As an e-waste recycler, many interesting things come through the front door - especially old technology. Piles and piles of old technology.... mostly of the cheap and cheerful variety.

But now and then there's an absolute gem.

Recently an old IBM ended up on my workbench. It was sturdy and practical - and when I opened it up I had no choice but to say "wow". It was beautifully hand-crafted, no automatic machine soldering or sloppy robotic efforts in sight. Wires were cloth-clad or rubber-coated and labeled by hand. Each join, each connection, each component was carefully placed and secured. It may have hummed along for many years, but there was no accumulated dust and grime - filters and fans had done their thing.

A few days ago a reel-to-reel tape recorder occupied the same spot on my workbench. It's probably older than I am, both complicated and simple, with many, many screws and nuts and bolts. Each had a purpose, all moving parts worked smoothly together - all put together by hand.

Every day, cookie-cutter modern throw-aways end up in my care. It's easy to break and strip them without really noticing what you're doing.

But there are some items that deserve to be treated with respect. Appreciated, admired, perhaps set aside and rescued from the pile. At the very least recycled mindfully, not uncaringly. Components and systems that make you pause and look properly at them.

Yes, it's just metal and glass and plastic. It's unfeeling technology. But the people who made it, the minds who dreamed it into being, these created and crafted things of beauty. Items that did the job and did it well for many many years.

And that commands my respect, my admiration as I carefully deconstruct what they have made.

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