[vcf-midatlantic] Hard drive art

Brian Brubaker brianbrubaker at gmail.com
Tue Apr 16 11:35:41 EDT 2019

"not all of those whole-drives go to the landfill or become recycled"
I would argue that you may have a limited view as well, and while I
may not have a complete picture of what vintage hard drives are
currently used for, I believe my point is still valid. For all the
points you mentioned, EVERY hard drive eventually stops working and is
thrown away or recycled(aside from the 1% that go to museums).
Furthermore, I would suggest that hard drives with moving parts will
soon no longer be produced or used. I'm no futurist, but I'd bet they
are mostly gone within 20 - 30 years.  I would ask you how long you
honestly think people will be attempting to use these drives from the
60s-80s? I expect my art to last lifetimes, can you say the same for
any vintage computer today? you referred to yourself as the "old-guy",
I'm not exactly in my 20s either. I'm a programmer by nature, and have
a love of hard drives that has existed most all of my life. With that
being said I have had my fair share of drives die, data lost, and
attempts to transfer old data from older storage devices so I
certainly understand your point of view.

Now, at this point I've already disassembled most every hard drive
I've bought, including 36 8"-10" drives, 179 5.25" drives, and about
54 3.5" vintage drives. Over 200 different models. The only things
I've not yet fully disassembled are from 1" and 2.5" drives, I imagine
these don't qualify as vintage. I've sold 90% of the circuit boards,
95% of the scrap aluminum and other outer casing materials. At this
point I've invested about as much as I can into my art supplies, so I
more then likely won't be buying many more vintage drives unless I
start recouping my investment into my hobby turned side business. What
I don't use in my art I sell on e-bay or recycle. I'm more then happy
to sell the things I sell to anyone reading this. I have a collection
of parts I've yet to list, and some I could be convinced to sell for
the right price.. Aside from my art, everything I've sold on e-bay has
sold for under it's value, so I'm not exactly trying to get every
penny I can, I just can't loose $. I would love more avenues to get
old drives, they get harder to find every day.

Doing some

On Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 11:30 PM Herb Johnson
<hjohnson at retrotechnology.info> wrote:
> All good responses, Brian, you've thoughtfully described your process
> and activities. If my judgement matters, you're doing some of the right
> sort of stuff within the vintage ecosystem. As you state, you have some
> purposes and intentions that are certainly of value; and you produce
> items which are a product of your considerations and efforts and
> investment. I did not suggest your art lacked consideration, value or
> merit.
> But you also compete for use of those drives you buy whole - "could have
> purchased" suggests that. You mention such use as "those who want to
> prolong their own vintage computers". Well, that's a limited view. So
> this discussion is not about "agitation", yours or mine. This is a
> mutual learning conversation, in principle why people post in forums.
> I can tell you as a fact, not all of those whole-drives go to the
> landfill or become recycled. Several of my colleagues recently engaged
> in buying 8-inch hard drives, to restore Intel brand Multibus (call them
> "industrial") vintage computers. They were doing component level repair,
> and reverse engineering of their software and hardware. Whole drives,
> even not completely working, allow them to do this. And of course they
> hoped for working "HDAs" (hard disk assemblies, the working platters and
> heads) not only for repair, but to *recover original software* not
> otherwise available.
> Some go to great lengths to extract operating information about vintage
> computers; they make it available, often freely, to others. I've offered
> S-100 manuals for DECADES. That's not about "prolonging my own vintage
> computer".
> And, just as you suggest your art has an extended lifetime; so does
> purposeful recovery and restoration of vintage computers. Lessons
> learned and software and hardware recovered, as I've described, is and
> will be used to restore additional computers of the same kind. The
> effort is itself a demonstration of restoration possible for other
> computers. That encourages others who otherwise would give up such an
> effort. You can visit my Web site, to see many restoration examples.
> People tell me, they learned from my "art", and went on to other kinds
> of vintage computing, or modern "versions" of vintage computers.
> The contents on some computer drives may happen to include data of
> personal value. Some start with wanting to "restore their own computer",
> or their first computer, or their parent's computer. But people who are
> *persistently* involved in vintage computer restoration restoration,
> recovery (or expansion) of *technology* is often their primary value.
> Most of that work is done by individuals or collectives, not (in my
> experience) by institutions. Few have a large budget; you mentioned
> yours; budgets vary.
> Also: I have clients who use vintage computers for purpose; they lack my
> technical skills, or resources. They need drives for continued
> operation. Some purposes are industrial, unique control equipment hard
> to replace. Other clients, well, they are satisfied with their vintage
> software, which won't run on modern hardware; or runs poorly. Modern
> alternatives have needless complexity, or excessive cost. Who am I to
> tell them they are "prolonging"? Or to pass judgements on their personal
> interests?   Pardon me, or them, for being old and continuing use of a
> known tool! There was a time, when computers were not disposable
> consumables, and software worked adequately. That's another kind of
> "preservation", that point of view.
> So, you have some feedback from me, representing the "other side" who
> have continued purpose, of value, some beyond personal; for these
> drives, those "personal computers". We have things in common, we both
> have our reasons, but we are in some competition. I'm glad you give "us"
> some consideration. If I determine some of my drives no longer serve any
> purpose, I'll consider offering them to you as opposed to scrap. And
> I'll see if you have some boards I may use for repairs. Thanks for the
> discussion and the exchange of considerations.
> Herb Johnson
> On 4/15/2019 7:50 PM, Brian Brubaker wrote:
> > Thank you for your thoughtful comments,  I'm very sorry if I caused any
> > agitation as a result of my art....
> --
> Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
> http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
> preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
> email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
> or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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