The precarious state of classic software and hardware preservation

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Wed Nov 24 10:18:30 CST 2021

On 11/24/21 6:42 AM, John Herron via cctalk wrote:
> I can speak for state government but not fed (this was 20 years ago). It
> was an annoying buzz kill that we had to destroy old equipment, and deface
> documentation and software so it would be unusable from dumpster divers.
> Some pallets of hardware would get "recycled" by department of corrections
> (prisoners) but there wasn't any thought of archiving. Especially once
> bills came out to enable requesting of data. That resulted in policies to
> purge data older than x years and email after 1.

Sometimes it's corporate policy.

Back in the 1970s, some institution (college?) picked up all sorts of
CDC 6000-series bits and pieces from surplus dealers and assembled their
own working machine.   They then called on CDC for servicing the beast.

Bill Norris reportedly went through the roof.  The directive came from
on high that any CDC-owned equipment taken out of services was to be
rendered into an unusable, unsalvageable state before disposal.   I
witnessed CEs taking hammers to disk drives and mainframes, bolt
cutters, etc.   I used to have a Bryant disk platter that I smuggled out
of the facility with the intention of turning into a side table, but it
was lost in a house move.  I've just got a few cordwood modules, a head
from an 808 drive and a heatsink from a STAR-1B.

I don't know what corporate policy was with company-owned software, but
it could well have been similar.


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