Yesterday a friend of mine was going through some of his belongings from childhood and found an IBM Thinkpad from 1996, barely ever used. He figured since it is old, and irrelevant technology to him, he would just dispose of it in the garbage and go on with his life. As I strangled him with my bare hands, asking him why he would do such a thing, he realized there was another way to get rid of it. He relinquished his ownership of the laptop to me.
Now that the Thinkpad had been removed from the clutches of that brain damaged, trash-happy bastard, and was tucked away safe in a different psychopath's workshop, I thought what to do with it. The original power cord to charge it was nowhere to be found, so to power it up and make an upcycled retro gaming console of sorts was not in the cards quite yet. At least until I could find a suitable replacement for charging the battery. So, I figured the first step was a visual inspection.
The only real damage I could find anywhere on the device was some scratching on the exterior case. That, and the fact that the only place it's been was on floor of my friends attic for the better part of a decade, gives me no reason to think the board and its components are not in tact and will be fully operational once I get the battery charged.
Blast From The Past
Wow, MMX Technology. Remember when that was relevant? Interesting side note- This model is the ThinkPad 760XD, which was the International Space Station's portable computing system at the time.
Never would have thought when I was going to school for computer science that the technologies I was using at the time would ever be considered antiquated or irrelevant. Would have never thought in a million years I'd be referring to anything I was building then as "retro" or "vintage". It feels wrong on some level. But on another level it doesn't. I'm not one to live in the past, and I've maintained an "in the now" attitude with technology since my college days, that's why my first thought was to scrap it. I guess it was the nostalgia that really made me want to save this thing from the garbage. But practically speaking, I don't know that I could find a better use for it.
This PC card was a way to access the internet when mobile, before Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and network adapters in general became as strong and as prevalent in every device imaginable, like they are today. It was actually pretty convenient, kind of like today's version of a hotspot that you would have to plug into a PCI slot.
The most innovative feature on this keyboard is TrackPoint which became commonplace for a while on laptops. It was the time of yesteryear, a time when things were simpler, a time when keyboards consisted solely of 85 alphanumeric keys and people were satisfied enough with the fact that they could be used portably begin with.
Coming to a landfill near you...
I will say it seems like battery technology has definitely changed for the better. That thing looks like it has given cancer to a tribal leader of an indigenous people somewhere in the world.
What's with the title dude?
Until I can find a feasible way to charge that battery without the slightest possibility I could contaminate local wildlife due to my exploding a twenty-year-old battery, it looks like I'll be taking the scrap route for now. Well, at least evaluating it.
So without further ado, onto the post title. I have decided to analyze and quantify all the precious metal components within the 1996 ThinkPad and do the same with my 2017 Alienware M17 R4 Gaming Console. Then put a dollar amount on each and see which one is more. Not necessarily going to scrap the ThinkPad and I'm definitely not actually scrapping my Alienware. In fact I'm not even opening my Alienware I already know what's in there, about half of it I modded myself. This is more so for my own amusement than anything else, and now since I built it up in my mind so much, just plain curiosity. I have a theory with this particular ThinkPad, since it was the beefier version of those released that season, and it was manufactured, not pre-"silicon valley boom" but pre-".com bubble", it would have a rather large arsenal of precious metals (gold, platinum, etc) making up its components. So without looking anything up on Google that will sway me otherwise, I'm going to bust this thing open like an otter cracking open a clam on a rock...
Unfortunately I'm going to be that guy. You know the guy who builds up the story to a point where you're actually interested to continue on and then it gets cut short letting you know there's a part 2 coming. Sorry to anyone who's interested enough to read this far, but I've got kids who need things that little humans need... like food and clothes and baths and sleep. Not to mention my husky-wolfhound is now clawing at the door, because she's starving and knows I'm barricaded in here. I'll hopefully finish documenting this late tonight and post part 2 by tomorrow evening.
To partially make up for it, here's a parting tip, for any would-be builders or salvagers... Really anyone who uses tools on a regular basis... In case you didn't already know:
Magnetize your tools and screws.
Easier Precision Building
Easier Screw Collecting
Science is fun! Well not really, but occasionally it can be stimulating and even simulate fun!
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