|Here be geeks.|
Through the 1990s the warehouse, unfortunately, succumbed to homogenization. Gradually desktop computing took over from custom hardware and what was once a bizarre assortment of obscure telecom gear morphed into just another bunch of superannuated desktops.
I'm incredibly lucky to have had the chance to take some of that old gear home during that pivotal period of change in the world of computing. Growing up, my suburban basement was filled with pieces of these relics -- teletypes, an enormous WANG word processor, daisy-wheel printers, relay banks, electronic charting devices, stereo equipment, and more.
Free Geek of course deals almost exclusively in computer gear and most of what comes in is middle-of-the-road -- neither new nor old enough to be exciting. But occasionally something pretty strange comes in. When that happens, a volunteer will fall in love with a piece of old gear at Receiving only to have his or her heart broken when it's generally scrapped, functional or not, for being unsaleable. For a long time, there was a museum collection but it grew to fill whatever space it had -- first a corner of the warehouse, then an outside storage locker -- and nobody quite knew what to do with it.
Of necessity, FGV is currently pretty ruthless -- the mandate doesn't extend to a museum and there is simply no room for the stuff to collect. (Incidentally, if anyone wants to spearhead a better policy, please bring it to the fg-general mailing list! We're all ears.)
On Thursday an old industrial computer came in. Interesting, yes. Unusual, yes. Valuable, no.
|Pentium-class industrial computer|
Nerd-out: Industrial computer: ISA passive backplane motherboard. Pentium (90mhz or so, probably) CPU with integrated video, SCSI, etc. on an SBC (Single Board Computer). Two Fujitsu 3GB-ish hard drives, two tape backup units, and a LCD and control panel that probably conformed to an obscure industrial standard but wasn't anything I recognized.
Disassembly difficulty: four skinned knuckles out of five.
|Backplane, cards removed|
It's pointless to try to sell this kind of thing, but if one is interested and present at the right station at the right time, one might get the chance to be the last person to appreciate its existence by tearing it down for scrap metal. It may not live on in a museum, but this is the nerd's equivalent of giving a Viking funeral.
|Scrapped. And ever-so-slightly dusty.|
Of course, I'd love to see Free Geek Vancouver partner up with an organization that can house and exhibit the really notable stuff that does come in occasionally. (Granted, this one probably isn't it.) But until then, I'll try to eulogize a few things here.
Farewell, old soldier!