Tuesday, 19 May 2015


An e-mail I recently received from an anti virus company had some good suggestions on re purposing old computers instead of tossing them out. Basically, they can be turned into home theatre systems, storage devices, recipe computers in the kitchen, refurbished as a spare, or given to somebody who can make use of the PC.

These are great ideas but I have a few more. For example, many people like older versions of programs better than the new ones. Why not keep the old PC with its old programs and use it for dedicated tasks? That way, you can still get what you need done. In my case, I love WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. All three of my memoirs and a score of freelance articles were written by me with that antiquated-but-effective program.

Another use of an old computer is as a spare if the new one is down or somebody else is using it. I have several old machines and while I'm cleaning the hard drives or downloading some huge file, I can continue writing on another PC.

I'm not into games but I'm told by gamers that they like the old ones for their retro look and the challenge of playing them. The only game I play is a DOS-based game called The Mice Men. Basically, you try to get your mice men in the blue shirts across the maze of cheese cubes before the PC gets all of its red-shirted players to the other side. It's a challenge and the mice men are cute. I find it quite addictive.

I have a feeling that really old computers, like my Vic-20, will be valuable to collectors someday. Since old toys, bubble gum cards, and similar cultural artifacts are now fetching high prices, why not working machines from the eighties? The old circa 1991 Apple computer somebody gave me might also fetch a good price from a collector, especially since it still works.

I hate tossing anything away that still is useful and I hope many other folks feel the same way. Second hand shops are a great place to find old equipment. Not only is it a way of reducing the land fill but it breathes new life into old machines.

You can read about the three books I wrote with WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS at the Bruce Atchison's books page as well as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.