Dumpster Diving

From: J. Maynard Gelinas <maynard_at_jmg.com>
Date: Sat Jun 21 23:36:02 1997

On Sat, 21 Jun 1997, Brett wrote:

> On Sat, 21 Jun 1997, J. Maynard Gelinas wrote:


> > expensive Sun hardware... my bosses give me little time to play.
> Let me know the next time you guys *clean out the stockroom!!!!*
> I am sure you can have some of that *expensive* Sun stuff end up
> as *worhtless to repair* items after I get done looking it over 8-)

        Hehe. This stuff won't be thrown away for several years.
However, there are a *lot* of sparc 1s, 2s, and Sun 3/xx equipment
floating around out here. I just missed a sparc 2 base for $270 out at
the M.I.T. flea two months ago - and I was there, like, at 9am start, and
at the table within 15 minutes of opening. Damn! That sucked. Sparc 1s
can be had as cheap as $70 bucks base. I know this isn't really on topic
for people looking for 4 and 8 bit computers, but you have to admit these
kinds of prices are significant considering what this box will do. Where
I work has several Sparc 1s and IPC/IPX's floating around still in
production. Most of them are bootp servers, X-Terms, or snmp log
grabbers. It's amazing that a computer that old is still so useful.

> Well, if you want, I could tell you all about my KIM-1 and SYM-1, but
> ya know, it's not like having one 8-)

        Yup. I seriously thought about the AIM deal that was floating
around, but I have an opportunity for an original Apple II. Keyboard
works, the system prom boots, but unfortunately he lost the disk
controller. He still has the old full height 5 1/4" drive, however. This
thing is quite dirty, and a few keys will have to be cleaned carefully
with alchol, but it looks good. I'm curious to know if I need to find
anything other than the floppy controller. Didn't Microsoft Basic come on
a prom card? Or was that on the floppy controller card? Or was there at
one point a mixed controller/BASIC card? This guy has the original
Interger Basic... cool.

> > PS - when I was fifteen I built a PDP-11 from scrap parts out of DEC
> > dumpsters... I'm sure you can do the same. I've seen this junk at flea
> > markets, in commercial basements left by tennants long forgotten, at
> > garage sales, in open dumps, on the sidewalk on trash day, and still find
> > myself washing coffee grinds off my tee shirts, after a bit of dumpster
> > diving, holding some neat piece of old junk I remember.
> Ahhh, the joys of diving! We could probably get a pretty long thread out
> of this subject! However, most stories will end up being about the
> leavings of bodily functions than about neat things we have found 8-(
> On that topic tho - I got several radios that way, and all my CGA screens
> where arrived at thru various *scrounging runs* in the dead of night.
> I can always find some little hunk of an IBM PC that way. And 8" disks.
> And broken printers - one of my other hobbies is robotics, and you can't
> beat a printer that got tossed for parts 8-) You should also try to stay
> informed of regional repair centers. I used to live near a Radio Shack
> repair center. If they got something repaired but the person never came
> back for it or didn't want to pay that much for the repair - it went on
> auction for the repair cost. Most other repair centers do that too.

        I can't believe anyone can find 8" disks wihtout having to
special order them. What are you checking, sheet metal factories? Now,
what are you using to drive the print step motors? Do you have an
interface to a PC, or are you going to something more esoteric? Do you
machine the skeleton, or build it from parts like an erector set?

> Also keep an eye peeled for companies that are going under. Like J. says,
> check the closets and basements. Just wait until they move out and then
> search the dumpster, then afterward, call the landlord and ask to see the
> office space *for rent* and see if they left anything behind. Don't get
> excited but say you have a friend/relative who might be able to use
> *that thing* and pick it up for free right then and there. The guy/gal
> thinks they are *bonding* the client/sales connection - HA!

        I just dive the dumpsters, I'd rather not make a scene with some
landlord. If it's in the trash, I figure it's public domain. Around
here, poor folk (like I have been throughout much of my twenties) rely on
trash scores for chairs, cheap tables, whatever. However, I live near
Harvard U. and you have no *idea* what some of these students will thow
away! And the computers... I have a friend that *just* collects 3b1's.

> One problem around here is - if it has a waste sticker on it - it is
> property of the local government 8-( (So I use the *Midnight Run*)
> Better than having to landfill it - right?

        You know, I may have a dissenting view here, but I think some of
this stuff *ought* to go in the landfill. Sure, it will get destroyed,
but landfills will be our legacy 500 years from now. It would be
wonderful for a few high quality specimens of every type of computer made
to survive in museums, but we also want to give our future archaeologists
some reasonable sample of system distribution geographically. Oh well,
disagree if you like.

        J. Maynard Gelinas
Received on Sat Jun 21 1997 - 23:36:02 BST

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