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Computing in Amber
In the town I grew up in, warehouses and large companies were a common sight, dotting the landscape with their imposing structures. It was in this environment that I began to delve into the world of computing and found like-minded individuals who shared my passion. Little did I know that I would stumble upon a fascinating practice known as "dumpster diving."
As I started to explore this unconventional hobby with my newfound friends, I realized that it presented an opportunity to unearth hidden gems – slightly outdated or damaged tech that had been discarded by others. The thrill of venturing into the unknown with each dumpster dive was incomparable. You never knew what you might discover – a perfectly functional keyboard, a much-needed monitor, or even a box filled with precious diskettes, each harboring untold possibilities. It was like embarking on a treasure hunt, except the rewards were technology treasures.
As the exhilaration of dumpster diving gripped me, I became addicted to the pursuit of these discarded tech wonders. The uncertainty of each dive was what kept me coming back for more. Would I find something valuable this time, or would it be just another routine search? The adrenaline rush of spotting a potential find amid the debris was both thrilling and satisfying.
The challenges didn't end with the discovery, though. Once I salvaged a promising piece of technology, I had to get it home to test it or troubleshoot any issues. My home was situated approximately a mile away from the nearest dumpster, which meant lugging the newly found treasures back required both endurance and dedication. However, the sense of accomplishment that followed every successful retrieval made it all worth it.
One of the individuals I met during my dumpster diving escapades was a seasoned enthusiast, four years my senior. His experience in this field was evident in the sight that greeted me upon entering his garage – a computer warehouse of sorts, with equipment stacked from floor to ceiling. It was a haven for tech enthusiasts like me. Whenever we couldn't find the particular item we sought through our diving expeditions, his garage became the go-to destination. Bartering was the name of the game here; if we had something he desired or a bit of extra cash, we could make an exchange and claim our coveted tech treasures.
Despite the many exciting finds, there was one item that continuously eluded me in working order – a proper monitor. For the longest time, I had been using my television screen for computing, but I longed to graduate to a monitor that would scream "real computer" to me. My desire led me to the garage once more, where I finally struck a deal for a NEC JB-1205MA monitor. It was a stunning amber beauty that my experienced friend had lovingly reconditioned with his expert rewiring skills. To complete the trade, I brought over an assortment of odds and ends that he might find useful, including an Apple IIe Joystick with a centering problem and a collection of random floppies that others had thrown away.
The NEC monitor became my prized possession, and I treasured it dearly. It accompanied me throughout my computing endeavors until I eventually acquired my first PC, complete with a full-color monitor. I vividly remember the initial sensory overload of the vibrant colors, a stark contrast to the amber hues I had grown accustomed to. Yet, as with any change, I adapted quickly, and the NEC monitor gradually found itself relegated to less prominent positions in my life – first under the desk, then within the depths of a closet, and finally consigned to the basement. There, the passing of time and the effects of dampness eventually took their toll, marking the slow demise of my once-beloved amber companion.
While I may never desire to return to computing in amber, the memories of those formative years in my life are intimately intertwined with that distinct color. Each time I reflect on my humble beginnings as a tech enthusiast, the nostalgia for those dumpster diving adventures and the camaraderie shared with my fellow enthusiasts brings a warm sense of appreciation and fondness to my heart.