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