back to article El Reg seeks hoardiest reader for crap-stashtic honour

A couple of weeks back, Alistair Dabbs rang a few bells among Reg readers with his "Why can't I throw anything away?" lament - a harrowing tale of a man threatened both by a growing mountain of redundant tech and a wife determined to declutter chez Dabbs. Mountain of computer junk Right, where did I leave that ZX81 16kB RAM …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't enter this personally (all of my stashed kit is Absolutely Essential And Useful and in no way describable as crap), but if I could tell you what's in our data centre your eyes might widen a little. Are you sure that Data General kit is still in revenue service? It is? Ok, keep it powered up.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Too late...

    ...I whittled all my crap down to the absolute essentials* when I emigrated. Overseas shipping costs tend to concentrate the mind somewhat.

    *The books, LPs, CDs, cassettes, VHS and V2000** tapes still weighed in at over half a tonne, IIRC.

    **Don't ask.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Don't ask

      For me, it's VHS and Betamax. There's VHS as it is what's in use now, and Beta 'cos that worked better, before.

    2. CABVolunteer

      Re: Too late...

      V2000? Ah, you're using the modern technology - I've only got a (working) Philips N1700 video recorder from 1979 with a stack of VCR150 tapes carrying such programmes as Michael Woods' original "In Search of ..'"series on the Anglo-Saxons (you know, the one about Eric Bloodaxe).

      And, no, I'm not submitting any photos of my collection - someone might recognise and break in to steal one of the "valuable IT antiques" such as the original dBaseII (autographed by Mr Ashton himself), Multimate-II, Crosstalk or Displaywrite4 boxed sets. Oops, I shouldn't I have said that, should I!

  3. Graham Wilson

    I know I've won, but...

    I know I've won by a bountiful margin but embarrassment stops me from collecting what is dutifully mine.

    Like a conscription/draft lottery, winning is to be absolutely avoided at all costs. ;-)

  4. Paul Webb

    Personally, I find "three spare pairs of underpants and socks" rather excessive.

    And mother is still here, in the cellar.

  5. auburnman

    I seem to recall

    that Douglas Adam's book The meaning of Liff had a word for gubbins that becomes essential as soon as you turf it out. Can't remember what the word was though.

    1. EddieD

      Re: I seem to recall

      Damn, I turfed out my copy of "Meaning of Liff" a couple of weeks back, otherwise, I'd tell you...

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: I seem to recall

        > I turfed out my ...

        Well, that's you disqualified as a hoader then.

        1. Magnus_Pym

          Re: I seem to recall

          Nottage is the word you are looking for.

          1. Sim

            Re: I seem to recall

            Kipple is a word coined by the remarkable science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It refers to the sinister type of rubbish which simply builds up without any human intervention. Eventually, one day, the entire world will have moved to a state of kipplization.

            From Phil Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

            First Law of Kipple, "Kipple drives out nonkipple."

      2. JibberJabberBadger

        Re: I seem to recall

        You mean it is possible to throw out a book? I thought books stayed with you until the day you die (or you stupidly let a mate borrow one) at which point they are donated to Oxfam.

  6. Efros

    All gone

    30 years of accumulated, irreplaceable, priceless "stuff" had to be disposed of when I emigrated some 12 years ago. Gone never to be seen again are the 3" floppy drives, iomega zip drives, 8" floppies and their drives, 10MB hard disk and its associated 4 user Z80 system... sigh I can't go on. My current accumulation pales into insignificance when compared to the glory that was a 50 lb Tandy daisywheel printer that could shake the living room when going at full pelt.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    National Geographic?

    National Geographic's a bit high brow isn't it? 300 back issues of Elektor (about two decades' worth, but not the two most recent decades) stacked right in front the door to the manpit would be closer to the mark. No, I don't think I'll be sending in a photo. All this awesome stuff is mine. :-)

  8. Tank boy
    Black Helicopters


    I wish I could smuggle a camera into my stepfather's Compound, it's a veritable graveyard for old electronics. Sadly, he's convinced that the AUTHORITIES would gladly snatch up his stash were they to find out about the treasures hidden within the perimeter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame.

      I think he's very wise. Do you know if he's made any provisions yet for it post-mortem? Personally, I have lined up a small plot in a remote field for a long barrow. It's cost a pretty penny and I'm not wholly sure I trust the farmer is not going to accidentally plough me and my valuable stuff over by accident, but I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed for the afterlife.

  9. dajames

    Call that a prize?

    The prize for the winner will be a copy of No More Clutter by Sue Kay, described as "the ultimate guide to liberating ourselves from the tyranny of clutter".

    A prize that is likely to appeal only to those whose idea of clutter is the iPad 2 that they haven't yet managed to eBay after buying the "new" iPad. I predict a lot of comments, but few entrants of any calibre!

    I have a small circuit board ($DEITY knows what it is or what it did) from the 1906A that was scrapped while I was a student (a tray of them was offered to users as "souvenirs") ... I'm sure I had the intention of setting it in clear polyester resin and using it as a "paperweight", but that was before I discovered that when you have enough paper it stays put of its own accord (and if that doesn't work you can stick a cardboard box full of old, broken 5.25" floppy drives on top of it).

  10. spiny norman

    Audio cassette formats

    All this talk of Betamax and V2000 reminds me in the late 1960s I had a Grundig audio cassette recorder that used a different format from the compact cassettes that became popular. The cassettes were quite a bit bigger and were very hard to source, even at the time. It would be a stupendous piece of clutter if I still had it, but sadly it fell victim to a clear out circa 1995, along with the few cassettes I managed to accumulate and their priceless recordings of Top Gear.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Audio cassette formats

      In my pile of Exotic Audio Gear is a Saba portable tape recorder (about the size of a two years' stack of Elektors) that takes some kind of cassette, but I've found it can also take 8cm reels.

      Sony Elcaset and the Grundig format are not present, but DAT and MiniDisc (portable and shelf models) are, as well as several reel-to-reel tapedecks. My favourite WalkMan has gone missing, but on the other hand there's a Telefunken cassette deck with HighCom noise reduction, a separate Nakamichi HighCom unit and a Telefunken record player with HighCom built in.

      I wasn't deep into video (never reached more than about 20 tapes, first with Betamax, then VHS), but I do have a Telefunken video record player, albeit sans media until now.

    2. Toothpick

      Re: Audio cassette formats

      I still have the Grundig cassette recorder "somewhere" in the garage. Along with a Tandy TRS80 II, its expansion and a storage system called Aculab floppy tape

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just two decades of Elektor?

    I've got every English issue sitting in a box in my loft. I starting subscribing when it was only available to those in the trade (I worked part-time as a student, repairing anything electrical or electronic - from TVs to toasters); ISTR I started at issue 7 and ordered the back-issues. I confess a lot of the modern stuff passes me by but I just can't get around to cancelling my subscription. Anyone want to buy the lot and pick up the responsibility for maintaining the archive???

    And, yes, I too have a ZX81 rampack somewhere in the loft.

    My wife is threatening to stuff all my junk in my coffin when I shuffle off this mortal coil - but it will need a large box and a crane to get us all planted six feet down...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just two decades of Elektor?

      No the more relevant stuff is inside the manpit, together with the odd National Geographic that snuck in somehow. Unfortunately the late 90's has a few holes in an otherwise continuous progression due to an ill-advised Ebay attempt a few years back. I think I gave away the early 70's on Freecycle :-/

  12. Purlieu


    I have a chess set with several of the pawns missing, it plays ok you just start off with less pawns, player can choose where to put them. Perhaps I should visit a pawn shop.

  13. Allicorn

    Been skippin'

    Just moved house after 17 years and skipped so much old technocrap. CRTs, EISA mobos, SCSI cards the size of cricket bats - you know the kind of stuff I'm sure. Of course, I /did/ hang on to my ZX81, several Speccies and a QL... I mean... I /need/ them... or I will sooner or later... probably.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: Been skippin'

      Well yes, I've also moved house about a year ago, but that hasn't decreased the size of my Triassic, Jura and Pleistocene computer parts pile by any measurable amount. It 's about a Europallet and a half, stacked shoulder-high (12.82 linguini) with crates full of cables, controllers, harddisks (the one ESDI disk, 5.25" full height, I still have has been opened to show the stack of platters, and the ST412 has disappeared), tapedrives in several formats, floppy drives, Zip, Jaz, Syquest, Bernouilly, you name it. And that's not including the actual systems, such as a couple of Beebs, Atoms, an Electron and an Archimedes, a Motorola Powerstack, several SGIs, Alphaservers, VAXes, some 68k and PPC Apples, and a few Sparcstations.

      Fortunately my girlfriend fully recognises the "Disposal-Provided Acute Necessity Syndrome", having been brought up, computer-wise, on hand-me-downs supplemented by the odd computer-fair catch, as well as having a couple of motorcycles *), the youngest of which is reaching 30. For which spare parts tend to come with most of another motorcycle attached, and it'd be a pity to throw all those bits you don't immediately need away, surely?

      *) I do as well, although mine are only between 20 and 30 years old.

  14. tim_lovegrove

    Ah, Zip disks

    Just this morning we unearthed a pair of mint-in-box Dell internal Zip drives for a Latitude C810 notebook, complete with complimentary 250mb Zip disk. More worryingly though, the notebooks are actually still occasionally used. We also have an Iomega Rev drive somewhere, $deity knows where.

  15. David Given
    Thumb Up


    I'm a lot better than I used to be. I have, for example, just managed to get of an old Hercules monitor. (Beautiful long-persistence phosphor for a rock steady image. But it smelt funny when turned on and it needed dedicated ISA interface card.) I've even managed to get rid of some books.

    But I still can't bear to part with the obscure and totally useless 386 greyscale tablet which runs DOS, or the gorgeous IBM PC110 palmtop computer; I wish I could do something useful with it, but with a 486 and 4MB of RAM I'm stuck with a 10-yo copy of Slackware. Also, it has no connectivity...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh so familiar

    I'm with Mrs Dabbs on this as our house is full of techno stuff, as is the garage and the loft. What is it with techies never getting shot of stuff? The box upon box of cables and cards, more "dead" language books than the Bodleian library, piles of kit everywhere you look, the unused half height 19" rack complete with UPS. I wouldn't mind if it was confined to one place but its everywhere!

    To be fair, he does point out that I have rather a lot of shoes and handbags around the place, but as least those are used!

    Anon - hoping he won't read this and recognise me

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      Re: oh so familiar

      Is that you, Sue?

      I'm pleased to say I've just dug out a 10 year old, 2 generations superseded, Unix software set of CDs - because I need it to save the day at work. I'll buy you a fourth wardrobe with the bonus I get ;-)

  17. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Not so simple

    All of my stashed kit is, umm, stashed.

    The significant other insists on me making my stuff invisible. She appears to have a pathological fear of anything that is either plugged into the mains or powered by batteries, so if it's not in use, it's in boxes in various hidey-holes around the house, and thus cannot be easily photographed as a whole. I've not seen much of it myself in the last 10 years.

    Of course the same does not apply to her huge number of half-finished craft projects, her computer (only tolerated because of her genealogy work, along with it's A3 printer), her collection of pulp women's fiction (yes, I do mean Mills and Boon), and her menagerie of greater and lesser parrots (including 2 cockatoos and 2 other full sized parrots). I can provide plenty of photo's of those!

    On the subject of throwing stuff away, when I picked up the Amstrad NC100 from a car boot, I found that I could have used the 4MB memory card I had thrown out earlier that month!

  18. Craig 12

    A very tough competition for married hoarders to enter, as we have to become experts at hoarding and stashing!

    1. tfewster Silver badge

      hidden stashes

      Yeah, it would take me days to assemble a pile of stuff to take a photo, and SWM(S)BO would take the opportunity to make me justify every item once it's in view. On the other hand, she promised to sort out her book/clothes/shoes while she was on half-term holiday but didn't, so I have the moral high ground at the moment.

  19. Andy 70

    never let any one stash for you!

    have your own stash. and keep it.

    at my cost, i sold at the time under much duress of convincing from family, a very expensive and custom video editing system. but i was good. i did my dutifull backups onto its DDS3 (3 no less!) scsi tape reassured in the knowledge that i would get back on my feet and i would own such a beast again. one restore and i would be golden. parents also had stuff in store, and offered to store my stuff which included generic nicknacks, about 1000 floppy disks, and the golden, precious tapes.

    i now have enough of such a system back in operation, i have salvaged a known working DDS3 drive. when i asked about the stuff they had in store, i was told.

    "oh we've got it all back, it was costing too much."

    "so what about my stuff?"

    "you've got it all."

    "a vic20, a reflecting telscope, and a stick on garfield?"


    "no hundereds of disks or small stack tapes, or anything else?"



    in that silence, the realisation that a section of my past life was consigned to history

  20. Pet Peeve

    Throw that crap out!

    Old crap is a drag on your life and space. If you haven't used it in 5 years, and you don't have it on display (and no, not PLAN to have it on display, HAVE it on display) pitch it, or MAYBE donate it if it is still functional.

    I have a couple ancient laptops that I keep around as a bridge to reading old media (about once a month some mope comes by with a floppy they want to read), but that's about it. Once a year I find any pile of junk that's accumulated, and discard the bottom third of it.

    Doing a rehab was also really great for getting rid of junk. I had the basement rewired and new drywall put up this year, which means I absolutely had to get the junk under control. The basement was the exception to my 5-year rule - I ended up throwing out most of a dumpster (same thing as a skip I believe) of CRTs, tower units with most of the guts already gone (I "erase" old hard disks by running a 3/8th inch bit all the way through the case with a drill press), reference books and manuals, and other accumulated cruft. It felt GREAT. Try it sometime.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Throw that crap out!

      Yes, it does feel good and I've done it for huge accumulations, and without many tears. However, such a purge means tossing out a resource base i.e. not have carcasses and cadavers means you are left with a diminished stock of unexpectedly-useful or fortuitous bits and pieces for roles having no relation to their original purpose.

  21. Michael Thibault

    Don't know why I'd bother when...

    I already have a copy of "No More Clutter". Somewhere. I'm sure of it.

  22. SirDigalot

    Down to 2 medium totes, moving across country helped me discard the less essential things, however, this "equipment" breeds.

    I spent a number of hours reducing my horde of old motherboards hard drives wires, wires, more wires, a few wires that were spliced, and some wires to connect the other wires together! it was all neat and clean, then when we moved it stayed in the tote, before we moved into our new house the stuff had a.) grown and b.) managed to "vomit" all over the place, I swear I never touched it.

    my wife spent a good 2 hours sorting all the stuff out and it was good

    now in the new house, it has not only "vomited" all over the garage, office and other places, but also multiplied exponentially wires and cables that were neatly coiled and taped had escaped and mated with other cables, they had twisted into some form of nest that is best described as a "rat king" I never even went near them either. I somehow managed to "aquire" 3 more motherboards I swear to $deity that I had recycled, and I am not sure exactly why I bought the mock up secret agent laser optical chess I made for a niece I thought I gave that to her too!

    the good news is after a number of drinks I tend to get the "clean bug" and throw it all in recycling.

    but I believe I make the mistake of putting it all back into the same (smaller) tote, where they can once again breed

  23. Chris 242

    Nostalga = no skip

    2 x Cub Monitors

    Days of beeb.

    Daisywheel Printer.

    Shakes yer teeth.

    9pin dot matrix printer.

    The "sound" of progress.

    Should the head get that hot!!

    CBM KoalaPad

    Makes MS draw look like a pointless doodle app.

  24. OtherMyles
    Thumb Up

    Too late

    And to think my girlfriend made me throw out boxes full of junk just last month. Still at least I managed to save a rubber key ZX Spectrum, an Amiga 500 and tv lead from a Playstation One (or, as it was commonly known back then, a 'Playstation').

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