The problems of organizing a computer collection

From: Ian Primus <>
Date: Sun Aug 31 11:46:01 2003

I have been striveing to organize both my physical and digital space as
late, and hsve been trying to reorganize the basement. I have come up
solutions for many of my storage problems, but I would like to hear
what other
people have come up with. I am currently also working on my website
(not yet
online) and hope to have pictures and explanations of storage
solutions, as
well as my collection. I have broken down the basic problems the
collector generally faces when dealing with space. Any input and
solutions for
storage problems would be appreciated.

        As a collection progresses, it grows and expands, both in the mind of
collector and the physical space it occupies. The latter is perhaps the
concern, especially when it comes to a collection of computers.
Computers have
a lot of properties that make them a problem to collect, store and
        - Computers are large. This isn't always true, but they do take up a
        great deal more space than say, stamps.
        - There are lots of peripherals. The computer itself isn't normally
        useful without the associated peripherals, such as monitors, keyboards,
        disk drives, terminals, printers, modems, etc. These peripherals are
        also rather large and hard to store.
        - There are lots of manuals. Computers, especially old ones, have a lot
        of associated documentation. These manuals generally take the form of
        three ring binders... lots of them. The documentation for all the
        software on an older minicomputer can easily take up two or three
        shelves. Manuals are also heavy, most cheap bookshelves can't handle
        - And don't forget the media. Allmost all computers use some form of
        removeable media, which comes in the form of floppy disks, tapes, disk
        packs, cartridges, optical disks, and more. These too must be stored
        organized, and can present problems because improper storeage can
        some types of media, and some media is pretty unweildy and likes to
        off shelves, like nine track tapes.
        - And, last but not least, the spare parts. As the machines get older,
        spare parts become difficult to find, and the only source of
        components tends to be other machines of the same or similar model.
        Therefore, spare parts must be accumulated *just in case*, since the
        chances of finding a part when you need it are slim. This presents the
        additional storeage nightmare of keeping all the spare parts organized.
        Disk drives, circuit boards, power supplies, broken/damaged machines,
        duplicate machines, and assorted parts pose an interesting
        organizational dillemma. Most parts stack poorly, or can be easily
        damaged. They normally need to be kept in some sort of anti-static bag,
        and are much more delicate than the complete machines, which have
        protective cases and can be stacked. Also, inevitably you will end up
        with forty duplicate spare parts, just in case.
        - Oh, I can't forget cables. Almost all computer equipment requires a
        large number of easily tangled, serpent-like items known as cables.
        of these are pretty standard, and can go with almost anything, like
        power cables or RS232 cables. Others are proprietary and make their
        associated device an electronic paperweight if they become lost or
        damaged. Cables are also notoriously hard to store. Anyone that has put
        up Christmas lights can vouch for this one. Even the most neatly
        and coiled box of cables will turn into a hopeless tangle if left
        unattended. All theories of 'cable gnomes' aside, cables provide a
        difficult storeage problem, as they must remain untangled, yet easy to
        access if you are in the middle of working on something and realize
        you need a SCSI cable *now*.

So, what have other people's experiences with organization been?

Ian Primus
Received on Sun Aug 31 2003 - 11:46:01 BST

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