Throwing out old computers

Throwing out old computers makes me sad. Here is why.

Recently I decided to get rid of my two remaining PC towers, and to only use a laptop now on. Partly this was to save on space, and partly it was due to the fact that my remaining PC towers were so old that they were no longer fit for purpose.

One tower runs Windows XP, and was custom built by me to be a gaming rig. It was pretty powerful at the time I built it in 2005, and a few CPU and graphics card upgrades later kept it competitive as a mid-range gaming machine, but the world of computing moves on rapidly and this PC is now obsolete. To make matters worse for this machine, I decided a year ago to go Linux-only from now on (Steam coming to Linux helped1), making the fate of this Windows XP PC doomed.

The other tower runs Linux (Fedora 7!), and I was using this as a development server and a Samba-based domain controller for my two Windows machines (I also had a Windows XP laptop back then). Sadly, the hardware here is even older, and as I am now running the latest release of Fedora on my laptop I no longer need this for development purposes.

Throwing out old computers makes me sad though. I hate doing it. Firstly, I always try to see if there is a kid nearby or a school to use it. Failing that, these machines are now destined for recycling. After taking a backup of the data and wiping their hard drives, they will no longer give anyone the pleasure they gave me for years.

"Throwing out old computers makes me sad...I hate doing it"

For me, a computer is not just a toy or a tool, but is also a diary of my thought processes at the time, as well as a journal of my live. I store my emails here, my precious photographs, the games I played, the music I loved, the websites I built: all of this creative and fun output sitting inside a cold machine that does nothing more that switch electrical currents on and off.

Computers are only cold if they are left empty though. Once you fill them with your thoughts and memories, they have a soul, some of your soul, in them. Try to give them the retirement they deserve.


Computer pile image from Wikimedia Commons:


John Collins

I have been writing about web technology and software development since 2001. I am the developer of the Alpha Framework for PHP, and the personal productivity app. I love open source, technology, and economics.