Saving "Antique" Computers

I found this letter in a magazine about the importance of saving “antique” computers. I found it quite interesting and thought others here might as well.

What’s really fascinating about the letter is that it is from the February 1977 issue of BYTE!


I remember asking my grandfather about old cars (he was a master mechanic and worked on many of them) and why they were so rare. He said that, at the time, the cars were looked at as junk - unable to perform and hard to maintain. People didn’t want them. So most of them got scrapped.

It’s the same for old computers. At the time that they should be saved, they were looked at as junk - unable to perform and hard to maintain. (One thing to remember was the time when the IBM-PC and compatibles were popular and the #1 feature for a computer was IBM-PC compatibility. All others were look at as non-useful.) So those old computers were junked.

I still kick myself for not picking up my Dad’s C64 and TRS-80 Model 100 when we cleaned out his stuff. He was somewhat of a pack rat, but even he didn’t want to store an old TRS-80 Model 1 or Commodore PET at the time.

As a teacher, he GAVE those old computers away to students who couldn’t afford a computer at home so that they would have something to learn to program on.

Yes. I know the feeling and talking point of computers not being the hasle worth of saving. I guess this is a talking point of like 95 to 99 percent of all humans. History have told us, that people only want the newest new, that can be used for whatever the average day require of you. Basically speaking. Archeologists of any trade, have a hard time preserving stuff. Might also be the reason why museums had such a problem being established back when people started talk about what a museum was. I mean, before any museum was ever created.

And this is were we come into the picture. If we pass down our machines to our children and learn them how to take care of the things and repair them, then in the future, people will look to our children in envy.

I love old machines and computers, and I still find that I have to fight this. You couldn’t give me a computer from 2013, for example, unless it were a particularly interesting or rare piece of equipment. It’s not old enough to be historically interesting, and not new enough to be useful to me. Yet in 2035, I’ll be saying “why did I let that Core 2 Duo go!” (or whatever would be appropriate for the age).

I never had any particular fondness for PC compatibles in the 90s and 2000s, even though they’re what I used every day; yet now I’d love to have the PCs I replaced as I upgraded through those years.

I’d like to think I’m getting wiser as I get older, but it may be that I’m just becoming a hoarder. :wink:

I only keep 1999/2003 stuff if it is Win98 compatible. XP are such a dull.

Phase 1: New and shiny
Phase 2: Well worn and comfortable
Phase 3: Low end and dull
Phase 4: Junk
Phase 5: Old and cool

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Also, sometimes you never know. When I was moving about 9 years ago, I actually dumped a pristine C64 box and a 1541 box as well. They were sitting on top of a cupboard since I first unpacked the devices. Obviously I personally had no use for them, and when I looked up eBay, C64s were still selling in the single digit ranges, box or not. So I thought, this is quite reasonable, there must be still millions of them out there and they will never go up in price, since there will be always several sold for everyone who might be interested. – Now, this was not the best projection ever made.
On the same occasion, I got rid of my Sharp PC-1211, since the display had degraded to an unusable state. (The black display decease.) Obviously, no way to fix this, broken beyond repair. – That is, until recently…

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