BOFH Visits the Land of Retro Computing

Episode 8 So I’m rummaging in the Pit of Despair – that is, the Computer Reserve, when the Boss wanders around, no doubt attracted by the tractor beam of obsolescence.

“Look!” he said, pointing to a piece of silverware on a shelf. “Is it an M1330?

“An old laptop,” I said.

“Yes!” he gasps, pulling it from the shelf. “I had one when I worked for BT.”

“20 pounds and it’s yours!” I say.

“20 pounds? »

“Yeah, it’s still there because it has book value, like all the other junk in this room. »

I quickly look at the underside of the machine.

“Oooooh, blue inventory tag – it was purchased between 2005 and 2009 – The bad years.”

“Bad years? »

“We had a Beancounter boss who re-priced our IT assets up and then lowered the depreciation rate – probably because a bonus was hanging on it. Later, when we tried to change it, auditors raised concerns. severe tax implications.”

“And what did our chief accountant say?”

“Oh, he had left the company at this point.”


“In an ambulance, as it happens.”

“I… so I can undo this?” asks the Boss lustfully.

“You could – but remember those tax implications. Purchase business for a small fee allows the business to depreciate in value and recognize true value as an asset being sold.”

I have no idea what I just said, but the boss swallows it.

“How do I do that?” he asks.

“I’ll ask around,” I said, putting the laptop back in place and leading the Boss out the door. “I’ll get back to you in about half an hour.”

The only person I will ask is the PFY and he will want his 50% share – or 5 pounds after my transport costs.

“There is a big market for old computers and their components,” says the PFY. “Put the word ‘retro’ or ‘steampunk’ on your eBay listing and saddos will be everywhere like a rash.”


“Oh yeah,” he said. “People like to relive their glory days. There’s a guy I know who got a VAX-11/780 simh only to finish playing the dungeon he started 25 years ago.”


“And it will be 20 pounds,” I tell the boss, handing him the machine.

The money changes hands and the boss turns to leave…

“Is that… a PS/1 consultant!?” he asks.

“What, that old thing?” I ask, “accidentally” pushing the case so the boss can see the back.

“He has a SoundBlaster card and the CD!!!” he gasps, risking getting wet.

“If you say so.”

“Is it that…”

“On the asset register?” I ask “Yeah, someone bought 10 of these to test work from home in the mid 90’s. It was so successful we ended up with 10 of them in the stash about six months later.”

“YOU HAVE 10!!!!!”

“10 of the base units, yes, but only two monitors.”

“What happened to the others?”

“Oh, they were disposed of responsibly.”

“Oh,” the Boss sighs.

“Yeah we piled them onto a trailer and then kept speeding around the Elephant and Castle roundabout until the trailer was empty.”

“That doesn’t seem…responsible.”

“Things were much simpler back then – ‘environmental responsibility’ meant not dumping them in the same place we dumped the Data Generals.”

“Where was it?” asks the boss.

“Into the Thames. And we only dumped a couple of them. But then we stopped doing that.”


“Yes. They managed to refloat the ferry, but it never steered right after that.”

“It was so dangerous. Didn’t you take any precautions?!

“Sure. We punched out the serial number tags before we left the office,” I said. “Anyway, do you want this PC or what?”

“How much?”

“I could leave it for you to…let’s see…”

I tap on my phone like I have a calculator app running.


“One hundred and twenty pounds! gasps the Boss.

“Well, 117, but I rounded up.”

“I’ll give you… 95.”

“Can I call a friend?” ” I ask.

“Take it or leave it,” said the Boss as he played hardball.

“Guess I’ll take it,” I said, as the Boss handed over more money from his well-stocked wallet.

I move the machine towards him, which reveals…


An estimate of the money left in the boss’s wallet later he leaves the chasm of despair with a trolley loaded with old computer equipment – with no memory of the conversation he had with the manager two weeks ago when they talked about their favorite computers of all time.

I moved some “Thames quality” material so that my next “mix” would “accidentally” highlight a TRS 80 Model 100, an Apple Lisa and a Dayglo iMac G3.

Now it’s just a waiting game until the tractor beam inevitably attracts our director.

I look busy waiting…

#BOFH #Visits #Land #Retro #Computing

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