One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s 4-Way Server

So I spent a few dollars at the company’s overstock sale … but I think I came out ahead. I have always been a “frugal shopper” (i.e. cheap bastard). Every year AMI dumps all the old computer equipment in an internal yard sale. Whatever doesn’t sell is either donated or sold for scrap.

Some of the stuff is gold … some of the stuff is scary … and some of it is a peek into the sordid history of the computer industry.

The sale started Friday at 9:00AM (this is one of the few days my boss gets in before ten). The real scrap hounds had been combing over the scrap pile for days, making notes about where the “choice goods” were hiding. The giant stacks of motherboards, video cards, processors, cases and random parts gave the back of the building a flea market atmosphere. I’ve cut back on my hobby computer habit signifigantly over the past few years, so I wasn’t as eager for the sale as in past years.

But I still had to stop by … just for a minute.

I know this sounds like the stereotypical housewife walking in the door, dragging eight bags back from the mall … “I saved so much money today”. I only spent $17, leaving the sale with two functional motherbords and one working processor. I’ll get to that later.

The most amazing thing is seeing the history of my working life laid out in giant boxes labeled Junk Laptops: $10.00. Leftover bits of laptop prototypes were stacked against a cubicle wall. Most of these off devices were missing power adapters, lacked batteries, or had bundes of wires protruding from their non-FCC certified housings. I started at AMI six years ago in the notebook department, so I was all too familair with the internal workings of these broken dinosaurs.

Stacks of Intel PentiumPro processors, pounds of 72-pin SIMM memory, anti-static bags filled with Slot-1 Pentium II motherboards. Five years ago this would have been a gold mine, now it’s classified as techno-garbage. It’s very easy to feel like a dinosaur in this environment, even if you only 30.

But the deals were there, lurking in the shadows. My two finds were pretty choice. Item #1 is the American Megatrends {{link http://www.ami.com/support/doc/indiumseries803(92501).pdf Indium}} embedded motherboard … $10. I got a chance to test it, verifying that it works. Item #2 is an {{link http://www.ami.com/support/doc/olympus_spec.pdf AMI Olympus}} motherboard with an Intel PII 266 MHz processor … $7. Again, a working motherboard. The Indium was my main target, the Olymus was sort of a bonus.

The other bonus is that I have all the BIOS code for these motherboards, so I can heavily customize these motherboards for my needs. All I need to do is figure out what my needs are.

I do need to buy a case for the Olympus, plus CPU and memory for the Indium … so it’s not like I walked away without needing to spend a little extra money. Some people end up doing very poorly buying old computers (our corporate lawyer spent $350 repairing her $50 “deal” from last year’s overstock sale). Combine this with my recent purchase of a {{link http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2.cgi?PAGE=PROFRAME&PROD_ID=61530 Sony PDA from overstock.com}} and I think I’m doing okay.

So what do I do with my high-tech yard sale purchases? I’m not sure about the Olympus board, but I have definite plans for the Indium. This tiny motherboad is packed with features in an itty-bitty case, so I think it’s perfect for a {{link http://www.chickshardware.com/html/mods/mods.html case mod}}. I’ve already done a pseudo case mod with the Indium, producing the {{link http://www.siliconchef.com/archives/00000159.html briefcase demo}} I use at work. I’ll have to think long and hard about what I want to do with my yard sale stuff.

At least I spent wisely. Many others grabbed all they could find, even if they had no definite plans. Our tech writer bought all of the old laptop prototypes. If he can’t get any of them to work, he’s planning to paint them silver and make artwork out of them. This is the same man that considered tiling his bathroom with used 80486 processors, connecting all of the power pins so he could have a heated bathroom floor for those cold winter mornings.

Hey, anything’s better than just {{link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1839997.stm throwing the stuff in the garbage …}}

5 comments

  1. Barry says:

    Do you sell junk "throw away" laptops for cheap?

  2. Majeed says:

    Hi There Anyof you selling throwing compouter or any of the parts let me know i will take it ok bye

    Thank you…

  3. Mob says:

    I am interested in buying throw-away junk laptops. Should be atleast functional

  4. John Kersten says:

    I am interested in throw-away junk pdas. They DO NOT need to be working.

  5. vikram chaudhry says:

    I am interested in buying throw away junk laptops. May be functional/non functional

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *