Cheap computers still need software

I was in a used computer place today, and they had about 20 Dell P-133s with 16 megs of ram and a massive 1.2 gig drive. They’re selling them for $25. I can add a 15" SVGA monitor for about $40 and presto, I have a $65 DOS gaming machine for X-COM, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Fantasy General, Star Control 2, etc.

Thing is, they don’t have an OS. I’d need DOS, prolly W95 too, etc. I don’t have them anymore. Any idea where I can get either DOS or W95 for as close to free as possible? An old version of Microsoft Word would be cool too. I’m thinking of getting one of these and setting it up in my basement.

Hey Mark, I’m at work and don’t have your email address here - send me an email, I can almost certainly give you a copy of either Windows 95 or 98 for free. Maybe a version of DOS if you want it also (gotta look through my piles in the basement.)

I think you’ve got my private email, if use [email protected].

I’m going to post this here rather than start a new topic…but it IS related. I have a couple of old computers and monitors. They are pretty much just trash at this point, but I don’t want to just throw them away. Where can I take them to make sure they are disposed of properly? Gotta do my part to save the world from pollution!

The landfill.


Actually, pack them up and send them to me ok?

Seriously though Mark, how about eBay?

The landfill.


Actually, pack them up and send them to me ok?[/quote]

You paying the shipping?

Actually, I figure the landfill is where they end up anyway. But do landfills properly dispose of all the stuff? They just bury it all right?

The landfill.


Actually, pack them up and send them to me ok?[/quote]

You paying the shipping?

Actually, I figure the landfill is where they end up anyway. But do landfills properly dispose of all the stuff? They just bury it all right?[/quote]

Some schools will take them for labs - I gave a couple of computers this past year to a junior high and a high school, and they used them in classes where they let kids take computers apart (and try to put them back together again.)

I did some checking, and there are some places that will take them for recycling. But you must pay them to take it away.

Germany has an extensive recycling program for technical parts, paid for (last time I checked) in large part by the silver that is reclaimed from the boards.

I figure we won’t get a similar system in the US until at least January 1st 2005.

Your Power Pill

I’ve heard that monitors in particular should not be placed in the trash as apparently they have some heavy metals in them which are bad for the environment. They should be taken to a recycling company (which unfortunately typically charges money to take them!!!)

The used computer store I was at had a sign saying the accepted monitors for recycling. Of course, they charge $15 to do it. That part really sucks.

Yeah, computers are actually pretty bad for just taking to the dump. There are recycling services, and it’s starting to be a significant issue

I’m not sure how much value recycling extracts from old electronics parts – I’d suspect that the required disassembly eats up most of the material value. Anyway, you do have to pay when you bring devices above a certain size to a German collecting point. For instance, I recently paid 5 euros for a defective CD player. Motherboards and other small parts are free, though.

At least you have a collection point. Sometimes I think the US is soooooo backwards…

Would somebody like to show some real evidence that computers put into landfills are actually harmful to anything?*




Or do we just want to take that on faith since the “environmentalists” said so?

(*By evidence I mean scientific studies. I don’t mean rhetoric, sophistry, hearsay, or “it just is” type arguments. OK? Thanks.)

Hey Spoofychop, its called “Google” and typing things in can help you find answers to all your questions.

In general, electronic computer equipment is a complicated assembly of more than 1,000 materials, many of which are highly toxic, such as chlorinated and brominated substances, toxic gases, toxic metals, photo-active and biologically active materials, acids, plastics and plastic additives. Comprehensive health impacts of the mixtures and material combinations in the products are often not known. The production of semiconductors, printed circuit boards, disk drives and monitors uses particularly hazardous chemicals, and workers in chip manufacturing are reporting cancer clusters and birth defects. In addition, new evidence is revealing that computer recycling employees have high levels of dangerous chemicals in their blood.

The list of toxic components in computers also includes lead and cadmium in computer circuit boards, lead oxide and barium in computer monitors’ cathode ray tubes, mercury in switches and flat screens, and brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, cables and plastic casing. When we consider the fact that all landfills leak–even the best are not completely tight and eventually allow a certain amount of chemical and metal leaching-the mountains of e-waste destined for landfills is particularly disturbing.

Ever been to a chip fab before? Do you think those vats of chemicals that can kill you are just for show? Do you ever stop to consider where those chemicals go?

Well, I can’t resist jumping in here since I know this industry extremely well, and have regularly been in the labs and chip fab shops.

Much of what is claimed in the article is just blather, a laundry list of stuff meant to alarm. Analogous to me telling you that it is dangerous to throw peanut butter in the trash, because it contains levels of arsenic (it does.) And you know where that arsenic will end up!

The cancer risk in chip fab lines is related more to the solvents that are used during the process and which are never in the final product. And, at least for Intel, AMD, IBM, and some other of the the majors we work with, I don’t see any elevated cancer and birth defect data amongst the workers (it certainly isn’t from skin exposure since you work in the bunny suits in those rooms.) When people start throwing out laundry lists of “reported cancer risks” and laundry lists like chlorinated substances to make it scary sounding (like table salt?) I get suspicious of their motivations. Many things are made from really nasty and toxic raw materials, but when they are actually made the resulting material is no longer dangerous and does not revert to the initial compounds - that’s just the way chemistry works. The material that CDs are made from is made from phosgene gas (a real live chemical weapon that was used in world wars) and another chemical, which itself is produced from phenol, which can kill you if a relatively small amount gets on your skin. I don’t see people scared to death of CDs, nor concerned that they are a major health hazard. Oh - and phenol, which is very deadly and scary when used in making materials, is in the sprays you use for a sore throat. I could go on and on with the fallacies, but let me just say there are a lot of ways to scare people by naming all of the “stuff” that is in practically everything you use and wear and eat.

That said - there are some things in some computer parts that would be better off disposed of in a good recycle firm than put in the ground.

(And as another aside - be aware that recycle centers aren’t the nirvana many make them out to be. Many of them end up selling what they can sell, but there are some things that are more expensive to separate than what they can sell them for - what do you think they do with those items? Store them in a back room forever? ;) )

Thanks XPav!

I always prefer it when somebody actually links to something to back up their dogmatic assertions. And since you guys are the ones making the claims about the dangers of throwing out computers, the burden of proof is on you, not me!

Anyway, I’m still not convinced since there is no causal link between “leakage” from landfills and any actual environmental problem, but it sure does sound scary!

Anyway, I also recommend a “Goodwill” store or other thrift shop as they’ll often take working PC’s…even very old ones sometimes.

The thing about landfills is that they concentrate all of those minute bits into something significant. I’ve been involved in a few lawsuits over old landfills around the Los Angeles area, and all of them got started when the leakage from the landfills contaminated groundwater and caused the shutdown of drinking water wells. That little bit of Formula 409 in the bottom of a bottle didn’t seem like much when it was thrown away, but when there are 100,000 other bottles like it in the same spot, we’ve got a contamination problem. Old landfills are difficult and time consuming to clean up, and much of the cost ends up on the public since cities & counties were the ones that directed the waste stream there.

The efforts to force “e-waste” recycling are mostly an effort to avoid these mistakes of the past. We learned our lesson. SB20 is the current bill in California, but is stalled a bit.

I’m pretty sure putting cadmium in the water supply is a bad thing.

For non-toxic materials, though, recycling is pretty funny; cities didn’t start pushing it because they love bunnies. It’s came out of nowhere because they figured out it saves on landfill costs!

I don’t understand why non-organic junk in landfills has to be harmful to be avoided. Does anyone consider huge landfills a pleasant decoration of the countryside and a great thing to bequeath on future generations? And how about the non-renewable resources that went into those products?

Unless the ecological balance (energy, raw materials, pollution) for recycling is worse than that of traditional production, recycling should obviously be the first choice for all products, harmful or not.