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Friday, August 04, 2017

To toss or not to toss?

Now that I'm officially retired I've been cleaning out my office at the university and transferring all the important stuff to my home office. I'm taking advantage of this opportunity to throw out everything that I don't want any more. Eventually I'll have to vacate my university office because it's due to be renovated and transferred to another department.

Some stuff is easy to toss out and some stuff is easy to keep. It's the other stuff that causes a problem. Here's an example ....

These are the manuals that came with my very first PC back in 1981. I know I'll never use them but I'm kinda attached to them. Are they antiques yet?


  1. Replies
    1. ....and another. Seriously, old DOS manuals? We long ago tossed the docs for any computer bought before the millenium, and I have zero nostalgia for anything Microsoft. Now a classic UNIX manual on the other hand....

    2. On the other hand if you still have one of the IBM 101 keyboards from that era hang onto it.

      IMHO still the best keyboard ever made.

  2. eBay them. Someone might pay well for the nostalgia.

    1. Pay, yes, but not all that well (I just looked on eBay). Someone once estimated at 1/3 of all the microcomputers ever sold were still in the hand of their original owners, stored in the attic or basement. That means that classic microcomputers are much easier to find than we might think, and they aren't the rare treasures that we imagine. Same for their manuals.

      I have a set of three users manuals for the IBM 650, a mid-1950s business mainframe with vacuum tubes and storage on a rotating magnetic drum. It was the first computer model that IBM sold, and for many U.S. universities it was their first mainframe. The manuals were left in a lab at the University of Wisconsin and I saved them when I was learning to program on the next mainframe that the university bought (a CDC 1604).

      I just looked for those manuals on eBay too -- they would probably bring in a few hundred dollars total.

  3. When I retired, I set aside a half day to allow current grad students to come by and claim any books from my shelves that they might want. I reserved the right to say no. There were only a few cases when I said, "No, I want to keep that one". I was pleased to pass on to students things they were interested in. Things neither they nor I had an interest in were easy to recycle.

  4. I was saving the floppies that I used for my masters data, thesis drafts and drafts of my first publications. I finally threw them out when I realized that the 5 1/2 inch single sided floppies couldnt be inserted into any computer made in the last 15-20 years, and that they were stored as Wordstar and Supercalc files.

  5. When I cleaned out files on my office I found old notes, text, and programs, from a class if had on machine language programming on a pdp-10.

    I figured if there was ever a need for people to do that again there would be too much trouble for me to be involved. I suggest the same for the dos stuff.

    William, my dissertation and early stuff is in the same type of disks. TeX files. No more useful than wordstar.

  6. 20 years ago I retired and looked at a file drawer of old class notes from my undergraduate years. One old notebook was from a class taught by an elderly professor who have poorly fitting dentures. I sat in the front row and when he lectured small sprays of spittle landed on my notes, which we written in blue ball point pen ink. 47 years later those pages were like a chromatography demonstation; little halos around every droplet of spittle. After adding a few tears of my own I threw out the whole drawer.

  7. I used to teach machine language programming on a pdp-10. My favourite instruction set of all time.