Goodbye, Windows 3.1

I finally pulled the plug on my first serious computer, a Pentium 486/Win3.1/Word 6 desktop I’ve had since 1994. The decision was long overdue; I’ve been using a laptop exclusively for more than five years, but I had a major affection for the old Windows machine. It never once froze or had a hard drive crash, and when I bought it, Word still came with a book-length hard copy of the manual. They just don’t make ’em like that any more, folks.

The computer still worked, although it made an awful groaning noise, sort of like the people in our house when they have to get up before the sun on a January morning.

Since I am almost ready to replace the old computer’s replacement, and since there just is not room in our house for a sentimental attachment to vintage hardware, the day came earlier this month when I took a deep breath, booted up the 486 one last time, typed format c: at the DOS prompt, hit Enter, pressed Y at the warning that this operation would destroy everything on the disk, hit Enter again, and the deed was done.

I felt like I’d taken the shotgun back behind the barn to put old Spot out of his misery.

And then I hauled the carcass downstairs, along with its monitor, keyboard, billiard-ball-sized trackball (in a zipper bag with manual and software on a 3.25″ floppy), most of the manuals, and software on CD and two sizes of floppy.

I did keep the Word 6 manual. It still explains headers, footers, and section breaks better than any after-market help book I’ve ever seen.

Younger Son contributed an old TV to the pile and helped me load everything in the car. We took the lot to Goodwill, which has partnered with Dell to recycle any brand of unwanted computer and computer accessories at no cost.

I posted the old laser printer on Freecycle. I had so many responses that I almost regretted not trying to sell it first. Almost. The idea was to de-access as quickly and painlessly as possible, and you can’t get much more painless than Freecycle. The first person who responded showed up for it five minutes after I set it out on the porch. She sent me a nice thank-you email, too!

And then I spent a day dusting and vacuuming and rearranging and deciding what books I could live without. After ruthless culling, now almost every single writing and/or reference book I have fits into the available bookcase space.

I still have a pile of paper three inches high that needs to be filed, but I’m confident that I can knock that off by the end of the month and free up another two feet square of surface area.

And maybe by then, I’ll know why I had to do this early in August instead of later.

© 2011 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Tech Tips, The Writing Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Goodbye, Windows 3.1

  1. Anne M Leone says:

    Wow, go you! It feels so freeing to get rid of some of that stuff, doesn’t it? I’ve been doing quite a bit of cleaning and donating lately, too. But my books still all don’t quite fit in their shelves… =)


  2. tim eisele says:

    It is kind of hard to completely ditch an old machine. For a long time, we just did piecewise upgrades of our old PC, until finally the only original part left was the monitor. Then we both got laptops, and really haven’t used it since. I suppose I should dispose of it sometime.

    So, do you not know why you did it now rather than later because someone told you it had to be done now? Or because the spirit suddenly moved you to do it now for reasons that you do not fully understand?


    • Anne Bingham says:

      Oh, lots of reasons, Tim. I needed the space, Goodwill developed the recycling program, I had a block of time to do it, it was too hot to spend much time outdoors, I was using the laptop mostly downstairs where it was cooler so I could leave stuff piled on my desk while I triaged. Also, there were arthropods getting way too comfortable in the corners, and I couldn’t dislodge them without moving the equipment! As long as I was moving it…


  3. I find decluttering stories so inspirational! It’s a constant battle – us against our stuff. You’ve got me looking around my office thinking, what can I get rid of?


  4. I had to do that a while back and it kind of hurt, but oh how much happier you will be!


    • Anne Bingham says:

      I’m not out of the woods yet, Catherine; I still have an entire closet to tackle in the same room. I did free up half a shelf getting rid of obsolete software, but now it’s in a laundry basket in the upstairs hall.


  5. MaryWitzl says:

    I loved that comment about Old Spot. I’ve got a hopelessly broken kitchen chair from Japan that needs to be put out of its misery, but I can’t bring myself to do it — yet. When I do, it’ll bite the dust with some of our faithful old computer dinosaurs.too. I feel so callous, but like you, I can’t afford the room.


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