ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

In Realtime: We are barely halfway done —

I’m kind of broken.


It has been a very productive day. I have been here since 8 in the morning. We have boxed over 400 boxes of material. There have been about a dozen and a half of volunteers working like mad to put this together.

It seems to have adequately impressed the owner. He has been basically giving us free reign to do all this work. He does not however, he does not complain. He’s allowing the manuals to be saved.


I am writing this from the car, sitting in the passenger seat with my shoes off. I have been standing for 12 hours. I’ve been giving introductions and tours and explanations and theories and everything else that comes when you put a bunch of strangers together with a single-minded purpose.

They have been too good. Way better than anybody deserves in the way of volunteers. They have been helpful, kind, inquisitive, dedicated. They have come from miles around.






Sometime around 11 a.m., it became very obvious that the 252 banker boxes we have bought or a laughable underestimation. We were going to need more. We are going to need much more, and we were going to need it now.

I made a call to the Uline Company, and asked for the impossible: I wanted 8 pallets of boxes, delivered within the day. And within four hours, they arrived.





To deliver 1052 banker boxes within 4 hours, combined with the cost of the boxes themselves, was $4000.

I made another call out to social media, and the payPal has helped eat most of that  (paypal is

We had a lot of people come through, and we have made enormous strides.

I rented 2 large storage units nearby. I don’t think it’s enough.

We have a scattering of people who will come tomorrow to help us try to rescue what’s remaining. I’m not sure if that’s enough.

If you know somebody who can come tomorrow, especially during the day, it would be heavily appreciated.

This is very hard work. So hard, but we are saving hundreds of thousands of pages in tens of thousands of documents. I’m not sure the 25000 manual feature number is accurate. It’s very hard to tell what numbers are real and what are the anymore. All I know is that I can’t really feel my feet or legs, & I am sitting in my car telling you all this.


If we were to drive away with what we got now, it would be an amazing feat. It would be a huge amount of history, pulled from many many different decades, with information and aspects of all sorts of electronics companies.

But before they start throwing things out tomorrow, & I have been told that is likely to be the case, I want us to get as much as humanly possible. I want to have rescued all of these wonderous works as best we can.

I’m calling out again for anybody who can come to 2002 Bethel Road, from 8:30 a.m. well into the evening, and help us save this history.

I want to sleep a week.

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  1. Jamie Tyson says:

    You’re doing a great thing. My friend Kurt said you guys are working your asses off- wish I could come down and help. Keep up the good work!

  2. Wish I were there to help 🙁 Unfortunately I’m some thousand of kilometers away! 🙁

  3. Markus says:

    In all of my having to do with retro stuff and digital archeology and preservation and the like, I routinely think to myself how literal and appropriate the exclamation of “Holy crap!” frequently appears. This is one such moment. 🙂

  4. This is a spectacular effort, well done everyone for your hard work and dedication! Thanks Jason for having the tenacity to see this through and seize the day!

  5. ibisumgrav says:

    I applaud you sir, and I congratulate you on having the insight and temerity to see this project through to its completion. The technical world is in your debt.

  6. You are a fucking rockstar. I’m gonna donate you some money from The Netherlands right now!

  7. Bill Jackson says:

    is there some sort of sorting going on? They should simply fill the boxes and move them ASAP. Removing duplicates can be done later, box by box, as can organization. One expect they are already well organised in some manner.

    • Rich Kulawiec says:

      No, removing duplicates can’t be done later: leaving them in would increase the volume of material several-fold and there isn’t enough space to store all that. I processed about 300 feet worth of shelves in the last two days, and probably left 225 feet of material behind, i.e. there was a lot of duplication. Nothing is being sorted: it’s going into boxes in roughly the order that it’s encountered on shelves — and the shelves are organized for the convenience of the business, not ours. (The shelves ARE separated by vendor, however, so most of the HP stuff should be together, most of the Tektronix, etc.) It’s not being cataloged: there isn’t time. The only goal right now is to save one copy of everything possible and get it to storage, where hopefully it’ll all fit and and equally hopefully there will be time to take a few deep breaths and figure out the next step.

    • Church says:

      There is, out of necessity, sorting going on. For some manuals there’s many copies, for others there’s just one, and it’s not always obvious which is the case (e.g., there are photocopies of manuals that are in a different form factor, and there are identical numbered copies that have different page counts.)

      There’s a LOT of stuff.

      Also, space ain’t cheap.

      We seem to be erroring on the side of caution for the most part. (I’ve dumped manuals if they addressed item A and there was one that addressed A or B.) Sue me.

  8. MV Hetzel says:

    More money, I know — but consider a quick craigslist search for temp help (like hiring for help with packing a moving truck for homeowners). Generally several listed — quick response, get as many guys as you need for moving/lifting/loading/unloading. Ask for more money via social media. I’ll contribute again!

  9. jellisii says:

    Prepare for the slashdotting.

    You’re doing $DEITY’s work here. Solider on.

  10. anonydude says:

    I wish I could come down to help, but I’ll certainly send some money to help with the cost.

  11. Apop says:

    For some reason this reminds me of Robert Pirsig more than anything else. Amazing.

  12. You may want to keep some duplicates because if you keep just one and it happens to have a bad page or several bad pages you are out of luck if you only have one. I’m thinking of the Family Computing magazines at which have some spots where parts of pages have been cut out. Also, some of the pages are in the PDF upside down.

  13. Chad D says:

    Consider using an old semi-trailer for portable storage… they can often be bought outright for a few hundred dollars, and transported easily. I’d be happy to help but I’m halfway across the continent.

  14. April says:

    I’m just one person but on my way. I also forwarded request to the umcp ischool to fo a call for volunteers.

  15. John says:

    What a remarkable effort! Hopefully this will result in a payback for those who are investing their time and money as well as for those who will benefit from their labors. Thanks to all those involved!

  16. anjul says:

    What hours are you looking at? I work all day, but I could contribute at night.

  17. Catherine Cramer says:

    Wish I was close enough to help! My husband sent this to me as he knows how I am about trying to save documents (I’m an architectural historian). I applaud your efforts and wish you good health as you continue the work. I would bring cookies too!

  18. A. says:

    I was there today. If you’re in Baltimore or the area, drop by if you can — they’re thinking they’ll be there into the night (10pm?) tonight and it sounds like tomorrow too. Morale is good, there’s a lot of cool stuff to look at, and things are moving. I estimate that in the area I worked on, we’re keeping maybe one in eight books, so the volume of materials to be stored is substantially reduced by the sorting.

  19. Howard says:

    Jason, you and all of your volunteers are the wind beneath my wings! If I were near, I’d be there. Since I’m not, I put another $50 in your paypal. Good luck!

  20. Awesome work, man. Kudos.

  21. petepdx says:

    Don’t bother with small boxes. I see you have a fork lift. Get pallet boxes or similar. Find out who is getting material in them and they would be more then glad to give them to you. Don’t even think of the destination Worse off get some Harbor Freight tarps for a temp holding location. Work some deals with freight transfer sites. Have you had a site down with the building owner ? Show him/.her the response you have had on the Internet, Make him/her famous for giving you time to move the stuff out. A little smoozing can go a long way.
    think OUtSIDE THE BOX 🙂 !

    Oh .. get a rental on a non-road worthy 40 or 53 footer trailer. You should be able to get one for next to nothing, fill it up, and make a deal again with where you got it from or again a freight depot. A few beers and 10 gallons of diesel can get you a cab and its driver.

    Need labor ? Where I live there are places if you show up, you can get guys by the day that wouldn’t
    even sweat over moving this stuff for very little.

    Again think BIG .. not banker boxes way to expensive and time consuming

  22. petepdx says:

    Someone asked about sorting. Just fill the 4’x4’x3′ boxes with even stacks, dont look just fill. Sorting can come later. Think like someone is chasing you, don’t waste time looking behind you, just keep moving.
    A 40′ foot trailer can hold 9 x 2 (on one side) 4×4 pallets if you lucky you can do a 2nd row but to be safe and quick do 4×3′ on the second and close it up with smaller. The last time I looked I could get a 40 for about $500, temp tags around $100 and $100 for a cab/driver.

  23. I guess you’re planning to do it anyway, but I would like to encourage a post-mortem once you’ve all had a good sleep and time to reflect on the experience. It would be useful to have guidance for similar future efforts on different strategies to make these efforts easier or at least tractable.