23/09/2020

billbaud.net

Life in 8-Bit

Secret Confessions of a Tech Hoarder

The following transcript is from a very controversial and highly chilling interview with a self proclaimed retro tech hoarder.  But a warning… like an old CRT that has not been discharged, what you are about to see, may shock you.

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

BB: Good morning

TH: Good morning

BB: So you call yourself a retro tech hoarder?

TH:  Correct.

BB:  And you prefer not to be identified?

TH:  Corrrect.

BB:  Why is that?

TH:  Well, it’s embarrassing.  My friends just think I’m into Warhammer.

BB:  OK.  So can I ask when you realised you had a problem?

TH:  It probably all started when I saw an ad on eBay for a TRS-80 Model 100.  Are you familiar with it?

BB:  Oh, the first notebook computer that nobody’s ever heard of?  Yes, I’m familiar with it.

TH:  I thought it would be fun to own.  You know, I’ve always wanted one since I was a kid.  So I bid on it and won.

BB:  That must have made you very happy.

TH:  You would think so.  And it did, for a while.  Then I started looking for accessories for it.  I found out people had been doing things like hooking it up to Twitter, and even surfing the web on it.  Well, that’s if you consider some basic http request being displayed on a small dot matrix LCD “surfing the web”.

BB:  Go on.

TH:  Then of course I started buying old Radio Shack catalogues, magazines that featured the TRS-80 Model 100.  Of course those magazines just triggered more nostalgia, those old magazines had these wonderful ads for other retro tech. That’s when I realised something terrible.

BB:  What was that?

TH:  I couldn’t stop at one.

BB:  * awkard nodding * 

TH:  I began to remember how much I wanted an Apple IIc when I was a teenager. Back then I had an Apple II clone.  I couldn’t afford an Apple IIc.  We weren’t millionaires. So I started bidding on them on eBay too.  And I won one of those.  Unboxing that Apple IIc gave me incredible feelings… it was like being in love for the first time, but this time I knew it was real.

BB:  And I’m guessing it didn’t stop there.

TH:  Of course not.  It was not enough just to own a IIc, it didn’t come with a monitor, so I hooked it up to a modern LCD.  But it just didn’t feel right.  I began to have an overwhelming craving for… 

BB:  Yes…?

TH:  For a CRT.  

BB:  Wow.  It feels like not that long ago you couldn’t give away a CRT.

TH:  I know right.  Anyway, I got one and hooked it up to my Apple IIc.  It was a beautiful thing.  It’s grey, so I’m thinking of painting it the same colour as my Apple IIc.  But I guess I should retro-bright the Apple Iic first, because obviously that changes its colour from a dull yellow, to a slightly less dull yellow…. Oh… Sorry, I’m babbling now.

BB:  No, I understand.  The decision to retrobright or leave a machine in its original form is one that should be taken seriously.  It’s a big decision.  Please, continue.

TH:  ok.  Well once I had it all up and running, I couldn’t just let the Apple Iic just sit there like a museum piece.  I wanted to get games for it.  So of course I started seeking out floppy disks.  And then that turned into an addiction all of its own.

BB:  * nodding quizzically * 

TH:  I soon realised that floppy disks were hard to come by.  You can’t just walk down to your local office supplier and ask for a 5.25 inch floppy disk.  The Millenial behind the counter would have you thrown out for obscene behaviour.  So I asked my friends to look in boxes, in their basements, to ask their grandparents to see if they had floppies I could have, or even buy.

TH:  At first my floppy needs were very specific.  You know, I was happy with Single Sided Double Density.  But then, it’s never enough.  I started wanting Double Sided High Density.  And then even 5.25 inch disks made me feel like I was missing out.  So I sought out 3.5 inches, and even an 8-inch floppy…  just to remember how it felt to hold one in my hands.  And of course, what’s the point of all these floppies, if you have nowhere to store them.  Floppy disk storage containers are rarer than hens teeth!  It was like an endless cycle!  * crying *. I’m sorry, sorry.

BB: It’s ok, it’s ok.

TH:  Sorry.  It’s just been a bit of a journey.  So, of course pretty soon, I started thinking about what it might be like to own other early Apple devices.  I found myself regularly visiting the recycling centres, and scanning Gumtree classified ads.  Macintoshes, iMac’s, e-Macs, first generation iPods, iPads, Apple Watches. As you can see, it didn’t take long for me to build a collection.

BB: I can see, it’s very impressive.  I can really empathise.

TH:  I even bought a damn old mainframe computer, just so I could brag about it at parties.

BB:  You get invited to parties?

TH:  Ummm.  No. But I’m sure I would, if…

BB:  Ok, well thanks for your…

TH:  You know what they don’t tell you on all those forums about retro tech?

BB:  That the Nintendo Wii doesn’t classify as a retro device?

TH:  No…

BB:  That everyone should own a Sinclair ZX Spectrum at least once in their life?  Actually, they do tell you that.

TH:  No!

BB:  That the Dick Smith Wizzard is the most underrated…

TH:  No!  It’s the storage space.  It’s how much room everything takes. It’s ridiculous!  And it’s not even the huge shelves you need for the old computers. Those old computers can’t just sit on a shelf with your teapot collection.  No, they are usually really heavy, and the shelves need to be deep and allow for cables to go down the back.  But that’s not all.  It’s the boxes and boxes of cables and power supplies that you need to keep these things running.

BB:  * Nodding * 

TH:  Do you know how many of these things use modern connectors?

BB:  Ahh, no.  Tell me.

TH:  None.  None of them do!  SCART… Monochrome video… S-VIDEO… EGA, CGA, VGA… DVI… RF Modulators! It’s crazy!  And that’s just video connectors!  I have a massive box dedicated just to video connectors… Don’t get me started on DIN plugs, Bus mouses, Centronics cables, RS232…

BB:  Interesting, anyway…

TH:  And power supplies… I have a huge box just for power packs.  And a seperate one for power cables!  You see, the devices themselves need power, and then the peripherals need power, and the test equipment needs power, and the multitude of other supporting devices need power…

BB:  I see.

TH: And what about media interconnectivity of these devices?

BB: I, ummm…

TH: No one tells you this when you start your retro tech hobby. Do you know how how hard it is to get a file from the internet into one of these old machines? 

BB: Hard? 

TH: It isn’t easy. 

BB: Yet, I’m sensing that you love it.

TH:  Yes.  Yes, I love it.  I love the feeling you get when something actually works.  I love the sound of 8-bit video game tunes.  I love the noise that a floppy disk drives makes when it boots up.  I love it when you talk to someone and they say ”I used to have one of those!”.  I love the retro computing and gaming community which has a seemingly reduced number of trolls compared to other social media communities.

BB:  Is that true… because…

TH:  And the games.  Ah the games.  Karateka, Swash Buckler, Dig Dug, Space Invaders… so simple, yet so wonderful…

BB:  So I’m guessing you won’t be giving up on your love of retro tech just yet?

TH:  No.  No way.  Not unless some other highly addictive hobby comes along.  Is Pokemon Go still a thing?

BB:  No.  No it isn’t.

BB: So there you have it.  Some chilling confessions from someone obviously caught in an era.  It’s difficult for many of us to understand why anyone in the year 2020 would so fondly want to look back to the past.

BB:  You’re not a Trump supporter are you?

TH:  No.  Oh this.  It says Make Amiga Great Again.

BB:  Thank F*%$# for that.

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