ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Your Home Computer Alarm Clock —

So, if you needed some sort of incentive to start going through your collection of old home computer crap and send it to me or someone else to digitize/curate it, here you go.

It’s now 30 years since 1977. 30 years since the real send-off of the “home computer” era, where sales are measured in many many thousands and stores selling them are selling toys and clothes down the aisle. Obviously there are many precedent computers and home computer-like models before 1977, but by 1977 people are catching on that these things are going to take off and you better make some space on your shelf.

30 years is a long time. People don’t always effectively store things for 30 years. In 30 years many things break down. Floppy disks don’t wear entirely well; I’ve received collections of them and found a 10-40 percent failure rate. Luckily there’s a lot of overlap, but that’s still quite a bit.

Paper fades, machines die. Stuff rusts out. Batteries do that crazy thing where they turn into the Alien and barf liquid brown death over everything for an inch around them. You’ve kept this crap because it was part of your history, part of what you enjoyed, part of what made you what you are. But it’s now the 21st century. We’re in flying cars and it turns out that Skynet showed up but it’s OK because all it wants to do is sell you shit. And your home computer stuff is disappearing.

Please consider a rummage through the parents’ basement on your next trip home. Consider opening that file folder of printouts of old stuff, whether it be BBS messages, film, video, books, you name it. This is your warning sign; I’ve stopped getting stuff that’s made it through and I’m starting, just starting, to see stuff arrive in a crash-landing fashion, or a few months past when it should have.

I and others have ways to deal with this stuff. Some of it is still quite common. A lot is not. I can put you in touch with people who can take your stuff if you don’t trust me or want someone specializing in your stuff. But please, you’ve been holding this stuff for decades and you’ve got to make your mind up with what you want to do with it, because Time is about to make the decision for you.

Clang. Clang. Clang.

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  1. LateBlt says:

    If you want people to send you stuff, how about a mailing address (even just a P.O. box) that they can send it to?

  2. Jason Scott says:

    I’d prefer people chat with me about what they think I should have and whether I’m the right destination for the “stuff” before they send it.

  3. JK says:

    Very well, chat with you how? IRC, some IM? I have a bunch of old computers (Apple IIe, Commodore 64, Tandy CoCo) and stacks of floppies that I wouldn’t mind donating, as I can’t bear to throw them away but have no use for.