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Silicon Valley's Island of Misfit Tech 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the purpletooth-device dept.
harrymcc writes "For more than 20 years, Sunnyvale's cavernous, aptly-named Weird Stuff Warehouse has sold an amazing array of salvage and surplus computer products. It's like a tech museum where everything's for sale at bargain-basement prices — from shrinkwrapped Atari 1040ST software to used BetaMAX tapes to 1GB hard drives to mysterious printed circuit boards to Selectric typewriters. I paid a visit to this legendary geek temple and snapped photos of some of the fascinating stuff I came across."

*

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Silicon Valley's Island of Misfit Tech

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  • Probe Card (Score:5, Informative)

    by mjvvjm (1003135) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:00PM (#31116672)
    Round circuit board is a needle Probe card. (For testing IC's) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probe_card [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Beelzebud (1361137)
      Ah cool! I was wondering what the hell that was.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CopaceticOpus (965603)

      I was amused that the article's author ("Harry McCracken" is credited) states that when he saw the round circuit boards, he felt that he "wasn't quite smart enough to understand them."

      Me: "You know what a circuit board is, right?"
      Harry: "Sure."
      Me: "It's just a board with electrical components connected together."
      Harry: "Yup."
      Me: "So, this is the same thing with a round shape."
      Harry: "Hold on. You lost me there."

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We also used to use round circuit boards (stacked) inside a jack-in cylindrical PLC used in all sorts of industrial panels. The devices had to pass very specific standards on encapsulation since they were used in environments where a single small spark could blow up a substantial chunk of real estate.

      It's easier and safer to seal a circular opening.

    • by ptbarnett (159784)

      Round circuit board is a needle Probe card.

      Glad to see this is the "frist post". I saw that picture and had the same thought.

      It's been about 30 years since I've seen one, though, and they weren't as complex as that one. Is the one in the picture dated November 17, 1994?

  • Used BetaMax?!? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Porn?

    Porn - back in the day before cow udder sized fake tits and shaved vaginas - back when the women looked like women and not like tweens with two malignant tumors on their chests.

  • great (Score:3, Funny)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:02PM (#31116688)

    Oh great, slides of the family vacation. Fine. I'm going to the kitchen.. I'll be back glassy eyed and with a bowl of popcorn in a few!

    • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:41PM (#31117174) Journal

      When WeirdStuff had satellite solar panels (when they were still at Syncamore Drive in Milpitas) ... or 4 platter 8 inch 20MB Hard Disk with spindle motor running off AC ...

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Yup wierdstuff used to get lots of really good tech. Nowdays they simply look like a trashbin of useless junk at premium prices. They really have missed their heyday.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          Yup wierdstuff used to get lots of really good tech. Nowdays they simply look like a trashbin of useless junk at premium prices.

          Must admit I was expecting a bit more from the article. The problem is that a lot of that stuff is from the 90s (or pretty common stuff from the 80s). 1990s PC tech is mostly old enough to be very dated by modern standards, but it's still way past the early days of computing. By that time a lot of stuff had been standardised (not least the world finally settling on the "IBM PC compatible" as a standard). It really just comes across as crappier and more dated versions of what we have now.

          Maybe it's just me

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Friday February 12, 2010 @07:14PM (#31121432) Journal

            I don't know, every once in awhile I'll come across one and think "damn! They are still using THAT!" like the time I had a teacher ask me to pop in after class to see if I could fix this girl's PC. She was a single mom and going back to class and needed her PC to write up her papers on. So I walk in there and the girl looks like she is ready to cry, and the teacher says "don't worry, he can fix anything. I'm sure it'll be alright" and I look at this....thing. It was a 30Mhz running Windows 3. Not 3.11, windows fricking 3 on a whole 4Mb of RAM.

            So the girl looks at me all teary and goes "Can you fix it? I'm hoping to scrape enough from my job to get a used one in the fall and then maybe give this one to my boy. Can you fix it?" I told her not to worry, just wait a second. I went out to the back seat of my pickup and picked out a couple of nice SFF office boxes that had been donated to me by an SMB when they upgraded. I walked in there and said "Both of these are about 20 times faster than that poor old thing ever could be. they both have a clean install of Windows 2000 and Open Office. They're yours" and the poor thing tried to explain she couldn't afford them and when I finally got through to her they were freebies you thought she had won the lotto or something. I told her to back her car up by my truck and I would hand her the keyboards mice and monitors so she and her kid would both have working PCs and she just started crying. Never will understand women and the happy crying thing.

            So yeah, to geeks that is just old junk, but sometimes it can do some good. I'm sure most here wouldn't have even wanted those 733Mhz SFF office boxes, but I'm sure they are working good for that girl and her kid to this very day. Just as my first gamer rig, a 100MHz Pentium with a whopping 16Mb of RAM, is STILL working 5 days a week running an ISA card for an old custom lathe at a lumber company. The guy that bought it and my 233Mhz had been into every shop in town looking for a PC with ISA slots, and when I told him I had a couple you'd have thought he was gonna start dancing for joy. That is why we little mom & pop shops are pack rats, and you can find all kinds of little weird cards and such there. You just never know when you are gonna need that old hunk of junk, you know?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        When WeirdStuff had satellite solar panels (when they were still at Syncamore Drive in Milpitas) ... or 4 platter 8 inch 20MB Hard Disk with spindle motor running off AC ...

        I think I'm going to have a drink everytime someone mentions something made before I was born on this thread...

        • Good plan. I'll join you :-)
          • Good plan. I'll join you :-)

            This ends well...

            • by jeff4747 (256583)

              Devices I've owned that were probably made before you were born:

              Atari 2600
              Atari 800
              Intellivision
              Commodore 64
              TRS-80 Model IV
              Macintosh (the 1984 model)
              Mac IIsi
              Pong

              Lemme know if you need some more to plastered.

              • Atari 2600
                Atari 800XL (with 64KB RAM!!)
                Texas Instruments digital calculator, complete with multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction!
                Magnavox VHS VCR, circa 1984 (just missed BetaMax iirc)
                Numerous table top video games such as Donkey Kong that came in portable home versions of arcade game housings.

                God I feel old...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by dangitman (862676)

          I think I'm going to have a drink everytime someone mentions something made before I was born on this thread...

          You were born on this thread? I know people are starting to use computers at younger ages these days, but this is ridiculous.

      • I bought my first monitor from Weird stuff. it was vga, but had a 2 row EGA connector and it took forever to make an adapter cable, as apparently the monitor was for some Japanese standard. the screen would turn brown ever so often and I had to hit it as hard as I could on the left side to set it straight again.

        but the truly weird stuff i've found there? a CO2 cutting laser, Used glass wafer masks left over from some fab(wouldn't these be secret?) and a Degauss machine so strong it ripped the IC's off har

  • They had bins full of LED traffic lights last time I was there (right around the corner from my office). Interesting place, great for dirt cheap keyboards and mice.

    tm

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      They had bins full of LED traffic lights last time I was there

      I thought such things only got common in the past five years or so? Maybe they have newer stuff too?

      • by TJamieson (218336)

        They did get common in the past few years, but since they don't melt snow like good ol' incandescent, colder northern climates are probably dumping them cheap :)

  • Used to be across the road from the first Fry's Electronics.

    • by Hades- (16878)

      Was that down by where Sports Basement is now? (I was under the assumption that SB is in the building where Frys originally was.) I remember walking into Weird Stuff the first time and seeing the row of old networking equipment and just being giddy.

      • It was in where the Grainger is now. Fry's was where Sports Basement is. But Weird Stuff was on that side of the road before Fry's, I think. Fry's used to be one street east, on Lakeside Drive. Maybe you can still see the "Fry's parking only" stencil on the parking spots just on the other side of the row of trees forming the east side of the parking lot St. John's is in.

        What was the name of the computer/electronics store that moved in after Weird Stuff? It was an import from another country. They sure jumpe

      • I honestly have no clue :( - I don't live around there anymore.

    • Even better, you had the first Fry's, Weird Stuff across one street from that, and across the other street you had a branch of Computer Literacy books, and a Togo's. Hit Fry's and Weird Stuff, then go pick up a magazine or book at Computer Literacy, and grab a large hot #7 at Togo's and eat it while reading the book or magazine.

      Proof that there is no God: Togo's only has one location in Washington (where I live now), so my sandwich needs have to be met by Subway and Quizno's, neither of which comes within a

    • by MWoody (222806)

      God, I remember that. Used to get my Dad to take me to Fry's, marvel at all the stuff I could never hope to afford, then hop across the road and spend my allowance on shareware floppies.

  • by dtmos (447842) *

    It's hard to tell from the photograph, but I think the circular circuit board is a probe ring for an automated integrated circuit tester. The chip is placed in the hole in the center of the circuit board. Probe pins, like these [computerhistory.org], are placed on the gold area around the hole in the center to contact the pads of the IC under test. The other side of the pins are connected to the inner ring of contact points on the circuit board (just outside the gold area), which are, in turn, connected to the rows of contact

  • Reminds me of the Goodwill computer store, but bigger.

    Wonder if Slashdot would run a story on me checking out a flea market?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hguorbray (967940)
      it's a little better than that -the backroom (3/4 of a huge warehouse) has dozens of telco racks, lots of old token ring and even stranger networking gear as well as lots of cabling equipment.

      In the front area you can buy old sgis and sparcstations for a pittance and they also have a cool looking touchpad linux barebones (no case) for ~$200 iirc

      definitely geek heaven for sili valley -others mentioned Halted or Haltec, but that is more of a parts emporium although they do have some weird stuff too.

      -I'm just
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:09PM (#31116756)

    My desk is an island of misfit tech :)

    Some things are still work perfectly: I'm not trading my four (!) LaserJets 4M+ (and 4+ modded to 4M+ and mem-maxed) for any of today's cheapo crap (ok, ok, in the article it's a LaserJet IIP but still).

    These were semi-professional printers and they're outlasting any non-professional printer that you can buy today. There's a reason why a good, low page count, 4M+ still goes on for $100 on eBay. These are indestructible devices of an age where quality in the U.S. was the norm.

    Still use on of them daily and I regularly "round robbin" them :)

    My desk at home is : LaserJet 4M+ and IBM Model M hooked to a Core 2 Duo + 24" Samsung screen. Pretty cool to have a 16 years old printer and a 21 years old keyboard (times four, just in case) that still work perfectly and that are still used on a daily basis.

    Quality I tell ya.

    • >>> These are indestructible devices of an age where quality in the U.S. was the norm

      Oh jeez. Next you're going to tell us about how records really DO sound better the Super Audio CDs or DVD Audio discs. Or that an old 1950s car is better built than a modern car that squeezes-out 40 miles per gallon of gasoline. ;-) - I had one of those laserjets given to me by my employer, and it worked okay, but not as good as my 2000s-era Samsung which can print in color, copy various forms, and do double-

      • by mrdoogee (1179081)

        If you need that stuff, that's great. However my shop prints nothing but single sided database reports on single sided legal paper. Many other offices are similar. I have a fancy pants color laser that does 40PPM and double sided here, however the HP LJ4000 is what sits on my desk because its reliable, rock solid and if the toner gets streaky, I just pull the cartridge, give it a hearty shake, and *POW* like magic, the printer prints just fine for hundreds more pages.

      • Records sound good, but I could not tell you how they compare to SACD or DVDA becasue I do not have a player for them. However, most of the time records sound better than regular CDs. While CD as a medium is high quality and probably higher quality than the record (especially dynamic range) current CDs are so compressed that they sound horrible. Old records were made before the loudness war escalated to the level it is at today.

        What I do not like about modern cars is their look and complexity. Yes, the car

    • by Tuidjy (321055)

      Hell yeah :-) My desk sports a LasetJet5 made in May 1996, a modem M made in April 1997, and a Hitachi 24" CRT made in March 1995.
      The monitor takes a few minutes to warm up, but the rest is rock solid.

    • I came here to post about the same thing.

      When my wife's old college-era printer died, I bought a LaserJet 4M+ from Discount Electronics in Austin. This was in 2003 or 2004, and for $99 I got a printer with 10baseT JetDirect card and all the toner in its cartridge.

      Six or seven years later, I haven't spent a dime more on anything besides paper, and I still have a durable, fully-functional, networked printer. I'd be hard-pressed to believe that printers made in 2003 or 2004 would be in such good shape today.

      • by AaronW (33736)

        I have the same printer I bought years ago at an electronics swap meet. Later I found a cheap duplex unit and extended paper tray at a different swap meet. The only thing I have had to replace was the fuser (found cheap online) and the toner, plus I had to eventually rejuvenate the rubber parts, but it still works like a champ. At a previous job I had to use it to print out a lot of large PDF documents on it because the newer printer they had (HP LJ 4200) would crash on the Postscript and there was no way t

    • by mrdoogee (1179081)

      Mine aren't as old, but I have about 5 Laserjet 4000s that they can have when they pry them from my cold, dead hands.

      I've always found it odd that HP used to make printers that got thousands of pages per $80 cartridge, that you could literally drop on the floor and they'd keep on chugging happily away, but now the P2015dn set I've got now gets less than 3000 pages per $150, loses network connectivity randomly, and flat out refuses to run once the chip decides I'm "out" of toner.

      Many of my non IT co-workers

      • by donatzsky (91033)

        and flat out refuses to run once the chip decides I'm "out" of toner.

        You can probably turn that "feature" off. On my CP1515n it's called Auto Continue and is found under System Setup in the web interface. On the CP1515n the default threshold is set to 6%.

      • by hurfy (735314)

        lol, i used to get LJ 5 printers for our office right up til last year when we sold out :)
        One of them was dropped by UPS (from a rooftop apparently) and came in with 23 pieces of plastic broken...of course it still prints fine once you put back the piece that trips a sensor and put the display back where it belongs :) Our original LJ5 was at 700,000 pages last i saw, why change?

        Now if only someone near by had an actual monochrome monitor and a 10MB hard drive i could rebuild these 2 other old Compaq :( Tra

    • I still run a LaserJet4+ and have a spare in the basement. Toner is dirt cheap, and it still prints great. Mine has the duplexer on it too. Got the whole unit at a state surplus auction for $30, full of toner, and it has the large capacity paper tray too, and a JetDirect card! Then when I wanted color, I got a Tektronics 740 color laser networked printer at a university auction for $15...works great from the multi purpose tray...normal tray doesn't work. A few months later, I got a full set of toner an
      • by Skater (41976)
        I have an LJ 4M+, which works fairly well, but it draws so much current in my house that the lights dim and the UPSs switch over to battery. So, I don't use it much. The house was built in the 60s and has a total of 7 circuits supplying a 3 bedroom/2 bath ranch - and that includes a dedicated circuit for the fridge. One of the eventual upgrades for the house is to get better service (I have 100 amp service now) and a breaker panel that has the room to let me split some circuits.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      Hey, don't dis the LaserJet IIP. I had one until a couple years ago, which I got rid of for a number of reasons - namely, I ran out of toner, and was getting intermittent PCB-induced errors

      However, the printer went through hell and back, and still survived. It was a public school printer for over a decade, followed by a couple years at a private school and then sitting in someone's basement for a year or so next to their cat litter. The gears were almost toothless from use and would slip slightly once every

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:11PM (#31116770)

    RePC. There's one in Seattle south of the stadiums, plus it has a computer history museum inside of it with lots of seriously old machines on display. There is another RePC (sans museum) in Tukwila, south of Seattle.

    Never seen traffic walk signs there before, but I've seen basically everything else shown here on sale at RePC, though the prices seem better than at RePC.

    I picked up a C64C with some floppy drives, some monitors to go with old 8-bit machines, an Apple //GS, and some other stuff. Those machines are seriously cheap nowadays.

  • Sounds like a place I could donate my AOL 1.0 diskette and vintage 2400 baud modem to.
    • Or sell it on Ebay. I sold my old Quantum Link disk (think AOL 0.9) for $10. My old 1200 baud Commodore modem went for $1. (The buyers also paid postage on top of that.) One man's junk is another man's prized possession.

  • Not that weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238)

    90% of it is at least partially compatible with modern hardware. I was expecting something legitimately odd.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:18PM (#31116862)

    Between the racks I got from Weird Stuff [weirdstuff.com], the tube radio I got at Electronics Flea Market [electronic...market.com], the wiring and connectors, and components I get from Halted [halted.com] and Al Lasher's Electronics [allashers.com], (I still miss Quinn's Electronics [imsai.net], though...), I almost don't need to go to Fry's or order from Digi-Key.

    Not that I don't go to Fry's, Digi-Key, or even eBay, but it's nice to still be able to get parts 'n' stuff on a Saturday for $5 in gas and a pleasant drive, rather than a $5 shipping charge and a three-day wait. (I don't mind paying $5 for a $1 connector, but if I gotta go that route, I'll be damned if I'm gonna wait for it :)

    Alas, the surplus store memorial [bluefeathertech.com] list gets longer with every passing year.

    But that covers a few places I know of in the Bay Area. Where are your surplus stores?

    • by Temkin (112574)

      Last I heard, Vinnie had resurrected Quinn's, or at least attempted to. I no longer live in the area to check. I grew up near by, and got to meet Mike only once.

      Here in Austin we have M.C. Howard Electronics. Perhaps not the legend that was Quinn's or the big three in the south bay, but not bad. We have a great Goodwill Computer Works for more run-of-the-mill computer stuff.

    • I went to Al Lasher's and asked, while buying some high-voltage capacitors, how much a lead-acid battery like one he had was. He said I could have it for free. He's a really nice guy.
    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      WTF are you going to get a Fry's anymore? Maybe some batteries and a battery holder? Their components selection is worthless now.
    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      You missed LARK Swap (You have PARK Swap)
      http://www.livermoreark.org/swap/swap.html [livermoreark.org]
    • by mstahl (701501)

      American Science and Surplus (http://www.sciplus.com/) in Chicago just needs to be mentioned here. That place is magical.

  • These are not hi-res pics, they're from your iPhone. What's wrong with putting everything on ONE page? Geez.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388)

      because he gets ad revenue from each page's banners, 22 in all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rarel (697734)
        Yeah, it was a rethorical question.

        He didn't get much from me. I closed the damn thing at the third pic/page. Starting with old wrapped boxes, expecting to bait users to see more? Hmf, booooring. Stupid start, stupid article, and stupid scheme.

    • These are not hi-res pics, they're from your iPhone. What's wrong with putting everything on ONE page? Geez.

      Because, even with the overhead of the HTML, it isn't worth the server and bandwidth hit to send 22 pictures to people who might not care after the first 2 or 3, especially if the site is getting Slashdotted.

  • A long time ago in a galaxy far away there was a store called "Dexis" in Eden Prairie MN. They had a retail storefront but the fun was in the back rooms. All sorts of odd stuff was for sale back there; much of it sold "best offer / as-is". I found many things back there that I didn't know (before going in) that I needed. Unfortunately for the consumer they found that they could sell that stuff for more money on ebay. Then they eventually folded up completely. Now dexis.com is a dental x-ray business.
  • Boring (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bit9 (1702770)

    They should rename this place to Boring Stuff Bonanza.

    I can, to some degree, understand people being a little nostalgic for the old days of computer tech. I'm not all that nostalgic about it myself, but if I ever did decide to get nostalgic about it, those are not the items I would pick. Windows 3.1 and Windows 95??? Good riddance to those crappy operating systems! A broken down P-133 with 16MB RAM??? A Betamax tape? WTF?

    If you're going to be nostalgic about old computing stuff, at least pick stuff that was

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by azmodean+1 (1328653)
      I agree, the article writer picked some rather unimpressive offerings, but how about a pair of 1U dual-Xeon systems for $200? there is also a steady stream of other rackmount parts and accessories, along with misc memory, CPUs, and periphials. I understand that only a small fraction of the inventory makes it to the webpage, so I probably don't even see the good stuff :P
  • I still have my Dell P-133 machine at home but I upgraded it to a whopping 64 mb ram a long time ago. It does a good job of running the various V for Victory games and storing long ago porn which can no longer be found anywhere (how is that possible?).

  • When I was in Silicon Valley last year of course I had to stop by this place to check it out. Well I knew it was a good sign when there was just a box of free stuff outside (mostly broken crap and old software). Inside there's the show room area but then there's just the whole back full of isles of stuff that most geeks have in their basement (err bedroom).

    One of the nice things was they had an area you could take stuff to test if it worked before buying it. For a lot of the stuff that would be important

  • by D4C5CE (578304) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:29PM (#31116974)
    White Lion lyrics [magistrix.de] as old as much of the Weird stock:

    what we have become
    just look what we have done
    all that we destroyed
    you must build again

    Those were the days... <sigh>
    Your mission, if you dare to accept it, is to solder a C64 back to life tonight. ;-)

  • atari 1040 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:29PM (#31116978) Journal

    I learned 68000 assembler on a Atari 1040 later I remember having a C programming environment in a 400K ramdisk (sozobon?).

    It ended up being used as a serial terminal on 386/486 unix systems when I started programming professionally.

    This article may be the first time I've thought of it in a decade.

    Ah, to be young and enthusiastic again.
    Nostalgia by Veidt.

    • I learned 68000 assembler on a Atari 1040 later I remember having a C programming environment in a 400K ramdisk (sozobon?).

      Atari ST sucks! Amiga Forever!

      (just getting into the spirit of things... :)

  • I have most of the same stuff in my garage. If you like this stuff go to the computer swap meet in Tustin at Edinger and Grand. It's where the geeks sell have to their stuff when they get married.
  • There's a quite acceptable substitute in Hillsboro:

    Surplus Gizmos, located on Cornelius Pass road, about a half mile north of Route 26. West side of the road, in an office park.

  • Hal-Ted (now HSC) has been around for a lot longer.

    http://www.halted.com/ [halted.com]

    I seem to remember another electronic junque shop called Hal-Tec (or Tech?). Maybe my misty memories are too foggy.

    lawn, off, etc.

    • by kbob88 (951258)

      I haven't been to Weird Stuff, but I hit Halted / HSC every few months. From the pictures, it seems like Weird Stuff has more old junk. HSC has plenty of old stuff, but most of it is still usable, and someone probably will eventually buy it. Not sure why anyone wants a copy of early 90s era MS Word though; good luck getting rid of some of that stuff.

    • lol

      here's more than I ever needed to know about the history of Halted and Haltek- (thanks, google)

      http://www.bluefeathertech.com/technoid/surplusmemorial.html [bluefeathertech.com]

  • Just as an FYI, I've been hearing the phrase, "why am I such a misfit, i am not just a nit wit, just because my nose glows, why don't I fit in?"

    Grrrrr!

    (Cool picture by the way!)
  • Orlando, FL (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you are already on vacation in Orlando, convince your family to go to Skycraft Parts & Surplus.

    http://skycraftsurplus.com/ [skycraftsurplus.com]

    They are off of I-4 and Fairbanks near downtown, you can't miss the giant UFO on the roof.

    They get a lot of old NASA/Lockheed gear, plus everything from de-soldered 74-series DIPs to Oscilloscopes to Electric Motors.

  • I miss it terribly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ender- (42944)

    I used to love going into Weirdstuff in the mid-late 90's. I had just moved to Silicon Valley and was in awe of the incredible stuff they had. This was back when they had a location further down in Sunnyvale, right across the street from the old Sunnyvale Fry's location. At the time I worked for NCA down the block. They were a small competitor to Fry's. I think it was on Lawrence Expressway.

    Anyway, I remember going in there and they had an old phone company switch board from back in the days when the opera

    • by zitsky (303560)

      Yes I miss it too. I'm across the country now and there is nothing like Weirdstuff or Fry's around here in North Carolina. I used to go to Weirdstuff and just browse. A lot of times I wouldn't buy something but every so often you'd find something really neat. It was fun looking at all the old tech, old Apple II's, IRIX workstations, etc.

    • by soapee01 (698313)
      First Saturday in Dallas http://www.sidewalksale.com/ [sidewalksale.com] Lots of weird things to be found, and plenty of used computer equipment. I'm not affiliated, but it is fun to walk it.
  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Friday February 12, 2010 @03:59PM (#31117464)

    Luke: "Are you all right? What's wrong?"
    Obi-Wan: "I felt a great disturbance in the Force... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror..."

    For more bad memories, (for older readers like me), there's a photo of a boxed set Win95 'upgrade'.

    • by dunezone (899268)
      My father brought home from his work a plastic bag full of floppy disks for the Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 upgrade.

      So on New Years Eve 1997(almost two years after release), I sat down with my Packard Bell 486 and started the upgrade. I think I got to disk 17 or 18 before it bombed out reading the disk. So my dad brought home another bag of floppies several weeks later and it did it again, this happened several more time before it finally succeeded.

      The amazing part is that after each time it bombed out
  • Sell it on eBay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by oycob (1742138)
    They could obviously sell all this stuff on ebay (or the like) with thousands of potential buyers who would never swing by this warehouse and pick something up. And probably at higher prices, at least on average. How come they aren't? Does anyone know if there's someone behind this store funding it? Or are they actually making good money with this store?
    • by sowth (748135) *

      It appears they already have an online store [weirdstuff.com]. (www.weirdstuff.com - from the article.) Why would they need to use Ebay?

  • I still have my Palm Pilot III along with its 56k modem add-on. Man, what a fucking waste that modem was. The amount of time I was actually out of my house and could use someone's phone socket to plugin and surf the net could be counted on one hand. I knew tis at the time but I had to buy the modem add-on and I felt almost like a god being able to surf the net on my Palm in my own home on my dial up modem. It's sad looking back on it now but damn that was awesome at the time.
  • I'm sad that my recent trip to Silicon Valley did not include a trip to this place, although I know I could not have carried much back with me. There's always a next time. Anyways, anyone know of any places like this in the Washington, DC - Baltimore MD areas?
    • by idiolect (256895)

      In the late 90s, at least, DC Computer Service in Tenleytown, DC, had an absolutely massive basement full of old computers, odds and ends, etc. I went down there on several occasions to hunt through boxes of obscure cables - I remember buying a bunch of Atari ST components off them. I would call up and see if they'll still let you rummage around, the unremarkable upstairs shop suggests nothing of all the loot they had below ground. http://www.cccits.com/ [cccits.com].

  • I miss Action Surplus. They had computer and A/V cables at non-ripoff prices. Anyone know if they just moved or are they truly gone?

    I also bought a cheap luggage set from there that has survived 10 years of traveling and I am still using today.

    Also, remember Fry's had three locations in Sunnyvale. The first was on the east side of Lawrence, then the building painted to look like a microchip, then the current giant building which was an old manufacturing facility (can't remember which company.)

    In the beg

  • Been shopping here for years. Many times using the gear for a few years and then donating it back. Picked up a decent SUN when the dot.com era was kicking in. Got quite a bit of old Apple II parts at one time. Even came across a shrink wrap copy of VisiCalc one day. Great place for nostalgia.
  • Damn, I must be old! I remember when ALL of that stuff (including the typewriter) was brand new! I KNOW I have a box of two of DOS and Win 3.1 software on 5 inch disks down there some where, and lurking in the corner is a single board computer with an RCA CDP1802 processor. Oh, did I forget to mention the boxes of Byte magazines. Not quite back to Vol 1 No.1, but close and for many years thereafter. Too bad this place is all the way across the country, maybe I could find more stuff or maybe they would
  • ...the turquoise Selectric.

  • Big deal (Score:3, Funny)

    by jweller (926629) on Friday February 12, 2010 @05:53PM (#31120074)

    I get hundreds of emails a day offering to upgrade my Wang

    http://technologizer.com/2010/02/10/silicon-valleys-island-of-misfit-tech/13/ [technologizer.com]

  • 'Nuff said.

  • Back in the late 80s, we had a Big Lots come into town with their assorted piles of junk. Though, they did occasionally have some interesting stuff... like bins full of shrink-wrapped atari game carts for the 2600/5200/7800. (I probably had over 200 titles stockpiled at one point... and only one was that crappy ET game.)

    Then during the early 90's, neighbor of mine asked me to come help them out with a computer problem on a machine they had just bought. When I got their, it turned out the problem was that th

  • It was only last year that I finally dumped some 1GB disks after copying off all the files. Four full height beasts that consumed something like 40W apiece. (They hadn't been used for about 10 years and were just taking up space and really just too expensive to run.) Other oddities I haven't been able to part with yet: a 200MB SCSI drive that I ran in a '486 back about '91 and an 80MB SCSI drive that someone gave me. I have it in a test system with an older release of SuSE on it. I'm still running some

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