Sentimental about old technology

HP ScanJet 6350C

Old computers never die — they just get shoved to the back of the cupboard, and gather dust.  Old peripherals are much the same.

I thought it would be nice to put online a picture of my scanner.  Not the one I use today, but the one I bought more than 10 years ago, when I started getting serious about scanning material to place online. 

I bought it on 2nd October 2000, on the web.  It cost £328.93 — about $500.  It had a sheet feeder, which would take a wodge of photocopies.  It was fast, being a SCSI  unit — most cheap scanners used the parallel port.  I used a PC Card on my old laptop to connect to it.

In those days there were no PDF’s online.  What I used to do was travel up to Cambridge University Library, and photocopy whole books, at 7p a sheet.  I’d come back with a couple of inches of paper, and I would then feed them into this thing.  Or I’d take a book, borrowed by inter-library loan, away with me during the week.  One evening I would go to a Staples, and stand there for an hour while the copier whirred.  As I write this, I remember driving down past Gatwick airport to some such establishment, back in 2004.  I remember doing the same in Harlow in 2006. 

The OCR technology of the day was primitive.  But the better quality scanner — I’d been using a $70 piece of rubbish before then — instantly reduced the number of corrections I had to make by hand.  The latter was always the slow part of OCR.  The sheet-feeder made it possible to run a book into the PC.

It’s a month short of 10 years ago that I bought it.  It has served me very well.   It’s the scanner that built the Tertullian Project, especially once I acquired Abbyy FineReader 5.0 and started getting good quality OCR results.

But I haven’t used it for a few years now.  It started to develop problems with the sheet-feeder, which left a vertical mark down the scanned page images and so made OCR more difficult.  The glass grew slightly scratched.  I was starting to do less OCR anyway.

Then I bought a Plustek OpticBook 3600, which was better for doing books.  But the death-knell was when I bought a Fuijtsu scanner with sheet feeder that took up a fraction of the space and was far faster.  I can’t remember where the SCSI card is any more.  All the Scanjet is doing is occupying space.  For years now I’ve used it as the place on which I stack my laptop when it’s not in use, which is a bit silly.

I think it is time to throw it away.  I’ll take it down the dump this afternoon.  I live in a small  house, after all.  It is of no use to anyone, after all, unless they have a SCSI card.  No-one does, these days — they were rare even back then.

But … it will be a wrench, somehow.  It’s like leaving a bit of yourself behind, something that helped define my identity for some of the most productive years of my life. 

Good-bye, old friend.

4 Responses to “Sentimental about old technology”

  1. Philip Stewart

    I’ve got a SCSI card. I used to use it connect my Epson scanner. Haven’t been able to get it to work on XP, so both card and scanner are lying around somewhere. I’m currently using a Packard Bell scanner I picked up for £10 at car boot sale. Performance is much the same as the Epson.

  2. Roger Pearse

    The cheap scanners are all very much the same, I think. I used my SCSI scanner on Win95 and Win98. But once USB was invented, SCSI just disappeared.

  3. Tim of Angle

    Don’t throw it away. Recycle it through

  4. Roger Pearse

    Interesting idea. But no-one would really want old non-functional kit.