User Input

User Input: I’d Keep A Tumble Weed If It Had a Light On It

My first couple of computers got me through high school and college, so mobility was important. After that, when I was ready for a high powered beast, I bought my first desktop (there was still quite a gap between desktop and laptop and the “luggable” was still a couple of years away).

I still have that machine, a stunning PowerMac G3 in all of it’s blue and white semi-transparent glory, complete with the matching 17″ CRT in the same style and colors. Of course, I’m not actually using it. The machine is tucked away in a closet, but you don’t throw away an old friend like that, even when they’re less useful that the closet space they’re taking up. I couldn’t possibly fathom what I would do with a computer with less horsepower and storage than my phone, and yet I just can’t get rid of it.

What’s your most loved old gadget that is useless but you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of?

[“User Input” is the AtomicToasters Question of the Day™ asking you, the teeming millions, to answer our pressing questions.]

  • My Commodore 64. I really enjoyed that PC. Dad got it from a local hardware store, I actually did some book keeping on it for him one year but he laughed at my methods. Hey, I was like 12 at the time. Got a cool color monitor for it that lasted me forever. Disk drive and had the tape drive. Also had the phone modem. All of it still tucked away in the garage.

    Now I know what I'll be messing with if the weather is bad this weekend, thanks.

    • P161911

      I still have my Commodore 64 and the Commodore color monitor. I even had TV tuner for the color monitor.

      Actually, that TV tuner and a small 5" or so battery powered black and white TV are probably the most useless. Maybe it is time they went to the Goodwill.
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  • SSurfer321

    My 1993 Casio CFX-9800G calculator. It was introduced to compete with the TI-81 by Texas Instruments. It isn't nearly as user friendly or easy to program like the TI-81 but it has a THREE COLOR SCREEN! And menus!

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    I still use it daily and fear for the day it no longer boots.

    **EDIT** Sorry I forgot to read the "useless" part of the question. But I'm leaving this here because I love that damn calculator

    • I have kept the same TI-Idon'trememberthisnumber scientific calculator since my dreaded late-august-things-to-buy-for-school list came in the mail the summer before seventh grade.

      It has served faithfully through my college calc sequence. Everyone else I know bought bulky TI graphing calculators. I got by with my slim green one AND it fits in my back pocket quite well.

  • tonyola

    I still have a Powercomputing Powercenter 150 (Mac clone) sitting in my closet. A 150 mhz PowerPC 604 and 112 MB ram don't go far these days, but it still works. Powercomputing boxes were quite good machines – good enough for Apple to pull the plug on clones.
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    • I've got a PowerTower Pro 225 and a semi-dead SE/30 that I can't seem to give up.

  • acarr260

    I've still got an old bagphone in my closet. I've had it since roughly 1994. My roommates in college (in the late 90's) used to give me a lot of sh*t for it, but it got reception on our farm (where no candy bar phone could get a single bar). At least once per month when we would come back from the bars in the early morning, one of my roommates would grab my bagphone and yell "We need air support!" as he rolled over our couch (into cover apparently). I'm sure that it's useless now… with maybe the exception of calling 911.

  • My first MP3 player, a 6gb iRiver H10.
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    The hard drive made familiar clicks every time I accessed a song and the display was quite nice. I liked it better than an iPod because I didn't have to use iTunes, had an advanced audio equalizer and it had an FM radio that I used infrequently anyway. It only quit when I dropped it on the pavement while out for a run. Now it gathers dust on a place in my shelf but it was a really good player when it worked!

  • I still have my TI-83 from college. It doesn't get regular use now that I have a much more capable HP 33s at work, but that little calculator — with a TI-81 cover and TI-85 battery cover — still sits in the desk drawer at home, ready to spring into action should I get a hankerin' for calculus at home…or, more likely, need to figure out how many feet of baseboard I need to finish a project in Project House Hell.

  • Froggmann_

    My palmpilot pro. It sleeps very comfortably in a Coach case in a filecabinet drawer.

    • Come to think of it, I still have my Palm Lifedrive somewhere. I should bust that thing out and see what I can do with it. 40GB media server?

  • Alff

    Nothing. I'm cold like that.

    If the question encompasses the realm of hand tools, however, I can't bring myself to divest great-grandpa's bit-and-braces or the 3 foot long wood plane that rarely see service. Still have Grandpa's "safety" razor, too. Don't mess with me, or I'll cutcha.

  • Number_Six

    Your mom.

    I've kept almost nothing over the years because I've lived in around 40 different dwellings in 40 years. As much as I dig what technology does for me, I really feel no sentiment for most objects other than my deceased Yashica camera, my long-gone 1989 Mustang LX 5.0 notchback, and the tiny ancient Philips transistor radio I had in the '70s that somehow picked up radio stations thousands of miles from me.

  • aastrovan

    Sliderule in case with instructions,my first computer.

  • The Windows '98 PC that a friend helped me to build way back in 2000 still starts up, but doesn't see the mouse or keyboard anymore. I guess that's because the motherboard is shot (Am I right?). I hate the thought of getting rid of it, though. It's right here. I'll get around to fixing it at one point. However, the 17" Hitachi CRT monitor I bought used at the time, from the University of Utah's surplus property department for like nothing, still works great. It's hooked up to my laptop, and I'm using it right now.

  • dwegmull

    Years ago a friend loaned me or gave me, I can't quite remember, an industrial PC. It has a passive backplane card, a power supply card and a "main card". I think the processor cannot be anything newer than a 80286. It has a non-standard plug for the keyboard. I may or may not still have the pinout information for it. My friend had two of these, so he kept one and I have one. I faintly remember that we had big plans for these, maybe using them to convert our respective machine tools to CNC or something like that.

    I recently acquired a Gumstix based machine, complete with a 4" touch screen. I think it is time to return that older PC to my friend. The Gumstix will take its place and will be my answer to this question 15 years from now when AT finally runs out of questions to ask and the recycling begins…

    • Deartháir

      4 years from now? Hell, we're already recycling them, and nobody's noticed!

  • OA5599

    My wife still keeps me around for some reason…

  • Alff

    If you do, be sure to use the Brownie.

  • tiberiusẅisë

    My original Passport radar detector. In the original box with all original accessories. Waiting for 1985 to come back.

  • Jim-Bob

    I have lots of useless stuff that is just too cool to get rid of. Probably the most useless is my old US Department of Civil Defense Lionel model CDV-715 survey meter (Yes, the same Lionel that made trains also made radiological detection devices for fallout shelters!). I bought it new in box and it came complete with a set of Eveready D cell batteries from the early 1960’s that had never been installed. It even had the carrying strap and manuals as the box had never been opened. Does it work? Sadly it does not and it would cost a lot of money to have it serviced and calibrated. So, it’s just a really cool-looking doorstop. However, the strap at least is useful to me as it also fits my Victoreen CDV 700 6A Geiger counter -which also likely came from a long-abandoned fallout shelter or some government auction. Unlike the survey meter though, it works! I found it useful to confirm that an old clock I had from a B-25 Mitchell had a Radium-painted dial.

    (For those who do not know the difference, a survey meter is only really useful in a highly radioactive situation such as after a nuclear weapon goes off or a reactor meltdown. If you get a reading, you are screwed. A Geiger counter is only useful in low-level fields as the Geiger-Mueller tube becomes saturated in high radiation and may give a false low reading. It also cannot read Alfa radiation. You need a scintillator probe for that.)

  • These printers from Brother are a bit bigger than ordinary regular printers. Most of it has to do with the truth that they can print on 11″ x 17″ pages as effectively as getting a multifunctional printer. There are other printers that are able to print and scan on large pages. Having said that, Brother is the only 1 that gives the same functions at reduce prices.