Where do old computers go when they have outlived their usefulness? Are they relegated to our garages’ dusty corners? Are they left by the side of the road for others to pick up and scavenge? Are they shipped over to China, India, or Pakistan, where they end up polluting the waterways and residing in huge e-waste sites? Or, do they reach recycled computer nirvana, where they “renewed” and reborn as new computer parts?
Apple has a recycling facility in Cupertino where residents can recycle their old “computer components and peripherals, fax machines, VCR’s, stereo equipment, home copies, and DVD players.” For some reason, they don’t take TV’s nor monitors with cracked glass.
I got a Power Computing PowerTower Pro (a Mac clone) at the end of my senior year in college. At the time, it was the ultimate machine, fast, expandable, and cheap. Like most computers, it served me well for several years — I wrote many of my Newton applications on it — before I gave it to my sister when I bought a PowerBook. The tower was returned to me about a year ago, and it’s been hiding underneath a desk this entire time. I did try to boot it up one day, but nothing happened. The old workhorse had finally breathed its last breath.
I tend to keep a lot of my old technology instead of recycling it or selling it on eBay. For instance, I have this box that contains several Palm organizers, Newton handhelds, a Blackberry, and various handheld peripherals. I know that I’m never going to use them again, yet I continue to hold onto them. Why is that? There’s the history between these pieces of technology that I can’t easily let go. Although they are (and were) just tools, I tended to ascribe more significance to them. There was a shared history between these devices; letting go of them would have been like letting go a piece of my history, of me, with them.
With the PowerTower Pro gone, however, I realize that I don’t miss it that much. Once you get over that hump, letting go becomes much, much easier. As Felix says, it’s time to simplify my life once again!