Cathode Ray Dude on retro hardware collecting


I haven’t ever read this put so well:

One of the things that sucks about retro hardware collecting is when you get in over your head on something - you’ve wanted it from a distance for ages, you finally get it, and find out you aren’t capable or dedicated enough to make it go.

I’ve felt that for a few pieces of kit lately. I keep it around in the hopes that one day I’ll skill up enough to work on them.

This has worked out in a few cases. I was ready to throw away a tape drive years ago, then I learned about belts and how to replace them. A set of DIMMs in my Pentium 1 tower suddenly worked when I learned about timings and voltages. Heck, I even learned recently that a beloved childhood toy has a glorified Z80 in it, which gets me a step closer to figuring out how to bring it back to life one day.

(It can also work out for other people too. I bought a full height Gateway 2000 machine to use as a NAS chassis, then cleaned it up and accidentally got it working. The person I sold it to in Brisbane said it was his childhood machine, and he was over the moon that someone had preserved one. I’m still riding a bit of that high as we speak).

But it can also feel demoralising at times. You think you understand something, or that you should understand it, but it’s just out of your grasp. Worse, you want to figure it out yourself. It weirdly feels like you’re letting your childhood self down. As with anything, I guess it just takes a step at a time.

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