I discovered Linux in about 2001. Weirdly, I was in Tanzania at the time and didn’t have a PC of my own to install it on. That had to wait until 2003, when, as a postgrad on a tight budget, I bought a cheap, ex-corporate Dell Latitude laptop. It had one USB 1.0 port and no built-in ethernet. Yes, it was a longtime ago.
A truly amazing range of laptops, they had a modular drive system, which meant I was able to get a zip drive relatively easily. And that was important because at the time you needed a SCSI card on a desktop to connect to most Zip drives. And I needed Zip for my GIS course. Big files.
Laptops, at that time, also relied heavily on PCMCIA cards for commuincations, be that 56k fax/modems, ethernet or, gasp, wireless.
I imagine most people have their “hardware geek” phase a little earlier than I did. Over the course of 2003/4 I had a fantastic time shopping on eBay for bargain laptop drive modules and various comms cards. They all had to be Linux compatible so lots of careful research was required.
Fast forward to today. Well, I still have loads of this stuff, including the PCMCIA cards shown. I haven’t had a laptop that would support them for about two years. Why have a kept them?
Mainly, I convinced myself that they had some value to someone. Until recently, I had no idea why. Then I started thinking about why I was finding it so hard to get rid of them.
I realised that I felt that, somewhere, there was someone that would get as much pleasure from fiddling with this tech as I did in 2003. At the very least I thought by keeping them I might at some time recapture that “golden” time in my life.
In reality, these things are technologically worthless and ten a penny on eBay and my personal circumstances have changed beyond recognition. I barely have time to write this blog, let alone tinker with ancient technology for hours on end. Also, even if I had the time and the hardware to fettle with, I don’t know if I’d even enjoy it! I have moved on in so many ways.
So, now I know why they were important to me, I do need to let them go. They’re a physical reminder of time that can’t be recaptured and shouldn’t be. It’s better to remember that time fondly, than imagine it might some day come back.
And, besides, if such hazy days did return, in say, 25 years, they’ll be way better things to tinker with!