IT Employment

Hoarding old tech tools? Let us see it!

We're looking for some old tech tools to feature in a TechRepublic gallery. Here's the kind of stuff we're looking for.

It seems like everyone loves retro stuff, especially if it's something a person actually remembers using. In that spirit, I'd like to put together a gallery of old IT tools. It doesn't have to be an old computer that you still have lying around, but we're looking for even rarer stuff like that Quattro Pro software box you have inexplicably held on to. Or all the issues of Byte magazine. Or maybe you're using a datasette as a paper weight (that is, if you're still using paper!)

So dig through all your old stuff before the folks fromHoarders show up, take a picture or make a scan of it, and send it to me at trol@techrepublic.com. (Put the words "old stuff" in the subject line.) We'll get all the submissions together and put them in a nostalgic gallery. Thanks, and happy digging!

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

14 comments
jpnagle59
jpnagle59

...I was an iron worker, installed bank and weapon vault doors for Mosler, Inc...from '78-'98...after breaking my body many times over, I said to myself- 'gee, maybe you need to stop all the heavy work and get smart...I latched on too- now my best friend, John - who was the smartest tech I knew in the company...well it worked well, I would do hardware, he would do the 'super-tech' stuff, and I would learn by tattooing myself to his shoulder while he did his thing...From that time, I have a Timex Sinclair 1000, in the box, and the tape drive too. I have many of the old EEPROM's and 1k memory chips from card key systems...I have a Compaq laptop which I bought in Ohio at the home office- I will have to dig it out for the model # as I have grown old and feeble and don't remember the model. It has the Blk/White screen 20meg hard drive, 64k ram, and I have the Windows 3.1 box and disks that came with it...it's weight was/is around 9 lbs, dry. It has the 'mouse' that attaches to the side of the computer and you use your thumb to move the cursor...battery life- 2 hours, maybe...my favorite piece of hardware, one that I still use- right here on this computer- is an old Glidepoint trac pad (serial) from Cirque...bought it in '82...or should I say the company did... It would be, what 30 years old? The middle of it is losing some of its 'capacitance sensitivity', but still hums right a long...has the 4 buttons...they are still available, and I highly recommend you getting one- you will never go back to a mouse if you can help it. No wrist problems and you can work or hours with it just moving your finger and not the world like with a mouse...but my pride and joy is my Mark 1, analog Xcelite 4" mini-screwdriver, bought in 1979...been with me from start to finish, flipped many a DIP switch with it, done surgery on things, been shocked, broke things with it, shed blood with it...if you take it and put your finger on the metal part, and touch it on a door nob on a winters day, you don't get shocked...what a perfect tool...

Michael.Slifer
Michael.Slifer

I still carry around my IBM 360 green card and IBM 370 yellow cards. They still have some ASCII/HEX information that is useful. Assembly language not so much.

desizemo
desizemo

In the early seventies, while in the Navy, I was assigned to an office on the USS Constellation CVA 64, where we dealt with every single report turned into us for requesting maintenance on anything that "broke" on the aircraft carrier (we were called the 3M Office - no relation to the civilian company...). One of my jobs was to do the Pentagon Report corrections for the maintenance request document that were entered into the data base with the old in, and that entailed finding the original form, then double-checking all fields on the form, then from an error report, find the individual IBM keypunch card and write the correction on the card, which had to include the specific column (out of the 80 columns...), and the correct code - one card and one column at a time. God forbid one of the S7 computer guys made a mistake on the spaghetti cable patch panel before running the report (on 18 inch wide tractor fed light green and white computer paper), where this report for the ship would run more than 2000 pages... Those were the days, where the UNIVAC was housed in the best air-conditioned space on the ship, and was bigger than a VW micro-bus. Oh, and don't let me forget the tape back-up reels the size of a turkey platter (I actually show Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so that my kids can see what those looked like...!!!). Somewhere in a closet, I still have a box of IBM key-punch cards...

jangugliotti
jangugliotti

Still have an HP 25C programmable calculator that I bought in 1976 before grad school. Unfortunately I left the battery in it for 30+ years and fried the internals. But it was a great tool for its time. I paid about $500 for it in 1976 dollars..could get a pretty nice server for the equivalent price today.

swilder
swilder

I just finished downsizing & moving into my rv to retire & travel. Just gave away/threw away PC, Apple II, Mac hardware, sofrtware, books, magazines, manuals, specialized tools, etc. from 30+ years of selling, installing, repairing, programming those device that we have loved & hated. I do remember or had most everything that's been mention. Unfortunately I did not take pictures of any of it.

a.portman
a.portman

I have an 80 to 120 column converter card for a Apple II and my notch cutter for 5.25 floppies. The notch cutter turns single sided disks into dual sided disks by cutting a square hole in the floppy case. If I remember two sided disks ($10 in the 80's) were twice as expensive. The cutter allowed you to buy single sided disks and use both sides. They never failed after being cut. I have a friend's Apple II hardware manual. We played a lot of Wizards on that machine.

codyspoon
codyspoon

One of my clients that Im working with currently loves to use antiquated hardware and software. For instance they are using Twinax cabling all throughout their factory floor, piggy tailing their terminals with green screen for shop floor employees. There has even been some Windows 95 machines I've come across.

pgit
pgit

A friend of mine has a veritable museum... eg, first generation hard drives, the huge monsters sporting a whopping 5 MB of space. He's got dozens of odd ball adapters, ISA cards and things that connect to serial or parallel ports, including a first generation CD ROM device. The thing has a separate power supply, connects via parallel and weighs at leas ten pounds. He has 586 motherboards in the box. Cassette tape storage, Tandy, IBM DOS and a bazillion other OSs and applications, many still in shrink wrap with the original price tags. A lot f this stuff most people have never heard of. One thing he has in the box is a windows add on to turn your windows 3.x workstation into a network ready client. "Workgroup for Windows, 3.11." The box is about the size of a Monopoly game, but twice as thick. He has a half dozen 10 foot high shelves crammed with all manner of old, outdated and useless stuff, and most of it is in working order. I'd fill an 8 GB memory card getting pictures of all the neat stuff easily. I don't know when I'll get over there next, but if I do I'll try to pick out a few more spectacular items... no easy task because so much of it is unique.

Regulus
Regulus

Still have my 5.25 360/1.2m troubleshooting floppies along with 3.25 720 & 1.4m stuff in my older kit bag. The other day I was looking for some 'Geek Gifts' and found a box with my original Norton 4.5, Dos 5 & Dos 6. Most important was my Original Central Point Software 'PC Tools' on 720 disks. No longer have my cassettes for visi-calc etc for Sinclair zx81. Nice memories, thanks!

sboverie
sboverie like.author.displayName 1 Like

In the early 90's, I carried a box of 5.25 floppies and a box with 3.5 floppies. I worked on a variety of PCs from IBM, Compaq, HP, Epson, Acer and Toshiba. The diskettes were different versions of DOS to fix disk problems, Spin Rite a program that reads and rewrites data so that the magentic image doesn't fade away (this worked great on ST225 drives), Check it- a decent PC test utility and a virus scan diskette that could detect and remove viruses. I also had a few diskettes to load network files and CD-ROM files. I also had another box of 3.4 floopies for IBM PS2 computers so that I had system disks for every model and a diskette with the "options" used to configure PS2 PCs. Among the usual tools was a DIP remover/inserter. This was for those 16 pin memory ICs that were hard to troubleshoot if the PC was a clone (the memory error dis not translate right. This leads to the joke about how many computer techs does it take to change a flat tire, answer just one but he has to remove and rotate all the tires until the car works. We usually were able to identify the failing memory bank and swapped the memory chips one by one, starting the computer to see if it would change the result code and continueing until the bad chip(s) were replaced. The DIP inserter helped prevent the pins from bending and missing the socket contact. The other part of my kit was a bunch of quick reference guides from IBM, Compaq and Toshiba. These guides were constantly updated with new revisions and got thicker.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

A month or so ago, I was cleaning out a closet in my office and came across my old briefcase that almost never left my side for the better part of 20 years. I don't think I've used in in at least a a dozen years. Add plenty of those little stickers that you put on 8" and 5.25" floppies to write-protect them. I just threw out a stack of those, along with those little label stickers that always came with floppies. A tool kit was not complete without those odd-sized torx screws that Compaq used to use to keep the uninitiated out of those cases that were built like tanks. I also carried tubes filled with all the common sized screws to secure cases, drives, cards, etc. Also a "disk notcher", that would punch a hole in 720K floppies to turn them into 1.44M floppies. In storage, I've got a collection of "classic" software & manuals. PC-DOS 1.1 and other original IBM issues. My favorite rare museum piece is "Context MBA", which was the first "integrated" piece of business applications for the IBM-PC. It was revolutionary, but quite expensive, complex, and very slow; thoroughly overtaxing the limited capability of the first generation IBMs. (It was ported over from the ill-fated Apple III, and ran under the relatively bloated UCSD-p system) Dealers had to go through training in order to sell it. Relatively few bought it. When the quick, nimble & cheaper Lotus 1-2-3 (tightly written in assembler) came out about a year later, everyone soon forgot about it. I also still have classic marketing items from the age on the bulletin board of the office. I'll photograph some of those.

robo_dev
robo_dev

75MHZ 80486 with a 170 MB hard drive and 4MB RAM. Have both the Ethernet and Token Ring Sniffer PCMCIA interface cards. That sucker cost around $10K back in the early 90's with the Sniffer Software being at least half of the cost. It runs DOS 5, which is not Y2K compliant, so in the year 2000, the dates rolled to 100, thus today it shows the date as 12/1/111.

djones
djones

On my desk is a box of 3 Tandy Single sided diskettes, complete with Radio Shack receipt. Let's not even get started on what's in the office closet at home. ;-)

robo_dev
robo_dev like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

with the brown Radio Shack disk sleeve. Believe it or not, it was in the DR vault for a large company, for sometime about 30 years ago, this app was part of their DR plan.

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