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As a child I used to play with old PCs, take them apart, assemble different parts to new PCs, etc. One day when I was 12 I was carrying a 486 Desktop PC to a friend's house, who lived in a different part of the town. On my way there a man stopped me and asked me if I'm interested in computers. He told me he has lots of computers and computer parts at home and I could look at them, pick anything I wanted and take it home to keep. I just had to come home with him and I'd get all the computer parts I wanted. Sadly I couldn't, because my freidn was waiting for me and expected me to bring the 486. So the man gave me his phone number and told me to definitely call because he would soon have to through away good comuter parts if I wouldn't take them.

Back at home I told my mother about the man. For some reason she thought that it was a strange thing to stop a child in the street for and that I shouldn't call him. I replied "He's liek 80 or 90 or something and he said he has to throw the stuff away if I don't take it." I'm not entirely sure whether it was more the age esitmation or my fear of good tech getting thrown away that let her give him a chance to explain himself. So, I called him, took a train to his house and you may guess what happened there, or continue reading, or both.

He lead me to his basement. It was huge. It seemed larger than the already large house. And every single room of it, including the hall in the center, was filled with PCBs, monitors, PCs, racks, more PCBs and cards, software packages (those thick ring binders with manual, diskettes and sometimes printed source code or other notes ticked in an even thicker cardboard box), ICs and other small parts in transparent boxes, empty boards and all the chemicals needed to make your own PCBs, some unfinished projects, home-grown microcomouters, printers, cables, and so on. A retro computer fan's paradise! He was in my home town because he visited a medical specialist. I'm guessing that he knew or suspected that he didn't have much time to get his hobby stuff into the hands of somebody who'd appreciate it. The latter was certainly his goal and did appreciate the tech, which seemed to make him very happy. But I only realised many years later how much more there would have been to appreciate. Back then I wasn't interested in ISA memory extension cards. They were slow and small compared to even SIMM modules. I didn't care for his software collection at all. And I didn't see what I couldn't have done with a custom build computer for which no software existed except what you write yourself. I had no use for his chemical laboratory, hard disks with less than 100 MB of space or electronic parts like logic gates. An 8086 PC was just a worthless piece of too slow hardware to get any fun out of it. I used an MFM drive solely to open it up and take it apart to see how they built these things.

Recently I was thinking, that old man met me too early. My interest in computers was not developed enough at the time. But he did die soon after I visited his house. So for getting some of his computer stuff to somebody who'll at least do something with it before it gets thrown out it was just the right time. I didn't know him, just met him once after his suspicious chat-up. But his wife actually thanked me after he had died. So maybe I didn't come across as greedy or too selfish.

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