Let the dead computer scavenging commence!

Date:October 26, 2006 / year-entry #364
Orig Link:https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20061026-08/?p=29223
Comments:    28
Summary:Now that my old computer is up on bricks in the virtual front yard, the scavenging has begun. I got a piece of email from one of my colleagues saying, "Say, you aren't using that PC-2100 memory any more are you?" Why no, in fact, I wasn't. Christmas comes early. (He offered to buy the...

Now that my old computer is up on bricks in the virtual front yard, the scavenging has begun. I got a piece of email from one of my colleagues saying, "Say, you aren't using that PC-2100 memory any more are you?"

Why no, in fact, I wasn't. Christmas comes early. (He offered to buy the memory off of me, but since I had already written the old computer off as a loss, I just gave him the memory. But even he didn't want the 256MB memory stick.)

I've still got a perfectly good Socket A 1GHz AMD Thunderbird, a full-size ATX (not ATX1) case with power supply, a modem (wow, remember those?), a network card, an AGP video card, a small farm of CD and DVD drives... I doubt anybody's going to want to scavenge those unless they're just stocking up in anticipation of their own old computer going bad.

Comments (28)
  1. raomas says:


  2. Mike Dimmick says:

    Modems? We’re still shipping software that uses modems! It’s
    software on (ruggedised) handheld computers, that has relatively low
    volume of data transferred, where the customer doesn’t want to shell
    out for broadband internet access and VPN. In some newer cases it uses
    FTP over RAS/PPP; older software ported from DOS-based handhelds to
    Windows CE and/or Windows Mobile still uses serial protocols directly.

    It makes program upgrades with .NET Compact Framework a bit of a pain though, since .NET CF is several MB in size.

    [Yeah, but this modem came with my Media Center PC! -Raymond]
  3. cK says:

    You could sell the pc2100 memory on ebay.  You could make a about $20.  It doesn’t seem like you need that extra $20 bucks :)

  4. J says:

    “[Yeah, but this modem came with my Media Center PC! -Raymond]”

    Media Center has feature where it’ll show the caller ID overlayed on
    the screen when you get an incoming call, so umm.. I guess that’s
    enough reason to include a modem?

    [Aha, that makes sense then. I don’t have Caller ID so I would never have noticed. -Raymond]
  5. Tim says:

    "I don’t have Caller ID so I would never have noticed."

    Don’t worry.  The MCE team removed the feature in Vista MCE becuase they didn’t have time to press build or something.

  6. Gabe says:

    For a large percentage of America (not Americans), a modem is the only reasonable way to access the Internet.

    I’m going to bet that if you were to point to a random spot on a map of the US, odds are that location does not have DSL available (rural homes are mostly too far from the CO). It is also probable that even if cable is available, it’s just too expensive to hook up (farm houses tend to be very far from the main road).

    You wouldn’t be downloading movies with that modem in your MCPC, but you might use it for things like downloading cover art for a CD you ripped.

  7. Mark W says:

    Buyer/scavenger beware:  there are two types of AGP slots.  This should explain it…


  8. Puckdropper says:

    Sometimes you need the modem and dialup connection still.  You’re not going to switch providers just because your high-speed access is down (with setup fees and contracts, sometimes you can’t).  A modem (in my case, a cell phone talking to Verizon’s network) is the only way to have some kind of internet access.

    There are lots of parts scavengers out there, I’m one of them. ;-)  Nothing’s too old to run and play with for a while.

  9. boxmonkey says:

    [rural homes are mostly too far from the CO]

    Even if they are close enough to the CO, often times DSL providers can’t be bothered to offer service to the area. More insane is that they often use a highly inaccurate computer program to determine if you qualify for DSL. At my old house, I qualified for DSL but my neighbor across the street did not. He was closer to the CO than I was. A year later they updated the database and suddenly he qualified.

  10. boxmonkey says:

    The nice thing about scavenging is that you can experiment with parts you didn’t pay anything for. My girlfriend had an old USB CDRW. It never worked very well and her computer had a built in CDRW anyway, so she never used it (her mom gave it to her for some reason). It was new enough to support USB 2.0.

    I theorized that it was probably a standard PATA drive with a "USB to ATA" adapter built in. She let me have it, so I got to tear it apart and prove myself right. Of course the real reason why I cared about that was because I wanted to add an external USB drive to my system. Not too surprisingly, the USB to ATA adapter works perfectly with my 80GB PATA drive (also scavenged).

  11. When are we going to have an XML schema for indicating "stuff we have" and "stuff we want" and the software to crawl the web and match people up?  Sort of like eBay but distributed?

  12. Greg Arcara says:

    As far as the distance from the CO goes and your neighbor across the street, it is not as much a matter of your phyiscal location but the distance that the wire has to travel. While I am not saying you are necessarily incorrect it is possible that the path for his telephone wires are further from a CO then yours. To top it off distance from a CO is no longer the determining factor of dsl availability. They now have "hubs" of sorts out away from the CO and distance can be from one of those or the CO itself.

  13. slapout says:

    Just autograph all the parts and sell them on Ebay! :-)

  14. Bob says:

    I think you should revisit your blog and whoever caused you the most grief with a memory question (and left a valid email) should get the memory and a certificate of authenticity signed by Raymond Chen.  Likewise with the other parts.

  15. Sven Groot says:

    Nope, not particularly interested in buying.

    If you’re looking to buy some more old junk, I still have an old Asus P4S8X-X motherboard (with a broken retention module so you can’t actually mount a CPU heatsink on it anymore, real useful), a matching P4 2667MHz (no HT, 333MHz FSB), matching no-brand DDR333 RAM (one 512MB stick, quite likely faulty), and an ATI Radeon 9200SE lying around. :)

  16. KTamas says:

    A 256 mb usb drive signed by *the* Raymond Chen….a geek’s dream, hehe.

  17. Jonathab says:

    Sven: I can’t believe people call this "old" – I’m posting this from a PentiumIII/733 machine, bought in 2000. I just don’t feel any need to upgrade it (I do have a moderner laptop).

  18. Neil says:

    Old? I still use a P133 Tecra. Granted, the display needs care to tweak it into an angle where the connections work, and the "mouse" buttons don’t work very well, and the PCMCIA slot needs care after I ruined two wireless cards by dropping the laptop card-down (I think the slot must be the equivalent of butter on toast), and the battery only has a few seconds of charge, and the memory expansion failed, and it’s on its second hard drive, and I can’t get parts for it any more, but apart from that…

    OK, so I only use it for Remote Desktop. Killer App!

  19. Neil: Ah, wireless cards.  When I bought my first PCMCIA wireless card (back when 802.11b was just becoming mainstream, it wasn’t cheap!), I thought I’d be cunning and go for a 3Com device with a retractable antenna.  This plan worked fine for four years, on the one or two occasions I dropped the machine the antenna would just pop right out again.

    Then I managed to drop it on the wrong axis, so it got bent upwards by the armrest on the chair.  Bah.  Now it doesn’t retract smoothly.

    As for old machines, this box is a dual PIII/800 running Windows 2000.  For interactive use, it feels more responsive than any of my >= 1.6GHz machines.  I suspect the I/O subsystem plays a large part in that too, though…

  20. AndyB says:

    The obvious answer is to donate the bits to charity – there are a few that will recycle your old computers and send them to places where a 200Mhz PII is plenty good enough to run everything they need. (now, if only MS would remove licencing for dead OSes like win98, the charity could use them without all that licencing headaches, or installing linux).

    If you only have components, the same charities will be interested as they will always need spares or replacements. And, recycling them in this way is environmnetally friendly!

  21. Sven Groot says:

    Jonathab: I agree with you it’s not terribly old. But it is, for me, redundant. The motherboard is broken (it could probably be fixed by some superglue, but I’m terrible at that sort of stuff), rendering the CPU useless. The memory is also faulty, so the only two components that are actually of any use to anyone are the P4 and the Radeon. It’s not worth it for me to build a computer out of it because I’d have to buy too much stuff to complete it, plus I have no space and no use for a second computer.

    Selling it is equally useless. The Radeon cost me €30 when it was new, it’s worth nothing now. A second hand four-years-old P4 isn’t going to get me much either. For the amount of money I might get putting it up for sale is just too much work.

  22. Klimax says:

    Have old stuff?I would buy it immediately,but shipping to Czech republic would be most probably too expensive.


  23. Matt Grove says:

    Dude, take your old stuff to REPC (http://www.repc.com), just south of the Kingdome, er, sorry, Safeco field. The may pay you (nominally) for your gear, or at least make you feel better about not just trashing it.

    Plus, it’s just so much fun looking at all the old parts they have there for so so cheap.

  24. David Walker says:

    Boxmonkey:  If you are on the boundary for DSL, or you think you should qualify but the phone company’s database says you don’t, you can ask the phone company to come out and physically test the line.  Your neighbor across the street could have gotten DSL a year earlier if he had done that.

  25. Igor says:

    Raymond, considering the place you live, you are probably obliged to recycle that hardware properly, right?

    If so, then it would be advantageous to sell it or even give it away so you don’t have to bother with recycling it.

    [I’ve been giving away anything that still works. But I doubt anybody is going to take the case and power supply… -Raymond]
  26. David Walker says:

    Raymond:  Surely the case and power supply still work, don’t they?  I’ll bet you $5.00 that the case still "works"!

    I happen to need a computer case at the moment… Since I have a perfectly good motherboard that I bought when I thought mine had gone out (it was the PS that went out).

    I’m about to go to the local computer store and buy a case for about $40.  Instead of returning the motherboard, I’m going to build another computer.

  27. Igor says:

    But I doubt anybody is going to take the case

    and power supply…

    Any old computer parts museums near you? :)

  28. Norman Diamond says:

    Several months ago a friend sold an old computer to a recycle shop for 1,500 yen.  I’m estimating that’s because one 256MB PC2100 RAM board was still worth around 1,800 yen at the time, and the shop could find some way to junk the Socket A motherboard and case and other stuff without running into too much expense.

    Anyway you should keep the case, and use it.  It has a Windows XP OEM licence stuck to the outside so you can prove that you’re using the same computer.

    a modem (wow, remember those?),

    I’ve just returned from a place where wired phone lines are unavailble outside of cities, cable TV recently became available but cable internet not, and you get to choose between a modem with cell phone or going without.  We went without.  Even in cities, a blazing 384kbit ADSL line would cost two days’ salary every month, and 56kbit dialup was cheaper.

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