back to article My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Internal hard drives with dust, fluff and shit on. Bundles of CAT5 all tangled like string. These are some of my least favourite things. Regular readers will know that I have banged on before about our shared tendency to hoard bits of hardware that we don't need. That is, we don't …

  1. Franco

    Perhaps we should all club together and start a legacy tech bank like the seed bank in Norway.

    I'll happily donate a pair of PCMCIA cards, one 10/100 ethernet and one 802.11b WiFi.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      I've got

      Two iomega zip drives, one with an 80 pin IDE connection and one with a USB 1 connection. Should I dump the IDE model and keep just the USB one?

      A load of IDE hard drives, CD Drives and DVD drives

      Some floppy drives, one is USB 1, the others are the ribbon connector type

      Various ribbon cables for connecting the above

      And lots and lots of other stuff

      1. Rich 11

        Should I dump the IDE model and keep just the USB one?

        Nooooo!!!! One day somebody will need it. One day.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        > Two iomega zip drives, one with an 80 pin IDE connection and one with a USB 1 connection. Should I dump the IDE model and keep just the USB one?

        I've got a parallel-port and a USB version - they came in handy when tranferring data/installing software on an old IBM PS/2 Note N33sx laptop whose floppy drive was dodgy.

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          ... and I'm sort of glad we had fire in the basement a few years back. Not in our compartment, but the smoke and heat destroyed most of my old hardware carp. I had a huge bag of Simms, from 128k to 4MB. I liked to call it my bag of chips...

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        And I have:

        Two bookcases full of boxed software (including OS/2 Warp 3 *and* 4 as well as an (unopened) copy of the Brief editor as well as loads of games)

        Several boxes of misc hardware - 3com network cards, various SCSI 1 and 2 cards, sound cards, and (maybe) a Voodoo graphics card as well as a couple of ISDN cards.

        Several bits of Sun hardware - Sparc 1 and Sparcstation 5 bit as well as SCSI cables and drives (100 Megabytes! Ohh the space!).

        A Sun 17" CRT monitor - still in use on the odd time I need to see the console of my virtualisation server.

        Various piles of old drives (mostly non-working of so small to be of no practical use).

        Pretty much all the mobile phones I've ever bought from an old T-Moble M2 (Windows CE) to a Palm Treo (PalmOS) to a OnePlus 3. All in pretty mint condition.

        A Nokia 770 and 800 and an Apple Newton - again, all still working..

        I keep meaning to sell it on Fleabay but can't actually get the energy to do it.

        1. jelabarre59

          Two bookcases full of boxed software (including OS/2 Warp 3 *and* 4 as well as an (unopened) copy of the Brief editor as well as loads of games)

          Finally binned by set of AIX install CDs (v3.x-> 5.x, various revisions) last year. But still need to keep my install disks for Quicken98 and Family Tree Maker 7, because those are the versions we still use.

          Had tried donating my SunBlade 100 (UltraSparcIII) to some opensource projects, no one wanted to take it (no keyboard, but it *used* to run just fine otherwise).

          1. morgz84

            I had several Sunblade 100s acquired from a work disposal. I eventually scrapped all but one. Typically, The one I retained was the one with dead graphics. Which is a shame, because I was going to experiment with using it as a thin client. Now that too has been scrapped.

          2. Loud Speaker

            SunBlade 100 (UltraSparcIII) to some opensource projects, no one wanted to take it (no keyboard,

            surely it would run headless, and possibly even diskless (net booted)?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Various piles of old drives (mostly non-working of so small to be of no practical use).

          Ya never know. Few years back I did a clean out of someone else's junk. But I missed the tip trip and took a few days to get around to it again.

          Someone came in with an old machine, legacy but prized data (they got the backups speech), and a drive with a burnt out circuit. Fortunately for them, amongst the crap I'd not been able to bin there was the same model + firmware revision of their drive. Even more fortunately, this was before the days of the BIOS chip that needs to be transferred, so I was able to swap boards and recover their data.

          There are places that buy old HDD's for this purpose.

      4. Swiss Anton

        I've got an Iomega zip that connects via the parallel port. I don't have any discs, I don't have a PC with a parallel port, and the drive makes a nice clicking noise when powered up. Should I bin it?

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Iomega zip that connects via the parallel port.


        2. Timbo

          "the drive makes a nice clicking noise when powered up. Should I bin it?"

          Yup - certain ZIP drives exhibited that fault...I seem to remember that Iomega claimed that there wasn't a fault and it was a user error...but ultimately, enough ZIP drives failed that they were forced to concede that it was their fault.

          1. Ogi

            Iomega Click of Death

            Aaah yes, the Iomega Click of death (CoD).

            Basically a disk would have misaligned tracks, then a zip drive that tries to align with the disk by reading these alignment tracks would keep retrying by repeatedly slamming the heads in and out of the disk (i.e. bring the heads to "park" and back again). This is not supposed to occur very often, and every drive had a set number of park cycles it could handle before the heads would not longer align properly. However Iomega designed the system to handle enough cycles to last the age of the drive, assuming an upper bound (+extra slack just in case) for number of cycles over its lifetime (like MTBF for disk drives).

            However these disks made the drives cycle through the head parking so many times, it would use up the design limit of park cycles long before the drive itself was dead, causing the heads of the drive to misalign themselves, but the drive to otherwise work fine.

            These heads would then corrupt the alignment tracks on every other good zip disk that was inserted, causing those disks to have misaligned tracks. Those disks would go to other "good" drives, the misaligned tracks would mess those drives up, and so on... It was like a hardware based virus(*)

            Dear lord, that caused so much trouble back in the day. I was working in Graphics design, and pretty much the entire industry used ZIP drives. Your 300dpi TIFF for print was not going to fit on a floppy, it would take you a day to send it over the 56k modem or ISDN line (and cost you a bomb in telephone and internet fees), and consumer PC CD burners were still a dream. So people mailed disks to you (or if urgent, brought it in themselves).

            As a result, the CoD was a massive pain, because of the nature of it "infecting" healthy disks and drives, meant print shops, who would receive a ton of these disks in the mail, which they had to use to load up the clients images for print, basically became massive CoD incubators.

            I personally believe it was the cause of the Iomega ZIP drive stalling as a storage medium. Had that not happened, I could have seen ZIP disks and their descendants replacing floppies completely. Hell, the 2GB Jaz drives were better than CD's, because they were re writable, had more storage, and were hard encased, but the reputation of Iomega was ruined too far at that point.

            (*) I actually suspected at the time that it was a very clever hardware virus. Someone (a competitor perhaps?) realised this flaw in the design of the ZIP system, and purposefully made a few disks with messed up alignments (it would be relatively easy to deliberately modify the first "Genesis" Zip drive heads to be misaligned enough to cause the problem) . They could send the disk to a printers, knowing that it would spread from there, or just leave them for people to use ( ZIP disks were like floppies, but much more expensive, so people would format and re-use them all the time, even ones they found left in the toilets). By the time people realised it was a problem, and what the actual problem was, and what caused it, it was be impossible to work out where it originated from. If it was a deliberate ploy, it was truly masterful in its elegance and execution.

            Icon because its a Friday, and I really need one due to the trauma that has now been recalled from the depths of my mind!

            1. Alistair Dabbs

              Re: Iomega Click of Death

              >> Your 300dpi TIFF for print was not going to fit on a floppy, it would take you a day to send it over the 56k modem or ISDN line

              A freelance programmer I was working with in the 1990s sent me 10 CDRs by post along with a note asserting, with calculations, that Royal Mail was demonstrably faster than ISDN.

        3. Kubla Cant

          How about...

          Numerous motherboards removed when upgrading my PC and kept in case I ever needed to build a really slow computer.

          Even more IDE hard disks, in case I wanted to revert to less storage.

          The ISDN stuff that came off the wall when I graduated to broadband, in case I wanted a slow, expensive connection for my downgraded PC.

          A Vodafone PCMCIA card.

          A Bluetooth dongle.

          And tonight's star prize: a Digital Equipment SCSI tape streamer and a collection of DLT tapes, some containing backups from the last millennium.

        4. Barry Rueger

          Oh God! The Click Of Death!

          Kids today have no idea of the trials and tribulations we suffered!

        5. katrinab Silver badge

          Yes, if it has the click of death, you should definitely bin it.

        6. Soruk

          I have 2 Zip drives (one parallel, one USB) and over a lifetime's worth of spare discs, all working when last tested.

      5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        I can add

        A SCSI version of the Iomega ZIPdrive, to complement the parallel, USB and IDE versions. I even still have some disks

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I've still got my LS-120 drive (IDE version) with a couple of (presumably) blank disks in the loft, which is the oddest thing I've got. I've kept an old motherboard/CPU/RAM combo that has IDE slots just in case I ever want to fire it up...

      7. jelabarre59

        Two iomega zip drives, one with an 80 pin IDE connection and one with a USB 1 connection. Should I dump the IDE model and keep just the USB one?

        USB, IDE, *and* a SCSI Zip Drive. Along with an Iomega Jaz drive, and disks for both systems. Wouldn't ever risk letting my data anywhere near a Zip drive these days.

        I really do mean to sort through and clean up my accumulated old parts, maybe this winter. Or this spring. Or summer.... And I definitely will get around to replacing the bad caps on that stack of machines with "capacitor plague", really really soon now.

      8. J. R. Hartley

        I'll take that IDE one.

      9. macjules

        After a quick inventory check in "the cupboard that bears no name"

        2x 88Mb Syquest drives (SCSI)

        1x 200Mb Syquest Drive (SCSI)

        Iomega Jaz drive (SCSI)

        USB 3.5" Floppy Drive *

        1 Fujitsu 3.5" optical drive

        Various assorted SCSI/10B2 terminators, T pieces, ultra think cabling etc

        Lots of AppleTalk "network" cabling and UI connectors

        And most prized possession of all: a Quadra 650 complete with 80Mb HD, 8Mb RAM and a 2Mb Radius graphics card.

        * Because I bought a blue G3 with no floppy drive and then bought an Epson colour printer with RIP that required you to have a floppy drive to install the software.

      10. David Given

        I just *bought* a ZIP drive --- three, actually, in order to be reasonably confident that I got a working one.

        The parallel port interface plus the DOS driver at (which I actually paid money for) allows me to use a ZIP drive as a pretty slow but completely functional hard drive for a *genuinely* interesting piece of hardware I have, a 13kg IBM PC Convertible laptop from 1986. It works pretty well, although I'd completely forgotten just how annoying old-school hard drive whine is.

    2. NiceCuppaTea

      I will see you PCMCIA 10/100 and raise you a 10 mbit ISA network adapter that has been in my possession for at least 20 years and is about the same size as a micro atx motherboard!

      1. Timbo

        I will see your 10 mbit ISA network card and raise you 2x 10 base-2 network cards AND a really nice combination VGA graphics/2Mb extended memory card (ISA bus) !!

        1. goldcd

          I've still got a pile of 2x10 terminators, T-pieces and connectors.

          Very satisfying when you feel the need for some impromptu-sculpting/construction

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: I've still got a pile of 2x10 terminators, T-pieces and connectors.

            I'm not even going to start listing what i'm holding, but suffice to say that when doing a site visit for an unrelated reason the CEO of a national grade supplier (very, very old contact) wryly mentioned he'd been asked to sell spares for my type of system by another company at "blank cheque" level money who had needed to do an emergency fix for an out of support system. This company had found that the international supply chain now contains zero of these parts, and were phoning around other former maintainers hoping somebody was keeping some spares.

            I am assured that I literally hold the only known comprehensive set of spare parts (x2 of everything) anywhere in the world for this system as a result of deciding that spare parts availability might be a future issue years ago, doing a back of the envelope calculation on the cost of complete replacement versus the cost of buying up every spare going cheaply on eBay and persuading managlement that it would be worth committing a bit of cash to buying up a modest stock of spares to keep us ticking over until we decide to replace the system.

            He also said that the numbers of trained people left in the industry who can work on these systems are at the "count them on your fingers" level and suggested that I might be the most practiced person left maintaining one of these systems. Bless.

            Forgive the AC and not mentioning what the system is. Now I know what the parts are worth i'm concerned that my spares store could be a major target for burglary. I will say though that I love the BMA crowd. The "don't hold spares" cos "just in time" attitude has made my spares worth a fortune now.

            It really would be worth having a site that does keep track of what odd spares we have around since one persons rubbish really is anothers gold when that part breaks on a production system that really should have been replaced a lifetime ago.

            1. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: I've still got a pile of 2x10 terminators, T-pieces and connectors.

              It really would be worth having a site that does keep track of what odd spares we have around since one persons rubbish really is anothers gold when that part breaks on a production system that really should have been replaced a lifetime ago.

              It seems from another story that the Navy will be interested in anything...

            2. JLV

              Re: I've still got a pile of 2x10 terminators, T-pieces and connectors.

              NASA Ebayin’ 8086 chips frantically to keep the Shuttles up...

        2. NiceCuppaTea

          You win!

        3. kventin

          combined rj45/bnc pcmcia card with thinkpad 570 to match (including ultrabay to dock it in _and_ a dock to dock the ultrabay in)

          however, one can also specialize. hence, a box of RAM chips, some of which i don't remember the name anymore. about 20 of them, with median capacity in megabytes. as i don't have anything to plug them into anymore, they'll probably end in some school art project.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Any interest in the following?

            - Sun "Happy Meal" ethernet card

            - Atari ST Basic (boxed with manual, but the floppy disk is blank for some reason)

            - Ethernet hub that only has BNC connectors

            - Camera for an SGI Indy (uncased)

            - Motorola 88000 (not 68000) instruction set guide

            1. DJV Silver badge

              I've still got a few original Commodore PET Software cassettes (MicroChess, Invaders, LEM Lander, Super Star Trek).

        4. Rafael #872397

          Computer Archaeology

          I work in the CS department of a university in a large, coffee-and-samba oriented country that shall remain unnamed.

          Some of the grad students used to have a large metal cabinet as a divisor in their shared office. Besides being festooned with stickers and year-old notes nobody had they keys for it -- they just assumed it was a convenient piece of metal used to hid their screens from others' views.

          When we changed offices we had to move it, and nobody claimed ownership. Being curious and irresponsible, I decided to apply the adequate amount of force to open the doors. Inside there were a bunch of SCSI cables and terminators, 8mm tape drives for a backup driver, a huge box of SIMMs (total amount of memory: < 2gb), random pieces of SUN gear, lots of ZIP disks and drives and a box of 8-inch floppy disks.

          Shame on me, I kept it all. The 8-inch floppy disks are a funny conversation starter (hey, babe, want to see my 8-incher) and also a embarrassing conversation stopper (either "huh...." or "how old are you again?")

          1. John Gamble

            Re: Computer Archaeology

            I did manage to toss old cases, keyboards, and monitors, but I removed the hard drives before putting them to the alley (we have scavengers on a regular circuit -- I feel better now about putting out stuff that's too good for the garbage but which the recyclers can't handle).

            But I still have a VT-100. I don't expect to ever use it again (well, for a couple years I thought that I might), but instead of tossing it I'm thinking of re-purposing it. Perhaps as an IOT device. Or a compact fish tank.

    3. Nick Kew

      I *think* I can top that.

      That is to say, I think I may still have a PCMCIA dialup modem. Used to be indispensable when I visited the parents, before they finally acquired broadband.

      And somewhere there are bound to be things from pre-PCMCIA times. Anyone have a use for an EISA SCSI card? Still worked fine last time I had anything to connect it to. Only for those old enough to remember or bright enough to figure out setting pre-plug&pray jumpers.

      1. Franco

        Oh, I can go pre-PCMCIA if you want. I still have a 56K US Robotics external modem that would connect to a COM port.

        Last used about 4 years ago, I found it in a box when moving a client to new premises and at the new premises the comms cabinet where the broadband line came in was 4 floors up from the office they were in. As all the phones were digital and I didn't have a butt tester but did have a USB to serial adapter the modem became the test device to find which cable was faulty and preventing the MFD from getting a dial-tone (It was an Accountant and they still heavily used faxes even then)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I've got an ISA sound card and a PCI graphics card. Why? That's anyone's guess.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          In the attic I have... 7 computer carcasses, 3 boxes of cd rom drives, a box of at and atx power supplies, about 8 DSL modem/routers, mainly netgear DG834s, and a SACK of dialup modems.... All brand new. Got them at a clearance auction for a pound,. The modems themselves are useless but the pieces can be handy for projects

        3. Allan George Dyer

          @Franco - "I still have a 56K US Robotics external modem that would connect to a COM port."

          Pfft! I'm still using a 28.8K Hayes modem, connected to a Serial/USB adapter. Well, it's better than keeping a fax machine. Some of my customers still send POs by fax.

    4. goldcd

      I was going to write exactly the same thing

      More like a local library/storage unit.

      Create a list of everything that could possibly be needed. If they have it bin yours, if they don't take yours in.

      Then if you need to borrow something, pop in and take it. I'm not even too bothered about theft, I've got so much junk I willingly press into the hands of anybody who expresses the slightest indication it's what they need.

      As well as all my IT gubbins, I'd like to include those tools you buy for single jobs. Currently on my desk I've got a mega-pack of washers, tap-spanners and grinders I used to sort out a couple of annoying taps. Suspect I won't need these for another decade..

      Would be quite a useful addition to the high street - don't need any more charity shops, and good reason to get somebody to go in.

      1. goldcd

        Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

        I just googled "tool library" - seemingly there's one already under a mile from where I'm sitting..

        They seem light on the IT side of things, but intend to change that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

          They seem light on the IT side of things, but intend to change that.

          Somehow a quote from the ST:Voyager pilot comes to mind....

          "You have made an enemy today".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

        "Then if you need to borrow something, pop in and take it. "

        The problem is that you would then find someone had mislaid the irreplaceable cable required to make it work.

        1. Loud Speaker

          Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

          The problem is that you would then find someone had mislaid the irreplaceable cable required to make it work.

          Don't worry, I have what you need!

          l large amount of Intel based stuff, all of it older than Windows XP, although the really

          old stuff went to Sierra Leone some years ago. (I sold the 8" floppies to the Zambian Army).

          I did throw away all the modems/routers too old for LEDE.

          I have Sun cables for anything so recent it does not have a Motorola CPU. The oldest processor

          I still own is an Ultra5.

          I also have more SCSI 1 and SCSI2 H/Ds than you can shake a stick at (I tried, just to prove it!)

          and quite a few SCSI3's but some of those are still in use, so I would not want to part with them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

        "Suspect I won't need these for another decade."

        When that time comes you will remember someone borrowed them. Probably a self-declared "declutterer" who after using something they've borrowed - always throws it away rather than return it.

        Their justification is that they are helping you to stop being a hoarder.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

          Their justification is that they are helping you to stop being a hoarder.

          I've known a few people like that in my life. They're the reason for my stockpile of quicklime.

          (joke, duh...)

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I was going to write exactly the same thing

        "I've got a mega-pack of washers, tap-spanners and grinders..."

        aka a Soho Threeway

        not recommended without vaseline and a few sambucas

    5. I am the liquor

      Anyone need an old 88MB SyQuest drive, or a Farallon SCSI-to-10base2 ethernet adapter for an early-model Mac?

    6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I set a 15 years limit on computer tech. After 15 years regardless of the sentimental value it goes out of the loft and into the skip.

      1. BongoJoe

        I set a 15 years limit on computer tech. After 15 years regardless of the sentimental value it goes out of the loft and into the skip.

        I did that once when moving house and somehow my old Sinclair Programmable Calculator (and books) and Z88 must have gone with the proper junk.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Sinclair programmable calculator

          Teaching in Tottenham in the early 80s I had one of those. Locked in my desk, locked in my classroom. One lunch time one (or more) of the little sods managed to get through both locks ( desk one he just broke if I remember correctly) and nicked the thing. I really missed it, too.

    7. AmenFromMars

      I've got a desk drawer stuffed with Cisco 16MB PCMCIA flash memory cards. I wish you could post photos on here, you have to see it to believe it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I wish you could post photos on here, you have to see it to believe it.

        You could go to one of the free photo hosting sites[1], upload there, and drop the link here.

        Though on this site you'd probably find a lot of twats posting pics of their wangs[2]...

        [1] Be damned sure you read and understand their terms if you wish to retain any rights to your pics!

        [2]"Wang" was a brand of computer, for those who don't know...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've got a full height 5-whatever" HDD sitting around. Can't recall the interface (I think it's more likely SCSI or IDE than MFM/RLL). I also have a full-sized VESA IDE interface card. Some SB16s, several ~320 MB SCSI HDD's (from Conner), at least one 16 bit ISA network card with only a BNC connector. Oh, and a motherboard with specs I can't recall but it'll take a 386 co processor.

      I possibly have a bag of 30 pin SIMMs somewhere, maybe some 72 pin ones. May even have some 30 pin SIPPS as well. At lots of DDR 1 and 2 desktop ram. And at least one 256m SODIMM module.

      Oh and we cannot forget the Behemoth. A very high res (2kx2k at least) CRT monitor, formerly used for graphics work. Weighs in at IIRC around 45KG. The sort of beast those extra-extra-extra wide computer desks were built for (the ones that strangely could take a monitor that's a good meter deep). Still works beautifully. Note the high pitched whirring sound, and clicking/hissing sound, as it warms up - the former is the sound of your power meter as is spins to near relativistic speeds, the latter is the sound of the shareholders in the power company rubbing their hands in glee. Last time I turned it on there were blackouts across much of North America!

      No wonder there's no room for the car in the garage.... What's the address of that guy you were talking about again? I'm sure I can help him rebuild his prized collection after his release.

    9. Flywheel

      I have a PCMCIA card that is a carrier for a CompactFlash Hard Drive, capacity 256Mb. I can't bring myself to part with it, but why?!

    10. pAnoNymous

      No way can you have precious. Thieves!!!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I am clearing a family members place. Which is like some of the worse, but I guess not the worse, from those shows.

    Sadly no rare tech as far as I know, it was all bargain car boot £3 job bits and bobs. Some new tech. Some memories... and a ton of DV camcorders and VHS players.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hoarders.

      Just found a commodore calculator. Not the entire pc... but smaller if on display on the shelf. XD

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hoarders.

        Still have my Texas Programmer calculator from 1978. The one that did binary, octal, hex - and functions like XOR. Also a Casio date/day calculator from early 1980s.

        A "thing of beauty" - quite literally - is a PC ISA bus prototype card from 1985/6. Handwired with wire-wrap in various dayglo colours. Has two MMI FPGAs and some "superfast" (45ns) SRAM as a state machine for realtime 10mbps Ethernet diagnostics. Plus all my drawings and development notes.

        My Bib wire-stripper - which might go back to my teenage 1960s - is still far better than any new designs. It is very rare for it to put a nick the copper when stripping insulation.

        Many of my toolboxes' contents date back to 1972 when I first started doing my own car maintenance. The heavy duty pop riveter that was bought to do regular repairs on the Mini-Moke side panels - amazed the neighbours recently when their rusting garage doors needed some rivet replacements.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hoarders.

          Many of my toolboxes' contents date back to 1972 when I first started doing my own car maintenance.

          Dang, I wasn't even breathing in '72!

          I still have some of my first vehicle tools as well. More than 30 years of use, yet still good (although I've had to replace an alligator clip on a test light after it got crushed by the last person who borrowed it some 20 years back!). The new stuff just doesn't seem to last. I had a cheap jigsaw that finally died (blade guide worn out) when I pushed it really hard trying to finish off a project before it rained. The high-priced "tradesman grade" unit lasted a few months, as did it's replacement, and the replacement's replacement. My old one was something I brought as a kid on a tight budget to finish cutting parts for a kid's construction project, wasn't expected to last the year. The new one was brought as a tradesman on a tradesman's tool budget, reasonably expected to last several years with heavy use, but the build quality of the modern 'expensive' is not nearly as good as last century's 'cheap junk'.

          Oh, I also have some of my great-grandfather's gardening tools now. Yes, original blades and handles, at least on most of them (someone thinks one of the hoes or rakes got a broken handle). There is one axe that needs a new handle. And the G-clamps I use were purchased in the 1950s. The bench vice dates back to the 40s or maybe 30s. Many people tell me I need new tools, I ask them to show me a vice that'll still be as good after even 5 years, let alone 70 years of at least monthly use.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hoarders.

      Sadly no rare tech as far as I know, it was all bargain car boot £3 job bits and bobs.

      The annoying thing there (aside from the reasons why you're doing the clean up of course :( ) is that sometimes the sellers of these odd bits have no idea of the value of what they have.

      I know from having sometimes looked over Ebay and the like, that in my life time I've thrown out enough worthless junk to have been able to buy a reasonable plot of land. Working hardware that I'd never use again, no one would ever want.. but some factory uses that bit on their multi-million $ production line and they urgently need a replacement.. I've seen stuff I once had valued at more than I've earned in the last 2 years!

      And at the time if you'd offered me a tenner I would've given it and your money to you. I had no idea what it was worth.

      But.. going through and finding what is actually there, and even what works, takes so much time and effort. And that you have to do before you look at finding a buyer etc.

      (Those guys on that 'american pickers' show would be the sort you really want to find - but know that if they readily accept a price your value was too low! And no, I don't watch it, it used to be on just before "Family Guy" so I'd sometimes catch the last couple of minutes :( )

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

    Um, Yes, yes they do, I was just asked for a Firewire 800 cable yesterday. And as long as you're talking scsi, yes, we were told to keep the scsi cables as our old tape drive connects via scsi.

    My mantra is keep one of everything when possible to avoid the need of everything !

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

      What if it breaks? Better keep TWO of everything.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

        @Alistair Dabbs

        Fool me once same on you? Break down a second time and you're the next guys problem!

        yes, my coat, because there isn't a security guard with a box for your belongings icon

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

      I actually still use Firewire 800 hard drives, so that sort of stuff definitely isn't on my list of things to throw out.

    3. liac

      Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

      "My mantra is keep one of everything when possible to avoid the need of everything !"

      I try to keep 2 of everything (a la Noah's ark) so that: 1) items don't get lonely 2) they might spawn one day and produce little ones, 3) If one fails when needed, I'll have backup

      Have too many small items...cables, etc.. to list, but in addition:

      serial mice

      1200, 2400, 4800, 5200 modems ( 3 Com ... )

      laplink software and cable, developer kits for Lotus, MSDN, Sniffer, PharLap, BoundsChecker, etc.

      Novell Netware 4 and all NLMs

      complete token ring network - hub, MAUs, cards, cables

      AS/400 + CRT + O/S + keyboard

      a working HP Laserjet 4+ (still being used)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely no one needs any of that Firewire gear any more?

        "I try to keep 2 of everything "

        If one fails - no problem. If two fail then it might be a coincidence. If three fail - give up.

        I bought a neat "ghoul" clock cheaply in the after-Halloween sale a couple of years ago. Picked the one that still worked - although the others were probably just dead batteries from "try me" by too many customers. Resisted my usual temptation to do a precautionary "stock up" at bargain prices.

        The clock worked perfectly well and was incorporated into the following year's display - only to die a few days before Halloween. None in the shops - but ebay produced several - mostly at very eye-watering marked-up prices. Finally bought the cheapest which cost about 50% more than the store's full price the previous year. A great success on the night.

        Ordered a transistor which was possibly dead in the original clock - but never found time in 12 months to do the diagnostics etc.

        This year - while setting up the display - a neighbour's 4 year old wanted to set the clock running every day. A few days before Halloween it developed a mechanical fault.*** Resisted the temptation to try to take it apart to fix it - a crude circumvention was possible. Found another one on ebay - again at about a 50% premium. Then found that the mechanical fault was easy to see and fix without taking the clock apart.

        The moral of the story is - when you see a quantity of something at a bargain price - buy at least three.

        **If he hadn't tested it to destruction it would probably have failed on the night. The five minute job of fitting fresh batteries on the day took somewhat longer than expected. Some well-known makes of "AA" batteries had incompatible length positive terminals.

  4. anatak

    A deadline ?

    Is that like an isdn line that you keep just in case ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A deadline ?

      Storage unit costs? Are the Ds moving somewhere?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: A deadline ?

        Well, I may not be able to beat you for age of old junk, but does anyone need a fully functional desktop system and accessories for publishing from, say, 2001 or so? I've got this tower with a wonderful pentium in there, a whole 256 MB of memory, and a 30 GB hard drive. It has USB 1 ports, though one is broken, and of course a slow CD reader that is the major way of getting data into it. Plus a scanner that uses a firewire 400 connection and weighs about sixty kilos. There's a printer, too, some inkjet thing that you probably can't actually get cartridges for, but it's still there. I plead not guilty; this is at my parents' house, and somehow I always get sidetracked though I've wanted to get rid of the thing for at least five years now.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm just as guilty here as Alistair. I've got a collection of Iomega drives - Zip, Jaz and Rev - plus install disks for Windows NT 4.0, a set of genuine Laplink cables, and a Handspring Treo 600. Yes, one of the few Treo 600 models produced before the company was acquired by Palm.

    All of this and a *lot* more is sitting around my house because I have some vague hope that some of it might be worth something someday!

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: Guilty!

      Some places are still selling that sort of stuff:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Guilty!

        You mean this isn't going to be my golden nest egg? Bah!

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Guilty!

      LapLink, bloody hell. Memories. Not good ones.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Guilty!

        "LapLink, bloody hell. Memories. Not good ones."

        Rooting around for something else the other day, I came across my home-made "hydra" laplink cable which has 25 pin serial at each end, with an extra lead out from each 25 pin to a 9 pin serialand also 25 pin D printer port plugs. It saved on carrying adaptors. Tangled up with it was with an actual Dymo labelled cable on it saying "ParNet" from my old Amiga days :-)

        1. Olivier2553

          Re: Guilty!

          Talking about 25 pins serial cables, I still have a patch module for serial connection, the type where you could build ad-hoc connection by patching this pin to that pin and creating all types of fancy cables.

          It has been around since I joined in early 1993.

  6. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge


    I thought Alistair had been peeking into my old home office for a minute, but it's a crate full of old Nokia chargers, two modular Xircom Port stations, and various old WiFi routers and,, a 56k modem (or two),... nearest the Window,.... the other three crates,....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peeking?

      "the other three crates,...."

      At the last count there are 64 x 35 litre crates lining the garage walls floor to ceiling. Plus half a dozen in the order of 80 litres - and several of the old "stacker" types. That excludes others stored in the garden shed - and its added annex. All nicely labelled so things can be found - one of the (according to friends) rare bits of organisation in my life. Actually my creed is "everything in its place" - but the problem is providing "a place for everything". The planned new shed annex might help.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Peeking?

        "All nicely labelled so things can be found"

        That's cheating!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just one more thing...

    I'll find a use for these 10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators some day I tell you!

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Just one more thing...

      @AC: "10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators"

      I don't have any of those in my crates. They are in the little blue toolbox, under the desk. : -)

    2. Mongo 1

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Caps too light.

      Three or more T-pieces make pretty desk boss toy.

    3. A K Stiles
      Thumb Up

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Ah, they'd be the perfect accompaniment to the 87.5m roll of co-axial cable I have in the spares box in the garage (or is it in the loft?)

    4. dave 81

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Yea, I have a few, and the T-pieces as well. But no cards that I could use with them anywhere.

      1. TheHoarder

        Re: Just one more thing...

        I've got a 3Com 8-port hub to hang off it.

    5. Gnomalarta
      IT Angle

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Contact your local amateur radio club, very useful for making low power RF measurements.

      1. I3N

        Re: Just one more thing...

        Only if one port is a Hi-Z port ...

        I think (50 * 50)/(50+50) still equals 25 ...

    6. Mage

      Re: 10-Base-2 50-ohm terminators

      I use them on my HP 141T plug ins. The 8555 used a good few, also some other test gear. I'm also using some of the shorter cables replaced in 1998 by Cat5.

      Also I've converted some T into L adaptors.

      Dumped a load of MS Select, MSDN and TechNet disks from 1993 to 2001 last month.

      Dumped a load of EISA cards (RAID SCSI), early ISA CAD video with VGA daughter boards, 8088 to 486 Mobos and screens a couple of years ago and missed none of it. I must have another clearout in attic so I can move the more modern IT stuff and old collectable non-IT stuff to attic.

      Anyone want a real IBM AT with AST memory cards, VGA, various floppy and maybe 2 x MFM HDDs (with spares?)

      Or copies of Word 2.0a on CD (copied from Floppy 14 years ago, plus manuals and licenses)?

      A bunch of 17" multisync CRTs?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Remember scuttling the plan of a co-worker to open them up and replace w/75 Ohm resistors and 'give' them to our in-house competition.

      In response to being told we couldn't ping our devices over their network.

  8. 0laf

    I used to have a box of pentium 2 processors and some compatible motherboards.

    The cable clear out has happened although I've still got 3 palm pilots, a few Win 6 phones, a P1 with a Voodoo 1 coprocessing card and fuck know what else junk kicking around. My only regrets are not holding onto more of it.

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge

    This is not limited to IT stuff only. I had for decades a towel holder meant to be placed on a specific form of heater. For decades I had never the use, all the flats I was in had incompatible heaters. I threw it away. A few months later, I moved to a house were it would have been useful :doh:

    My mom uses to say that "objects are mean" - She's absolutely right.

  10. Dr_N

    Bin it all.

    Just Do It. √

    Feels great once you break your compulsive hoarding disorder.

    1. gotes

      Re: Bin it all.

      But then you'll spend the next few weeks trying to source it all on eBay as inevitably you'll have a need for the stuff you just chucked away. Did you even read the article?

    2. DropBear

      Re: Bin it all.

      No it doesn't. If you wish to be the "agile" bloke with a toothbrush and a shirt as his sole possessions, be my guest. My existence is supported by the things around me, even when they're no longer of any practical use, and their loss diminishes me - and before you start, we both know it's not the odd USB cable I'm talking about here. And I will not be sending that stuff into the sunset, regardless of who might find it objectionable. It's part of me. It stays. You do whatever you want.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Its not All or nothing!

        Its a balancing act.

        I'm on the lean side , due to lack of space . 2 boxes of cables (scarts and other older ones have been chucked) 1 box vinyl . one shed containing a dismantled car that is the same model as the one i drive .

        1 box misc pci cards etc

        You have to weigh up the odds of someone wanting to pay you money to show up with a parallel floppy drive that only works in xp against the cubic inches it takes up.

        We all wish we had a magic shed like the Tardis... but most dont.

        Software ans files on the other hand.... hoard as much as you want! Hard drive storage is massive and so cheap you can keep anything! (within reason)(a 100 disc blu ray collection is not "within reason" - keep that on tye discs it came on)

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        re It's part of me. It stays.

        Look forward to seeing you on the "hoarders" tv programme ....

      3. Kubla Cant

        Re: Bin it all.

        the "agile" bloke with a toothbrush and a shirt as his sole possessions

        That's going too far. Even Jack Reacher has trousers too.

      4. Dr_N

        Re: Bin it all.

        "My existence is supported by the things around me, even when they're no longer of any practical use"

        Demijohns of your own urine in the attic to, huh?

  11. SteveK

    On a larger scale

    Yes, I have the obligatory crate of random power supplies from obsolete kit 'just in case' and many boxes of tangled cables. But over the years at work I also appear to have collected or inherited a bunch of larger and less common items that I really know that I will never find the time to do something with (I haven't in the last 15 years when I had more free time so there's no chance now) and noone else wants, but I just can't bring myself to commit them to the WEEE recycling collection firm.

    The largest of those is a Silicon Graphics Challenge L ('deskside' chassis the size of a small fridge). Also a bunch of other SGI and Sun workstations from the 90s, all in various states of disrepair and I think none actually working.

    1. Down not across

      Re: On a larger scale

      The largest of those is a Silicon Graphics Challenge L ('deskside' chassis the size of a small fridge). Also a bunch of other SGI and Sun workstations from the 90s, all in various states of disrepair and I think none actually working.

      I'm in that boat. Minus the Challenge L, but I do have various old HP 3000,9000, DEC (VAX,MIPS,Alpha) and Data General workstations and servers. Accompanying all that, is bunch of terminals, cabling, old network kit starting from early says of ethernet. There is also myriad of smaller,handheld and Z80 and x86 based stuff.

      I should clear out. But I actually like the old stuff. The old stuff had soul. Maybe that's why they play tricks if you try to get rid of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On a larger scale

        I know a few places that are still running critical stuff on Alphas. Hang on to that kit, you might even want to set up an ebay store.

      2. Montreal Sean

        Re: On a larger scale

        How do you all have space for this amount of stuff?

        I have been clearing out my house, I've given away 3 desktop computers, with associated LCD and keyboard and mouse.

        I'm down to a desktop and a laptop.

        I've cleared out boxes of old cables, cards, cdroms that will never be used again, car parts for cars I don't own anymore


        It feels good. I've spent years (since my first son was born) feeling bad for not finding enough time to make use of this stuff. Now it's a weight that has been lifted.

        I'm happier, and so is the rest of my family since that nagging feeling has stopped stressing me out.

    2. ibmalone

      Re: On a larger scale

      I just can't bring myself to commit them to the WEEE recycling collection firm.

      While we're on the subject, how awful are consumer WEEE arrangements? Retailer claims to pay into national recycling schemes, gives you a link to a website that redirects to local council, local council will have one recycling site that accepts things, or, if you are in London, will share it with an adjacent council and it'll be in an inaccessible part of the city. And don't get me started on trying to get rid of scrap metal responsibly...

  12. Nila


    The obligatory first step to begin is to say loudly:

    My name is ..., and I am a hoarder...

    But did you noticed the trend? You will ONLY need that kit IF you throw it away. You will NEVER need it as long as you have it. As such it is impossible to benefit from you having it.

    So logical thing to do is to throw it all away, buy decent stock of alcohol to help with the pain in a few short months until all the requests to borrow stuff you now no longer have died out.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Logic

      "As such it is impossible to benefit from you having it."

      No, you benefit immensely from having it. The benefit is the absence of the need you'd have if you binned it. Don't discount that.

  13. Roger Ramjet

    One day...

    I still keep a 486 box with an IDE A: drive. I've resurrected a few of my custards 'floppies' over the years.

    Also boxes and boxes of all manner of cabling from 10base onwards - PCB's I can't remember how to use.

  14. Alister

    My wife's uncle died earlier this year, and the family gathered round to undertake the task of clearing his house (he lived alone). He was a motor mechanic, who at various times had worked for a number of race and rally teams.

    The house was as you might expect from a long-term batchelor, with car magazines piled up in stacks in the living room, new forms of life growing in the kitchen, and take-away food containers and pizza boxes much in evidence.

    Upstairs (in a three-bedroom house) one bedroom was in use, the other two were full of all sorts of junk, masses of broken car parts: old batteries, cylinder heads, carburettors, you name it, it was there, covered in oil or rust or worse.

    Climb up into the loft, and it was a different world!

    A clinically clean, white painted room, with work benches round the walls, racks and racks of tools all carefully placed in order of size, and various bench tools - small lathe, grinder, pillar drill etc, all immaculately clean, and in the center of the floor, on a stand, a Ford Cosworth V6 engine in the process of being rebuilt.

    We were at a loss with what to do with it all - we certainly couldn't just let a house-clearance gang touch that lot!

    1. Semtex451

      Whatt?!?! You can't end this storey there........

    2. FlossyThePig

      I've not pushing up daisies yet but I did amass a large collection (1000+) of kit car magazines over the years. Without going into detail they had to go. After investigating various methods of disposal I emailed the editor of a kit car magazine that was relatively new to the market. he took the lot and gave me a 5 year subscription to his mag.

      P.S. Around my way there is a charity TWAM (Tools With A Mission) which collects old tools, refurbishes them and then ships them to third world African countries. They even take old computer hardware now.

    3. Kubla Cant

      @Alister I'm not a motor mechanic, but I think if I was rebuilding a car engine I'd do it at ground level. How did you get it out of the loft?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        isnt it obvious?

        I assume he was going to build a small plane fuselage and fly it out there Colditz style!

      2. Alister

        @Kubla Cant,

        I agree, if it were me I'd have done it in the living room :)

        There was a very nice little winch and a big RSJ in the roof over the loft hatch. He'd obviously planned it carefully...

        But that said, he still would have had to lug the engine, and all the tools, up the stairs.

  15. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


    If you ever do get round to ditching your 1970's vinyl, give me a call. I will consider coming and picking it up.

    Many of them are better (or at least more authentic) than the 're-mastered' compressed copies that you can get on digital download.

    1. spiny norman

      Re: Vinyl

      I sold all my classic rock vinyl years ago, but still have two boxes of classical LPs, including the withdrawn "too slow" Pierre Boulez Beethoven's 5th and several Mahler boxed sets. There doesn't seem to be a market...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Vinyl

        but still have two boxes of classical LPs

        That's another thing that used to annoy me about vinyl - different industries used different grades of vinyl which had a considerable effect on quality of sound and longevity.

        It didn't really matter that singles used the cheapest grade since they were short-lived but some record companies also used that grade for albums which, theoretically, should have a longer life.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Vinyl

      Many of them are better (or at least more authentic)

      I never ever got the fetish for vinyl - I hated it at the time (no matter how good your setup was, the sound quality inevitably degraded when you played the record and you had to be really, really careful about how you stored the records[1]) and I still hate it.

      Yes, the remastered versions are often not as 'authentic' as the old records but to my mind that can sometimes be a benefit. Especially when 'authentic' means a crackle-laden mushy sound and several skips during the song... Which might not matter so much on craptastic pop tunes but very much does on prog songs - especially longer ones.

      [1] Which is why I used to play the records as little as possible - once to make sure it was OK and then a second time to record to tape[2]. And only thereafter if I needed to re-do the tape.

      [2] Which was itself a degradation on sound, even on metal tapes with a good tape deck and Dolby.

    3. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Vinyl

      >> If you ever do get round to ditching your 1970's vinyl

      Never. In my final year as a student (1985-6) I had to sell half my record collection in order to buy food. The remainder must not be touched, by anyone, ever. Which is funny because I don't own a record player.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vinyl

      I've got about 9 linear feet of vinyl stored upright on shelves with a mental note to someday buy a turntable designed to rip them to files/CDs. Vinyl isn't weird.

      OTOH, I've got 3 feet of LaserDiscs and two LaserDisc players that haven't been touched in a decade, not to mention random VHS and Beta tapes of various sizes and formats.

      And also the tangle of cables and hardware that the article was about. FYI, my 5 1/4 and 3.5 floppy drives are both internal.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My issue is barely-working usb cables. They kinda work. With that one gadget. But not with the other. And only if you bend them right. Like an aerial cable from a 1980s tv set.

    1. gotes

      Yes, I have several sort-of-working USB cables which I keep just in case I need a USB plug for something.

  17. spiny norman


    The only tech I keep for sentimental reasons is an Atari ST, complete with worn out joysticks and boxes of games, most of which we never got beyond level 1, but kept trying.

    Leads and adaptors do get hoarded because they might be useful one day, but on top of that, I don't really trust that throwing stuff in the small appliances bin at the tip will get them recycled responsibly.

    I used to use Ebay as a way of recycling tech, until someone "returned" a completely broken version of the working tablet they'd bought from me and Ebay refunded their money, despite photos of two plainly different serial numbers.

  18. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Hmmm. Maybe it is time time to..

    I only recently ditched all of my ISA and EISA sound, graphics and communication boards. You know, from the time that PCs didn't even have a serial port on the motherboard.

    I conceded that not even having any motherboards from the era to put them in probably meant that they were surplus to requirements.

    I must get round to ditching all of the <1GB drives sometime, but I've just got to check that there's nothing important on them....

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm. Maybe it is time time to..

      I must get round to ditching all of the <1GB drives sometime


      its not just the 1gb...

      its all the IDE ones ...

      and most of the Satas too.

      if you've got a lot of 160gb sata discs lying around you cant pile them all together to make a decent storage area - there arnt enough sata ports/controllers .

      On this logic I declare any Hard disc smaller than 1tb redundant.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm. Maybe it is time time to..

        Depends what you need them for. IDE drives are useful for particularly old systems where 'large' drives aren't supported, and an IDE to SATA converter isn't appropriate. In those cases either a Disk On Module (DOM) or IDE to compact flash (with a 2-4GB CF) is a decent idea, but DOMs can be pricey.

        However, look into the prices of SCSI to IDE/SATA converters and prepare to wince.

        Moderately sized hard drives (100GB upwards) are useful in hot swap bays for trial operating system installations, provided they're fast enough.

      2. Ramlen

        Re: Hmmm. Maybe it is time time to..

        On this logic I declare any Hard disc smaller than 1tb redundant.

        Still might be usable on an Amiga or PS2 etc.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Hmmm. Maybe it is time time to..

          Disagree that one. My main PC has a 2TB main HDD. But two 500 gig HDDs are in there too. One salvaged from an older system and one from a TV digibox. And they're keeping backups. One has images the other data backups. I do also have other backups, a pair of external drives that I swap between, but the first port of call is the internal discs.


    Actual money changed hands because I'd kept a copy of SCO FoxBase plus ....

    ... and a five-and-a-quarter drive to read it. That put paid to any ideas of throwing things away...

  20. Andytug

    Power adaptors are always useful

    Several times I've bought things without adapters very cheap, and either found a suitable one at home or made one out of two (one with the correct voltage/amperage, one with the right plug) thus saving money, and recycling in the process.

    Sadly this sort of thing will die out, as if Lightning cables are anything to go by they don't last long enough to be re-used, and the cables are so thin inside as to be un-bodgeable.

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Power adaptors are always useful

      oh yes , i dont hoard much but always keep the power adapters!

      Top tip ( that u techies probly already know)

      If the gizmo says 12v / 1A , and your psu says 12v / 5A - it wont blow it up

      The psu amp rate just has to be >= the gizmo's

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Power adaptors are always useful

        If the gizmo says 12v / 1A , and your psu says 12v / 5A - it wont blow it up

        But if the label on the psu, written in 1pt flyspec font actually says 19V 1A, but it has the plug on the lead that fits the gizmo and you plug it in in error, it probably will blow up the gizmo, and possibly the psu as well.

        The one that has annoyed me recently is the power supplies that come with cheap home dehumidifiers. They seem to put out an unusual voltage (IIRC 13V) and also have a plug that isn't the same size or shape as any other standard power supply (a rectangular thing with two 'female' pins and a notch in the side) and seem to burn out after a year, with nowhere you can get a replacement...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Power adaptors are always useful

        "If the gizmo says 12v / 1A , and your psu says 12v / 5A - it wont blow it up"

        If the psu is not regulated then it is probably going to deliver a much higher voltage to a device which has a lower current draw.

        These psus are calculated to deliver the correct voltage at the stated current through the psu's inherent internal resistance. Even if the device has its own built-in regulator - the extra heat dissipation from the excess voltage may soon kill it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Power adaptors are always useful

          If the psu is not regulated then it is probably going to deliver a much higher voltage to a device which has a lower current draw.

          On the one hand.. I've never had a problem with appliance PSU's of any sort. If I have a 12v .00000001A device and a 12V 1,0000,0000amp PSU I'll expect it to work.

          On the other hand.... I've killed a couple of motorbike voltage regulators by jumping the bike from a running car. Older/smaller bikes use something like a zener diode to regulate voltage, and they dump excess power to ground (heating up in the process). A car tends to run at a slightly higher voltage than a bike (IIRC 14.5 vs 14.1), and the poor little zener just cannot keep up.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Power adaptors are always useful

      I keep any 12v and 5v adapters anyway (and need a 16vAC one so will have to hunt through the boxes) as they come in useful for the model railways, LED lighting, powering RPis, etc.

  21. trevorde Silver badge

    True story...

    Well, it was told to me as a true story and one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story...

    There is this bloke in Melbourne, Australia who goes around to all the government auctions and buys up all their obsolete computer gear eg washing machine disk drive etc. He gets the stuff for pennies/cents since its all obsolete and nobody wants it. He then stores it all in a disused aircraft hangar and waits... Inevitably, some *other* government department urgently needs a washing machine disk drive to keep their legacy system going. Guess where they have to go to get one? I'm sure he doesn't mark it up too much!

    1. ocratato

      Re: True story...

      I don't know about the guy in Melbourne, but I have had dealings with a similar company in Adelaide that used to buy and sell stuff to/from what was then known as the Weapons Research Establishment.

      WRE's problem was that we were either trying to buy stuff before it even got onto the market, or alternatively, was so well tried and proven as to be totally obsolete.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: True story...

        well , if that bloke in Melbourne really had his shit together he'd get them to pay him to take the stuff away. The recycling law is on his side with that -what else they gonna do?

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: True story...

      I can believe it.

      A lot of years back I managed to sell a stack of obsolete AS/400 kit that we no longer needed to our maintenance provider for a reasonable sum. It was all unobtainable new and they had customers still using it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: True story...

        A customer moved their IT server support contract from us to an under-cutting competitor. The latter then found that the only source of spares was in our hands - not to mention the technical expertise. They then had to outsource the support to us - but with them taking all the SLA risk and penalties.

  22. Dz

    I feel the need... admit my shame.

    Sometimes I have re-bought items I know I already own because finding them in the loft full of junk is a daunting task. Cables, little widgets, connection converters etc. I know for certain I have at least 1 or 2 of them but a 30 second ordering spree on eBay will yield the item with less effort.

    Someone please make me feel better and tell me i'm not the only person that does this? :s

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: I feel the need...

      You're not the only person. For me, it's got worse since I moved into a big house. When I measure the chore of searching the place for the tool I need* against the cost of replacing it with something that probably costs much less than the original, the replacement usually wins.

      *I wouldn't need to search If I put things away neatly when I've finished with them. But I'm a lifelong believer in "associative retrieval" - I can find anything by remembering what I last did with it. Unfortunately my memory isn't what it was.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: I feel the need...

        I would advise organising everything properly. I historically haven't done that, and if you let things get into a state it takes a colossal amount of work to sort things again.

        If you keep buying things, you then find you have a large number of e.g. DVI to VGA converters (which I've then used, attaching multiple old systems to a KVM)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I feel the need...

        "Unfortunately my memory isn't what it was."

        When putting something "out of my hand" I now try to make a conscious effort of noting where I put it.

        The worst case is coming across something you know you will soon need. You move it to a "safe" place. Then afterwards you find you can only remember where it was originally - and the "safe" place eludes you.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: I feel the need...

          The Mrs and I know, without any doubt, that various items we can never find are in a safe place. If only we could remember what that place is

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: I feel the need...

          "The worst case is coming across something you know you will soon need. You move it to a "safe" place. Then afterwards you find you can only remember where it was originally - and the "safe" place eludes you."

          I always think "where would i expect to find this later on" , and have to put it in that spot, even if thats not where i want to keep it!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I feel the need...

      "[...] but a 30 second ordering spree on eBay will yield the item with less effort."

      Five minutes later - looking for something else - you find the components you knew you had.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I feel the need...

        Five minutes later - without even looking for something else


    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I feel the need...

      "Someone please make me feel better and tell me i'm not the only person that does this?"

      No. Most recent was a pair of pliers. Couldn't find my pliers anywhere. Went out and bought a new pair. Used them. Went to set them down and realised I was putting them beside the pair I couldn't find on a shelf I'd searched several times. Tools have this mysterious ability to dematerialise, possibly move to a different place and maybe time and then return by some quantum jiggery-pokery.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: I feel the need...

      Yes, I do that too. And what happens is that just after buying it, it somehow magically appears at the top of the box of stuff.

  23. Keith Oborn

    Kind of sweet--

    That Melinda Gates, of all people, has an Apple III as a favourite bit of junk. Has she told Bill?

    As for stuff that might be of some historic interest, in the UK try the National Museum of Computing. In California, the Computer History Museum. There are lots of others--.

  24. Steve Button Silver badge

    she'd never allow an Apple product to cross her threshold?

    That's because it says IN the house.

    1. tfewster

      Re: she'd never allow an Apple product to cross her threshold?

      So she can't throw it out, as that would require it to cross the threshold.

  25. Semtex451

    It's nice when we have these group therapy sessions, they help.

    When is it beer time?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My parents asked me to get the data off a floppy disk recently.

    A 3.5" floppy, specifically. Which is really ironic, as I have a functioning 5.25" floppy drive (connected via a FC5025 controller), but the 3.5" drive isn't plugged into anything. I really need to try plugging the 3.5" drive into the FC5025 to see if it'll work, otherwise I may need to acquire a USB floppy drive.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: My parents asked me to get the data off a floppy disk recently.

      Try a library computer if they're still open, they've probably got ancient kit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My parents asked me to get the data off a floppy disk recently.

      "[...] otherwise I may need to acquire a USB floppy drive."

      You may find that a USB 3.5" floppy cannot be reconfigured for non-DOS sector/track permutations - which the old PC internal ones could handle.

      Even worse is when a relative produces an old Amstrad word processor 3" floppy to be read. No one has ever asked to retrieve data off a "magnetic bubble floppy" that one home computer (Sharp?) used.

  27. Andrew Ed

    Anyone need an old RLL hard drive?

    Or a boxed PC Task emulator for the Amiga with original dos 6 and Windows 286 (german) disks ? I am unlikely to use them unless I run UAE on modern hardware and want to run PC Task on UAE to see it still faster than my accelerated Amiga.

    As for usb floppies I bought one two years ago soley to rebuild a Toshiba Portege It was the only way possible until I got Plop boot manager installed!

  28. Havoc

    I got rid of the Sparcstation IPX but still have SCSI cables, HD's, DAT backup and even an external LTO somewhere. Box of ISA cards, even a radio card, box of PCI cards probably even a motherboard cpu and ram to use them in. And in a far away box in the garage some twinax, a 8" floppy, punch card gauges and one of those metal ribbons with characters on for a printer. I case you need a Pentium Pro, slot 1 pentium or 286 chip I have it covered.

    Oh, and I'm single...

  29. oiseau

    Thank you !!!


    Experience has proven time and time again that within a week of ditching ...

    ... so often that I can no longer attribute the phenomenon to coincidence.

    I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of your column but I always read it.

    That said, I have to say that with today's piece you've made my day.

    All these years I've been thinking it was just me.

    Have a beer ----->

    Cheers and a very good week-end to you.


    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Thank you !!!

      >> I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of your column but I always read it.

      I think I've spotted what you're doing wrong here.

    2. Martin

      Re: Thank you !!!

      Experience has proven time and time again that within a week of ditching ...

      ... so often that I can no longer attribute the phenomenon to coincidence.

      This is just a variant of the fact that they ALWAYS try to deliver a parcel to your house in the ten minutes when you pop out to buy the paper. I sometimes wonder if they are waiting round the corner until I go out.

      It's a standard phenomenon, commonly known as Life's A Bitch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank you !!!

        "It's a standard phenomenon, commonly known as Life's A Bitch."

        I recently waited for an urgent parcel to arrive. It was supposed to be "next day" and was already a day late. The seller had sent it "48" in spite of me paying a hefty premium for "24". The Royal Mail tracking said it was now "out for delivery". Then at lunch time the tracking said "could not deliver - no answer - card left".

        No card! Sorting office said it probably wouldn't be on their shelves until the next day. Luckily it was there on a second visit in the evening.

        The following day the next door neighbour gave me the RM "not in" card. The post person had filled in my name and the correct address on the RM "not in" card - but had been trying to deliver to next door.

        The house numbers are 49 and 51. I have the number "51" in large white numerals on the wall by the door. The neighbours have "49" in brass numerals adjacent to their white door's letterbox.

  30. Chris Evans

    The Retro market is big!

    Quite a bit of our sales are 20-35 year old BBC/RISC OS etc kit. Just sold yesterday a BBC micro with no disc interface! I'm on the lookout for old network hubs with 10b2 (BNC) and RJ45. Network intetfaces for some early RISC OS kit are now rare but I have some old but unused 10base2 interfaces that could be used if I can track down some suitable hubs to allow connection to a modern network.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Retro market is big!

      Do you have a site that we can notify what we might have? Certainly still have 10base2 bits in my spares that will probably never be needed again - even possibly some 10base5 AUI to UTP.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Retro market is big!

      May also have something. WHere can you be reached? Or via El Reg?

    3. Olivier2553

      Re: The Retro market is big!

      I have such hubs, a couple of them, 1xBNC 8xRJ45.

      I could send, but I don't know if they still work, nor have I power supply.

      I used to have media converter in all sort of fashion AUI/BNC/RJ45, but those I ditched them few years ago.

  31. alanturingslefteyebrow

    Several boxes of DD 5.25" floppies. I'm sure I'll need them one day.

  32. Fading

    IT kit hoarding confessionals...

    Please forgive me Sys admin for I have sinned.....

    I have allowed my spare DDR sticks to be removed to the recyclers with nary a complaint, my 8086 powered Amstrad 1640 is no longer in my possession and I have had foul thoughts about allowing my 486DX2 to go the way of the ebay....

  33. Terry 6 Silver badge

    assuming you know what it is

    Less a problem with electronic boxes. But LEADS!!

    I have a whole tangle* of leads that I might need for a camera or something. I haven't any idea what they are actually for or if I can dump them. Because the manufacturer of the unknown device used a non-standard, but unbadged lead. I have no idea what the were/are for until I find a device with a nonstandard connection and have to play match the plug then extract the lead from the tangle.

    *It's one of those unexplored laws of nature. Place two or more cables in a dark, isolated space and leave them undisturbed for more than a week.and they will form an impenetrable tangle.

    1. alanturingslefteyebrow

      Re: assuming you know what it is

      Bag of cheap velcro ties from eBay will sort that problem out.

      1. #define INFINITY -1

        Re: assuming you know what it is

        Just hoard the twist tie cables you get with everything.

        Actually I've made good use of junk. Wombles weren't anything to jeer at.

        (Have a box of HP calculators--working--that I 'inherited', which you will pry out of my cold... etc)

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: assuming you know what it is

        I actually have a Brother labeller. Very useful for the assorted plugs that work my fish tank*. But it's too late for that to be used on the device leads now. And the next time I identify and use one I'll be in too much of a hurry to put a nice label on. At least, I'll be in a hurry by the time I've identified it and extracted it.

        * pump, filter, front LED, rear LED, heater

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: assuming you know what it is

          "And the next time I identify and use one I'll be in too much of a hurry to put a nice label on."

          White or yellow electrical tape and a permanent marker pen*** is quick.

          ***assuming you can remember where you left them.

    2. Bowlers

      Re: assuming you know what it is

      "*It's one of those unexplored laws of nature. Place two or more cables in a dark, isolated space and leave them undisturbed for more than a week.and they will form an impenetrable tangle."

      Sorting through my cable collection I found a Parallel to SCSI cable which must have been bred in there as I knew nothing about it. What could it have been used for, truly a bastard cable?

      1. That Badger

        Re: assuming you know what it is

        That's an Apple MacIntosh DB25 SCSI connector. It was probably hooked up to a scanner at one point.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: assuming you know what it is

      "leave them undisturbed for more than a week.and they will form an impenetrable tangle"

      I've explained this before. It's how they breed. You know it's true because there are always more than you started with except for the one you were looking for which has been divorced and left the family home.

  34. Matthew Anderson

    Yes! I brought out a large plastic box of junk hardware just a few days ago, stared at the external floppy drive, considered my options for a few minutes and placed it back in the box for storage.... To be reopened again in a few years time to repeat the same procedure.... I also have a boxed Amstrad 1640 in my garage taking up a considerable amount of room which I cannot persuade myself to get rid of, as well as 6 towers ranging from a 286 up to pentiums and a plethora of laptops in various states of disrepair. Phones and tablets going back at least 10 years also, plus their bloody chargers... Plus various ancient monitors in my attic...

    One day I may get angry enough to ditch some of it. :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "One day I may get angry enough to ditch some of it. :)"

      The worse after-effect emotion is the nagging suspicion that you should have kept it. Reinforced when you find a need for it.

      Doing my Halloween decorations - several times I found something in my spares going back decades that solved a problem. Some of the things were pure serendipity and had been forgotten - even more rewarding when they had originally been "wrong" buys.

  35. jonesthechip

    Useful Legacy Kit

    Well, there's an intel intellec 4 MOD 40 (1975 vintage) in the garage that only needs the 1702A boot/monitor EEPROMS re-reprogramming. I do wish I hadn't binned the ASR33 TeleType all those years ago. And I'm sure that the pair of Series III intellecs MDS dev systems (1981 vintage) will come in useful again some day. (If the wife doesn't find out that the important storage boxes marked 'DO NOT THROW AWAY' actually contain 8" floppy discs...)

  36. spold Silver badge

    Top you all with a Science of Cambridge (Sinclair) MK14 Microprocessor Development Kit

    The membrane keyboard must be the most useless piece of computer hardware ever - even when it was new.

    If you have a cassette recorder still you can even keep your programs (on months without an "R" and no rain and the processor aligned with a chicken).

  37. Herring`

    I have

    a T800 Transputer board - connects to a PC via an 8 bit ISA slot. One day it might be valuable.

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: I have

      Got a couple of those plus a hitachi H8 processor board which i won in a competition (Lucky me!). just waiting for the correct offer

    2. oiseau

      Re: I have


      I still have my home made set of serial/parallel loopback plugs and a few of these cables in various stages of completion/repair. I was so happy when I made them (1995?), can't bear to do away with that kit.

      I also have (and frequently use) a Umax S-6E SCSI-1 scanner that runs off an Adaptec AHA2940UW inside my Sun Ultra24 workstation which I was able to fit with a female Centronics 50 rigged from the inside and an active terminator with LEDS and all (I recall it cost me a good sum) on the scanner.

      A fully working Palm IIIxe syncs through a craddle hooked up to an internal serial port header I discovered on the workstation's motherboard but I'll be gutting a PL2303 Serial/USB adapter to hack it inside the craddle so it won't interfere when I upload data from my serial port temperature datalogger. All under Linux with FOSS, of course.

      There's also a perfectly working external Sun DDS-2 DAT drive that runs off the same Adaptec card and a box of sealed/unused tapes for which, to my chagrin, have no real use these days.

      Much younger is my Asus 1000HE which almost 10 years later still works like a charm, original 250Gb drive and all.



  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Legitimate business expense

    If you are hanging on to kit because you think a client might want it, just get a storage unit and charge it your business. Then at least you can see how much your quirk costs you.

    Having cleared out my parents home , and then their flat as we had to move them to a care home , honestly all that stuff we have that we think is precious, in the end it is just stuff. No one wants your Bond video box set or your video camera. 99.9% of it is just junk. You can charity shop some, recycle some, even ebay a little, but most just ends up in a skip. The stuff we have kept are a selection of photo albums and cine films.

    But you know the one thing I couldn't find and really wanted? My Irish grandfather's birth certificate. That would save me a fair bit of faffing right now.

  39. oldgreyguy

    I will thow in:

    Two Nakamichi SCSI 7 CD external drives

    One Seagate full height SCSI external drive with cable and Adaptec 1540 adapter

    and a Teac (i think) dual 3.5/5.25 floppy drive... with cables

  40. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    I have so much old stuff..

    Most recently I re-used a mini PCI card to provide a second hand firewall off ebay with wireless access point capability (buying a new PCEngines firewall is a tad pricey..)

    I keep a load of old systems to play old games and fiddle around with multi-platform Unix. One of my best purchases was two SGI O2 boxes off ebay for a tenner each(!). I've thrown very little away, and a surprising amount of it has been useful. An old generic ISA graphics card worked in a pentium 3 system that had faulty onboard graphics, and was used as my firewall before I bought the embedded device.

    SCSI that works in everything from PowerMacs to PC kit (CDRW, tape, hard drives). Firewire for newer Macs, PCs, and Thinkpads. Token Ring ISA cards and an MAU. A 10Mb hub with coax connection. I can probably bin the Token Ring.

    There's a minority of completely useless stuff. The ISDN router can go, the Sparcstation 20 is too loud, hot, slow, and power hungry to bother with these days. The couple of Microchannel and Sun cards of some type, and there's nothing to plug them into.

    Also, as this is running in a home environment, noise is a factor.

    The CRTs are alive for now, but when they sadly die I suspect they'll be replaced by something 1440p TFT.

    They key has to be that it doesn't take up too much time, and there's at least one or two fully working systems you don't fiddle with.

  41. Chris Evans

    Freecycle it!

    If you can't bare to take it to the tip or the bother of ebaying it why not Freecycle it?

    People come and take your rubbish away for you!

    1. David Roberts

      Re: Freecycle it!

      Downvoted for being behind the times.

      Ten years ago I could Freegle stuff. These days nobody wants to take things away. Hurts me to throw stuff, but the effort is no longer worth it.

      1. Chris Evans

        Re: Freecycle it!

        "Downvoted for being behind the times."

        Maybe in your area, but around here it is still very effective. In the past year nearly everything I've offered (A dozen or more items) have been collected, mostly with little hassle. I've also picked up a few things. Last week I picked up an EPROM eraser I needed!

  42. ukgnome

    Might be?

    No Sir, it will be.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Zip drive around here (I had a parallel port Zip that I tossed about three years ago, within 6 months, a friend had an urgent need to access some zip disks). I do have:

    * Mystery hard drive (SMD? has a sticker with error map on top)

    * various DAT-72 tapes (some were scratch tapes for testing, some might be dead)

    * various floppes (for backup/transfer data off of production equipment)

    * 2 Windows 95 CDs.

    * DOS 6.22/Win 3.1 installation disk set

    * Targus USB dongle with MicroSD, SD, CF, XD, and a couple more interfaces

    * many SIMMS/DIMMS

    * Windows Update Windows 98 Service Pack 1 CD ("Do Not Make Illegal Copies of This Disc")

    * USB Microsoft optical mouse (the kind with the cool red translucent plastic)

    * Belt clip for an AT&T cordless phone

    * Trident TVGA9000i-2 ISA video card

    OMG... that's just what's in my desk at work. I'm afraid to look around the shelves and cabinets, let alone my basement at home!

  44. aregross

    Along with the usual stuff already listed I still have an IBM PC Expansion box, converted to an XT.... like most of them were, with 256k of RAM and a 10MB HDD!

  45. steve 124

    you too?

    I've got so many stories just like this. I've got a closet full of old crap I'm terrified to get rid of. Maybe this will inspire me to go through it soon and at least get rid of the old rambus memory and ISA cards.

  46. gryphon

    Old Stuff

    Another hoarder.

    Somewhere in the house I have a Netware 286 ISA license key card.

    Plus the usual PSU's, cables etc. like everybody else.

    Oh, and 2 Toshiba Libretto 100CT's WITH the small and large dock AND the 32MB memory upgrade.

    I know you'll all be impressed with those. :-)

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Old Stuff

      Actually, yes, I am impressed by those. The 100CT packs a fair bit of power for a portable DOS machine (and other old OS) in a small space. The next best thing to that is an old Thinkpad with a dock for an ISA card.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Old Stuff

        Perhaps what is worse than having a bunch of obsolete tech is finding obsolete tech that you decide you want. I was recently working at a different location, and helped a colleague there search through some cabinets in the basement, where I found a bunch of really ancient things, one of which was a ... well sort of a laptop from the DOS days, although we don't know exactly which DOS days. This one being a rather rare machine from a manufacturer in New Zealand. I found myself wanting to take this back with me and try to get it running. Then, I remembered a few problems with that:

        1. I didn't know how the thing worked.

        2. The thing didn't have a power cable, so I'd have to make one based on the specs written on the machine.

        3. The machine had two floppy drives, at least one of which had important software. There was already a disk in both drives, but they were not labeled. Next to that was a binder containing at least a hundred more disks. There was really no telling which one had the software on it.

        4. It probably weighed ten kilos or so, and I had to fly back.

        5. Nobody had given me permission to discard this for them, although to judge from the other contents of the cabinet, they were not going to want any of it.

        It's probably still there. If I get sent there again, I might just take it this time.

  47. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    The Divorce Induced Clearout.

    I suspect a lot of my hoard has gone the way of the tip, if I didn't remove it on my last "pickup" run back in the summer (Including my beloved Tapwave Zodiac II's) by the Mrs Outgoing Scorn.

    I have tidied up a lot of my existing stuff, a good chunk remains to be done & I'm already being threatened with stuff heading into the bin by the new Ms Incoming Scorn who doesn't share my love of old tools, cables & bits that will come in handy one day.

    On the plus side we do have a nice very large heated garage to sort it out when we move into a new place at the end of the month, assuming she doesn't strike first with a garbage pre-emptive strike..

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: The Divorce Induced Clearout.

      The Tapwave Zodiac II is a deeply lovely machine, still occasionally fire it up, bought one when Morgan Computers was selling them off cheap. It'll be considerably better than the Spectrum Vega I bet

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Divorce Induced Clearout.

      On the plus side we do have a nice very large heated garage to sort it out when we move into a new place at the end of the month, assuming she doesn't strike first with a garbage pre-emptive strike..

      Should the need for a false-flag revenge strike arise, there's an instruction manual on that here.

  48. Simon Rockman

    I think this proves you can throw things away...

    If you need an old IEEE488 cable or whatever, one post on Facebook and you'll have one.

    I got rid of my Dyson - it was just gathering dust, and my theremin. I hadn't touched it in years.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I think this proves you can throw things away...

      "I got rid of my Dyson - it was just gathering dust"

      Isn't that what it's supposed to do?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I think this proves you can throw things away...

      "my theremin. I hadn't touched it in years."

      Dammit. I've only just caught that. Nice one, Simon.

  49. Huw D
    Thumb Up

    Internal hard drives with dust, fluff and shit on


    Scans perfectly and describes every old HDD I have in my "box o'shite".

  50. David Roberts


    Nobody so far has admitted to hoarding serial cables.

    Does nobody remember the halcyon days when with an Interfaker, a roll of ribbon cable, a box of assorted size male and female connectors and a soldering iron you could rule the world?

    I am still awaiting the call. Box(es) of the stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Serial?

      "Nobody so far has admitted to hoarding serial cables."

      Out of my 64 x 35 litre storage boxes lining the garage wall - one box is full of serial and parallel cables. Plus the various permutations of RS232/ISO2110 DB type plugs and sockets to do all manner of reversals, crossovers, emulations, loopbacks, gender changes and 25-9 pin conversions. Probably a breakout box in there as well.

    2. Mage

      Re: Serial?

      I've even got D9 to DEC not quite RJ45 connectors for RS232 over CAT5.

      I think I've every sort of serial cable and adaptor.

  51. Richard_Sideways

    I still have my old Amstrad 1640 with EGA and twenty MB HDD in my safety deposit loft...

    ... OH YES! READ IT AGAIN! ...


    One day, I'll sell that sucker and buy me an island!

    1. Mage

      Amstrad 1640 with EGA

      I've an upgraded PCW8256. I tried it recently and the screen lit up. I'm not sure I tried the right CP/M floppy. Surely it should still go?

      I took it in a soft bag to NY once for a demo. Works on 110. Irish customs seized it on return till I faxed them the Irish receipt.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Amstrad 1640 with EGA

        The drive belt is the usual failure on a PCW with 3" drives - they can be bought for a few quid from ebay or other places. Otherwise it should be fine.

  52. jelabarre59

    Just ONE of those USB floppy drives? I must have ten of them (at least). When I still worked at an IBM site I used to troll the electronics recycling bins. Nowadays, if I happen to be visiting, I need to put some of that stuff *back* in the bins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the office we occasionally had a large bin for a few days for old IT kit disposal. I always labelled U/S hard disks as "Broken - does not work". They were invariably snaffled out of the bin by someone unknown - and probably ended up in landfill when the label proved correct.

  53. JeffyPoooh

    My old hardware is kept alive and on-line

    iPhone 3GS - charged and connected to wifi for old times sake

    iPhone 4S - ditto (still used for Find My iPhone checks of missing family members)

    Original iPad - ditto

    Blackberry Playbook - ditto (still beeps for email)

    MS Surface 2 (RT OS) - ditto (still very useful)

    Windows Phone - ditto(lights up for FB Messages)

    Several Sony PSPs - ditto

    It goes on and on, dozens of them.

    If my early-1980s Tandy Radio Shack Color Computers had wifi, they'd be online as well.

  54. holmegm

    Ah, the Iomega ZIP drive ... I remember that, the vast, vast portable storage space! Had one of those for ... well, a very long time after I used it for anything.

    I had a no name Taiwanese laptop from the 90s until I think 2012. Could only bear to get rid of it when it wouldn't power up anymore. To get the CDROM in it to even sort of work in Linux (in the 90s), I had to guess at memory addresses and tell a seemingly random CDROM driver to use them. Those were the days ...

  55. Speltier

    TEK 525? HeathKit IO-10? Complete set of 5150 software still in shrinkwrapping? SR-50? thousands of floppies (shortly to be tens of floppys)? memory ranging from 16b bipolar to 8GB sticks (not counting flash, but yes UV erase EPROM is counted)?...

  56. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Somewhere I have an early Nokia Communicator Superb build quality (IOW size and weight of a brick). All it needs is a new battery but can you still get the original credit card sized SIMs?

    1. Mage

      original credit card sized SIMs

      Not a problem. you can cut up an expired bank card or Sky viewing card.

      I have some that SIMs popped out of so I can read phone SIMs on a full size ISO serial port reader (Needs Win98).

  57. antman

    Storage media

    The many 5.25 and 3.5 floppies I have from the 1980s/90s are still readable today, whereas several CDs I burnt in the noughties now give read errors or won't mount at all. I like the robustness and reliability of old kit. The 486 which houses the 5.25 drive and two IDE hard disks running DOS and Win 3.11 is still going strong, although it could do with a new CMOS battery to save having to enter the date & time whenever it's powered up (not often!). I keep it for running old games and other stuff which works best on real hardware. It came in useful a few years ago when a colleage needed to retrieve some software from 5.25 disks.

    1. Mage

      Re: Storage media

      Writeable CDs and DVDs are not as long lasting as Flash. The dye fades. You can kill them in days to months left on a windowsill. Pressed ones are OK though the reflective layer might corrode.

      An old HDD powered down beats tape, which beats Flash which beats dye based writeable CD /DVD.

      The MO disks might be good for long life, last 3.5" size was maybe 250M? Far better than the rubbish ZIP drives.

      1. antman

        Re: Storage media

        "...rubbish ZIP drives"

        I have an IDE ZIP drive (built in to a PC) and a portable one that connects via the parallel port. Neither have given trouble (no click of death) and the few 100MB disks I have, again, are still readable. Admittedly, I haven't made much use of ZIP but it did come in handy recently. I have an ancient laptop running NT4 which contained some data I wanted to move and using the portable ZIP drive on the printer port was the only way to do it. Would have been impractical using 3.5 floppies, there was no USB port and network access was not possible for other reasons.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Storage media

        "An old HDD powered down beats tape, [...]"

        I used to keep hibernated drives in an office cupboard. When I retired I cleared the cupboard and tried to erase the disks. A couple of relatively new ones would no longer power up - so had to be taken apart and the platters physically wrecked beyond redemption. The whole lot was then considered clean enough for the security department to take away and finally destroy.

    2. BostonEddie

      Re: Storage media

      You know you can buy a wafer battery from your local dimestore for like $1 or less instead of the few bucks the OEM wants? If you're not into electrowelding, use heat shrink to keep a good connection. Works for me.

  58. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Some day somebody will need it

    I put all my old tech out on the sidewalk. When the day comes that it's needed, somebody else can dig it out of their closet.

    The trick is, of course, to dump everything related at once. Dump the floppy drive after the floppies are copied. Dump the USB 1 cables and the USB 1 devices together. It guarantees I won't be the one needing the legacy tech back.

  59. David Roberts

    Me again.

    I didn't mention the Atari 520 (or is it a 1040?) STE in the loft somewhere with 4 Mb memory which was scrapped from Sun workstations, an externat HDD (8") in a box the size of a stack stereo component (I think the drive was ESDI) plus colour and mono screens, games and office utilities (I learned spreadsheets on a Lotus 123-alike. Backwards compatability means the commands still work today), plus a Lego compatible robotics kit and a load of Lego (which may well be worth more than the computer). Oh, and somewhere there is a dot matrix printer to go with it.

    I'm scared to fire it all up in case it doesn't work.

    Oh, and on a non-computing front I had rickets as a kid (blame rationing) so my parents bought a sun ray lamp. Still in the loft. Works by creating a mercury arc light with real mercury. Puddles of it. Looking at the wiring I would be reluctant to fire (!) it up now but it is still a bit of awesome technology.

  60. Roopee Bronze badge

    Hardly any mention of Software...

    I’ve got lots of the stuff already mentioned (Zip drives, SCSI, ISA cards) but also “rare” software that will obviously be “very valuable” one day... Lotus Improv anyone, floppies and manuals? Or Borland Quattro Pro for the more prosaic among you?

    Tip of the day - I thinned down my huge collection of PC mags by ruthlessly pruning down to just one from each year, thereby giving me just a little stack a couple of feet high.

    1. holmegm

      Re: Hardly any mention of Software...

      Roopee, good point bring up the hoarding of software.

      I used some stacks of 15-20 year old software boxes found in the office to build my first standing desk ... the boss then bought me a real standing desk, not seeming to appreciate the aesthetic appeal of my creation ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hardly any mention of Software...

      Gold Box Games. Original 5.25" disks, in the boxes, with manuals. Probably worth a small fortune to the right collector.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always feel guilty about throwing old but perfectly functional stuff away. Trouble is that it's worthless and no one else wants it either so like everyone else end up with a whole heap of useless crap.

    I did at least throw away my collection of ISA/MCA/AGP cards along with the big box of memory a few years ago.

    Thankfully I had no one calling on me for an ISA parallel port card shortly afterwards.

  62. antman

    Talking of old kit

    My memory has been jogged - someone made a business of using old kit years ago.

    In the 1970s I worked for a company who used both analogue and digital technologies. As we moved over to digital the analogue machines were retired but the companies who bought our (geophysical) data sometimes wanted it reprocessed using the latest techniques. Of course, they had the original analogue recordings which we could no longer read, having disposed of the old equipment. The recordings were on magnetic tape and some were in a strange format, like 6-inches wide and a yard long. We had to send them to another company who must have bought many of the obsolete machines knowing there would be a market for these conversions of old media to digital.

    1. BostonEddie

      Re: Talking of old kit

      "...As we moved over to digital...That's how I got my two Tektronics oscilloscopes and my Heath RF generator. Used to have a GenRad audio/RF generator but two guys helped me move it out of the house.

  63. Rolly_Poly

    4 x pages of comments about modern stuff peeps have kept!

    My 1950 Bush Radiogram - valve powered natch - no longer works but my Sinclair QL and Amstrad 1640 both function as they did the day I bought them new.

  64. Sudosu Bronze badge

    For old SCSI, find a musician

    Old synthesizers may be able to absorb some of your old SCSI kit

    One of my regularly used synthesizers is a Kurzweil K2000 circa mid 90's that has a floppy drive built in to read some of the sound banks and to store sequences (I think). It also has a narrow SCSI port on the back so you can attach a hard drive to it or maybe even a zip drive.

    I have others that take older memory cards (come to think of it, camera folks may be interested in those too).

    I think the problem with the SCSI stuff is that your mind says "I know I paid $200 for that damn six device cable back in the day so it must still be worth something to someone somewhere."

    I had a bucket of BNC T connectors on my desk at work a few years ago so I made a giant T-Rex out of them, maybe we can turn our junk into modern art.

    Confession time.

    Other than a stack of old useless PC's and about 10 paper boxes full of miscellaneous cables and cards my collection includes;

    - Commodore 64, 1702 monitor, 2 x1541 drives, a hundred 5 1/4 disks of games and a dataset; come to think of it I have a 128 as well. Both of these would make good retro synthesizers...if I ever dig them out and set them up.

    - a Tandy Intellivision knock off

    - an original Atari

    - my 486dx2 and the 14" CRT that came with it

    - Original NES

    - boxes of vacuum tubes, and not the good useful amplifier kind either...

    - Install disks for Windows 3.1 through to Windows 10..I think I liked 3.1 better

    - Dozens of hard drives from 300MB on up...I will eventually harvest the magnets and toss these thinking I am not wasting them by taking out a useful part at least.

    - many many old IT books from programming assembler on said Commodore to TCP/IP for Dummies (like me apparently), to Metaframe Xp and Windows Xp (maybe I can heat my house with these?)

    - Original boxes for many of these things, just to make sure they take up even more space

    - Video game boxes for PC, most of the games I have on Steam now and do not need the boxes or the media, but I keep them just in know....umm...REASONS!

    I won't tell you about the old/useless car parts I have in the garage...that is a much longer list, though keeping several Haynes manuals for modern vehicles such the Pontiac Fiero or Dodge Omni are sure to come in handy some day....right?

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: For old SCSI, find a musician

      If you want to use an old sampler/synth and the floppy drive has died, I can thoroughly recommend the HxC floppy to SD card emulator :

      Alternatively on the cheaper end, buy a Gotex emulator followed by the revised HxC firmware.

      For narrow scsi, there's SCSI2SD. Above that, there's Acard, at a considerably higher price.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For old SCSI, find a musician

      "[...] maybe we can turn our junk into modern art."

      A friend has a wall decoration of a framed board from a 2nd generation mainframe. The discrete components and hand-wired memory toroids have pretty colours and an aesthetic layout.

      1. H in The Hague

        Re: For old SCSI, find a musician

        "The discrete components and hand-wired memory toroids have pretty colours and an aesthetic layout."

        Great idea. I always fancied the having the control panel of an IBM System 360 (about the same vintage as me) as a wall decoration, but haven't found one so far. However, I have inherited some of my late father in law's vintage electronic components which are much more photogenic (above-mentioned pretty colours, etc.) than modern ones. Might get the macro lens out one of these days and photograph them.

  65. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Selling/buying retro stuff

    Can I encourage everyone here to use places like, or if you want to give it away,, if ebay isn't a viable alternative.

    You'd be surprised at what still sells.

  66. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    IT Gadget Freebies

    Got the odd Powerbank or two? Don't throw them away - they make ideal Christmas presents.

    Oh, wait..

  67. BobChip
    Thumb Up

    Keeping old kit? - YES if it still does it's job.

    OK, I am guilty of almost every behaviour identified in previous posts, and possibly some quirky ones of my own. But I will make a case for keeping SOME old kit. For example, I have an old Minolta 35 mm film scanner, for which Windows support was dropped around Vista time. However, it is recognised by Mint 18 and still works perfectly well. It is probably far better built than most modern equivalents costing £00s to £000s. Why throw out anything that still works? Linux OS seems to have a remarkable ability to breathe new life into (some) old kit.

    OK, so I am Scottish and traditionally tight fisted, but it is my money.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Keeping old kit? - YES if it still does it's job.

      Psychologically it's probably the investment factor that stops us throwing old kit out. It's pretty well established that we value losses higher than gains*. So we're more averse to writing-off value. That kit represents considerable investment and we don't want to admit that it's gone into the black hole of "progress".


  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still have some really old gear I've had for 30+ years and it wasn't new then,but it still works so who cares. CB radios modified to go on 10m amateur bands, a baycom I built (diy ax25 packet radio modem), a CF era ipaq running familiar linux with the CF jacket, my nokia 9000i's, zx81 and onwards computer stuff, a couple of 47u racks that I need to clean the really obsolete stuff out the way in (pix's, 10bt baynetworks switching gear, some terminal servers that are AUI with aui adaptors, some sparc's, netras, disk shelves, scsi crosspoint switches, lto drives and all sorts).

    But... I live somewhere where property is dirt cheap, and it all just lives in a spare house in the garden, and I do genuinely need things out of there from time to time when tinkering, so its not eating anything, on the really rare occasion someone does need some legacy hardware its there, or available to power up and test something, and its not harming any kittens. Some of its so old now its attained curio status (the double height mfm hard disks that I use as door stops for instance, and the aformentioned nokia 9000i's etc). I'll just wait until its worth my time to ebay then sell it off now :-)

    Hoarder? more like just can't be bothered going through it all :)

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Significant others do not understand !!!

    It is not the value of the old kit that is the reason you keep it, it is that you once needed that stuff and it has been used to save your neck 'many a time and oft'.

    Once it was leading edge or just a very clever way to solve a problem.

    Now after the passage of time you feel it is 'wrong' to discard it in a skip like an old banana skin.

    It deserves to be useful one more time ...... so you lovingly 'file' it with your other old kit, waiting for that day when it can be useful once again. [Wiping away a fond tear ..... ;)]

  70. Gel

    Old electronic test equipment.

    Often old but affordable and decent electronic test equipment like spectrum analysers uses old computer technology. IDE drives, floppies, 30 pin RAM, parallel printers etc. You want the equipment to work, you need to maintain the old stuff. It is not possible to upgrade.

  71. Smody

    That camcorder story actually happened to me, a month ago, except that I was both the hoarder, and the bunch of colleagues. I was trying to think of a way to give away a Sony Handycam, when I discovered that I had numerous cassettes dating back to 1998. So I got them all on hard disk, and all it took was buying a new battery (I bought 2, just in case) with a charger, and a Firewire 400 to 800 adapter, and a Firewire 800 to Thunderbolt adapter, and external storage (spinning rust, of course), and software to make it easier.... Sigh. Instead of de-hoarding, I added more.

  72. David Given

    A while back I decided I had too much useless stuff and had a big clear out. I regret it daily. So much irreplaceable, interesting old hardware, gone like leaves in the wind... Never again.

    Regarding floppy drives: I am, for my sins, the Debian maintainer for ufiformat, the magic tool which you need to format disks in external floppy drives (no, fdformat doesn't work). And just to prove me real hardcore credentials, I have just built a floppy drive controller to allow me to read exotic disk formats, such as the weird-arse 256-bytes-per-sector GCR encoding used by Brother integrated word processors. Fun stuff.

  73. AndrewDu

    I have several PCI-bus Token Ring adaptors.

    Oh, and one of those hub things that the "hermaphroditic" connectors go into.

    They were only known by their IBM four-digit machine number iirc, and I am too lazy to go up to the loft and see what it was. But those readers of a similar vintage may remember...

  74. StuntMisanthrope

    A new list...

    I need one of those, USB 1.0A to satellite JDAM cables. Is this your first day? 3.5" drives, Cisco routers with cables and a Blackberry clutch. Hands off. #yesofficeritsanecoboiler

  75. BostonEddie

    Oh, I suppose I don't really need those dozen or so 386/486 laptops...though I still might trash out the motherboards and build a bunch of Pi laptops instead from the old keyboards and screens. But I'll keep the DG1 and someday I'll restore it. Promise. And what about my 5 1/2 inch floppies, complete with drives for my Autocad 11 with two drawing tablets? And yes, I do have a couple of 3 1/2" external floppy drives, one internal for my Win98 SE (for my music synth an MIDI) software, still useful, and one external for my IBM (before it was Lenovo) and several hundred floppies including systems backup for my win95. Then there's my 8-track desktop with several dozen 80's vintage tapes and my CoCo II with the assembler cartridge. Pity they wouldn't let me keep my IBM 360 to heat the house. The 4-channel stereo, the pair of 386 motherboards...They'll pry my 12500 internal modem out of my cold dead hands! Oh, and my 1922 Sears Neutrodyne, with the horn speaker. And those dozen or so books on obsolete software--the basic principles are still valid!

    Well, off to my bedroom in the garage. TTFN.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Well, off to my bedroom in the garage."

      No chance - that's the first area to be sacrificed to dry storage space. The bath might be free - if you aren't storing the coal there. Otherwise it's the back seat of the car parked outside - or a tent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Otherwise it's the back seat of the car parked outside - or a tent.

        It was when I pitched the second tent in the yard that they came for me, and took me off to the happy place.

        The psychologist quickly diagnosed my problem, too tense!

        [Thank God for the mask of anonymity, for the PUNishment could be more than I can bear!]

  76. BostonEddie

    Oh, look! I found my stack of old monitors, one of which I still use on my Win10, and my dot matrix printer for my CoCo and my three or four DVD units! Maybe I can use them for HiFi audio record/playback? Several four channel auto radios, a four channel auto radio synthesizer...What treasures there be here!

  77. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    French burglar contact details

    If anyone has his number I'd be grateful - I think I need my house done over by him. If he can just give me a call before he arrives as I'll need to book him an extra van or two ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: French burglar contact details

      An extra van?

      Consider yourself lucky. I think he'd need a dozen container ships to get rid of the crap that my place has! :(

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    less of an issue with software, as long as you have the disk space to spare, but i've learned never to delete any of the following:

    - old copy of windows xp

    - startup disks

    - scsi/ata expension card drivers

    - generic atapi cdrom driver

    - firefox offline installer

    - hirens boot cd iso image

    - non-sse2 variants of the useful essentials

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I sold some old stuff on ebay.

    the buyer contacted me complaining this or that feature didnt work (i hadent tested). I gave them a full refund.

    honestly i was just glad to offload the items. i hate throwing stuff into landfill. broken stuff, sure, but not things that still mostly work. someone will find a use for it surely? or if not, i'd prefer someone else carry the moral burden of throwing things away. its an existential hell for me.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It belongs in a museum

    If you do feel that any particular bit of kit really is too old to be of any piratical use, then perhaps you could offer it to The Centre for Computing History which is building up a collection of working older systems.

    1. spiny norman

      Re: It belongs in a museum

      I sent The Centre for Computing History my Franklin Rex organiser, since I no longer had a PCMCIA slot it would fit into. They were embarrassingly grateful.

  81. Hazmoid

    My storage cupboard of tech

    Many 5 1/4 inch floppies, 3.5" floppies, numerous IDE and Sata HDD , a number of cordless keyboards and mice, complete with usb/ps2 connected wireless dongles, various telephone cables and rj11 adapters,

    Laptops and ones that are spare parts only.

    My wife keeps asking me to sort through it but I am loathe to throw anything out, having experienced the "have you got?" question, days after the council rubbish truck has been.

  82. spiritburner

    tosh libretto 100ct

    i I am looking for a screen for the above toshiba any joy at all please

    thanks Neil

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like