ok this just kick's ass (was RE: [rescue] The onyx godness (first pictures))

Skeezics Boondoggle skeezics at q7.com
Thu Jan 16 12:00:21 CST 2003

On Thu, 16 Jan 2003, Gerhard Lenerz wrote:

> What are the experiences you guys made when talking to scrap dealers? 
> Do they even listen if you try to buy some of their stuff?

Actually, that's a good point.  Here in Portland I know a guy who has a
fsckin' huge warehouse literally packed to the rafters with old stuff -
really stinky old stuff, most of it, and a very odd collection, but there
are some real gems in there.  He's a broker/recycler/scrap dealer, and a
fairly quirky guy, but he generally doesn't deal with the public unless
you know someone who knows someone... he still runs an old IBM mainframe
and deals in old DEC, DG, and IBM iron.  What he can't sell/trade to other
brokers he usually ends up scrapping.  Sigh.

Last time I was there (been a couple of years now) I bought an old DEC
4-rail rack that was covered with dead bugs, like someone had been driving
in circles through a swamp at 50 mph seeing how many carcasses they could
glue to the thing... so we threw it in the back of a pickup and drove
through a car wash.  Cleaned up nicely!  After they dried out, the fans
and PDU still worked, too!  :-)

The most interesting find (that I still kick myself over not rescuing) was
a nearly complete VAX 11/780 - "Just needs an RL02, I think" - but at the
time there was no way I could have handled a machine that large.  Hell, it
might still be there...

Anyway, because he had a long history in the computer industry and loved
big old iron himself, he saw that I had a huge interest in and respect for
those machines, so we struck up a friendly relationship.  I very nearly
picked up a 750 from him (my favorite little Vax)... If you just happen to
be so lucky as to find someone in your town who you can forge ties with,
that's a win-win-win:  you get a source for parts/machines, they make a
few extra bucks, and maybe it's one less bit of junk rusting in a landfill
as well.

> > Now also I found out it might be fairly easy to get old hardware from
> > University's. 
> Depends very much on your contacts. At the universities in "my" town I 
> failed so far in making any helpful contact. 

Hee hee.  I did a stint in academia and acquired a bunch of goodies that
way after they'd been written off the books and decommissioned.  In some
cases we had to obtain permission to give away stuff that had been
acquired through DARPA grants and the like, so there were "Property of US
Government" asset tags stuck on 'em.  (It was with particular glee that we
planned to smash to bits two former Air Force-owned SparcPrinters, for
reasons not unlike those portrayed in "Office Space"... but they're STILL,
for contract reasons, sitting on a shelf taking up storage space...)

Portland is a Very Small Town.  You never burn a bridge here, because word
tends to get around... so I've always kept in touch with previous
employers (most of the time I still have gratis accounts), and let them
know that I like to collect and preserve old machines.  There are now
several places in town that call me first when they want to get rid of
anything.  (Still have dibs on the SC2000E I used to manage for my last
boss. :-)  It's all about the networking, man.

I do wish there was a big central clearinghouse for putting up "wanted"  
postings, something as visible as Ebay, where people who have something to
get rid of could quickly search a list of interested parties and decide if
there was sufficient interest in posting an auction, or just contacting
those parties directly with an offer to sell/donate their stuff, rather
than just pushing it off on to the local scrapper as the path of least
resistance.  I bet a lot of great stuff ends up being tossed and destroyed
simply because nobody wants to think hard or go to the effort to try to
auction it.  I just wish I could put up a poster at every scrapyard in the
country, on the 0.0000001% chance that someone might spot something
obscure that I want...

So, for the record:  I'll buy/trade/accept donations of ANYTHING related
to the PERQ workstations, anywhere, anytime.  Or my other current
obsession, the Cray CS6400. :-)

Ah, well.  Should do some "work" now or something.  Verbosely,

-- Chris

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