necessarily computers.  The bigger and more difficult the problem to solve, the greater the satisfaction, once solved, of course.  Some folks throw their hands in the air and give up.  It takes a lot for me to give up.

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        • #2499004

          I definitely agree with your attitude.  Fix it if you can and be stubborn about giving up.

          I also believe that if something is still good, work hard to find someone who can use it if you can’t.  This explains the rather bizarre collection of items in our garage that is constantly in ebb and flow.  I am getting to the age where I need to work much harder at getting the flow to go outward.  So the stack of good, but not currently being used (as out of date) computers, printers, monitors, scanners. cords and cables are mostly finding new homes.  Repurposed or recycled.  Somehow we are not at all bereft of plenty of useful ones old and new.  We have hobbies – many.  Retirement is grand!

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2499914

      Just need to comment so I can clear the follow up email tick.. you can’t just untick it and submit..

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2499927

        You don’t need to post to do that; just click Unsubscribe above the first post.

        Windows 11 Pro version 22H2 build 22621.2361 + Microsoft 365 + Edge

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2500961

      Behind me is a 2002 HP that was supposed to, with the help of a special video card, easily digitize analog video. Turned out to be useless, since it had no hardware support for such. Quite a scam at the time. But, the computer still runs, kind of, super slow under Win 7, no idea why it’s so slow except that I put in a hyperthreaded Pentium (with appropriate bios, etc. changes) and it never seemed to like it. Over time I think I did one HD upgrade, but when the PSU died, it was a true PITA to replace it since HP specified one that only it sold, and 99.99% of like PSU’s wouldn’t fit. Finally found one firm with one that did. But 20 years later, it is still alive. Has a floppy drive and DVD writer.

      Sitting next to it is an older Dell, which probably would boot, though I don’t remember if it still has Windows or an old Linux distro.

      When I built the mini tower I’m typing on, I selected a mobo that was far better than I needed then, added a true hardware digitizing card, very good PSU, large case, so so video card (long since replaced). Only major problem I had hardware wise – the front case fan wore out, and I went through all sorts of grief learning what to replace it with, and how to get the drive cage out of the way.

      I do actually keep an external floppy drive, also BD writers on hand. You never know!

      Very much enjoyed this article once I found it (my newsletters stopped coming weeks ago).

    • #2532233

      I have held on to my old hardware and software from the 80s through the 2000s. I think my main 386/33 I bought in August of 1991 is still running. It has been sitting on the desk for years and every few years I turn it on. The computer battery is a little block battery that was velcroed  to the PS. So now I have to put in the HD settings every time I turn it on. I have several 8086, 386, 486, and pent 1s and 2s and parts I have been holding on to for years trying to give myself permission to get rid of them somehow but always thought I would need them for repairs and such. Many of these complete running systems I never took the data off. Also back then I thought I would need them to keep playing doom2 against friends. Never had the room and chronically disorganized. One question I had was how do you find and organize the room for all these old parts and things you have saved over the years? Everyone I know has given me there old xp machines. It never occurred to me that the extreme temps  out in the shed could have maybe messed up some capacitors on the SHED computers. I guess there is a market for some of these parts now but would never have the time to try and sell online. I think I have over 12 unopened boxes of disks from Christmas past.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2532450

        One question I had was how do you find and organize the room for all these old parts and things you have saved over the years?

        I know how you feel, I started out with an IBM PS/1 that I bought late in 1993. I still have it and it still works fine.  I now have five old computers in my den/office/piano playing/TV/storage room, and a old IBM T40 Thinkpad laptop in the bedroom that I still use.

        Can’t safely store computer stuff in the detached garage or the “damp in the summer” basement.

        Being 20 something in the 70's was much more fun than being 70 something in the 20's.
    • #2535767

      Old computers generally last a long time if they’re given some TLC.  What puts an old computer on a back burner or in the closet is software that constantly gets more and more demanding, and then is made to not run on them or be updated.  Sigh. . .

      Being 20 something in the 70's was much more fun than being 70 something in the 20's.
    • #2535875

      How to keep an ancient Mac mini running

      Old Macs still have a lot to offer in terms of usage and functionality. Here’s how to keep your old Mac minis running like new.

      In this article we’ll take a look at refurbishing two of the earliest Mac mini models from Apple: The PowerPC G4/1.42 GHz model and the Intel-based Core Duo 1.66 GHz. Both machines are some of the earliest “polycarbonate” mini models Apple made.

      In fact, the 1.25GHz and the 1.42GHz models were both introduced on January 11th, 2005. The 1.42 GHz model was the second Mac mini ever made…

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