Functional Obsolescence in our Society


I am off to taking two HP printers and one television to the “free electronic recycling” place at Home Depot this afternoon.

These two printers work perfectly, but we have a wireless one that all our devices are connected to. There are also no drivers for Trisha’s Mac or my Windows 7 PC for these anymore. So they have been boat anchors for over ten years.

This reminds me of my old HP letter quality daisy wheel printer that I bought for $900 or so in 1985. I used that to print from my DEC PDP 11/23, a minicomputer the size of a small refrigerator. When I started using IBM PCs in 1987, I had to make a special cable to connect to it, but it worked great with WordPerfect and then with Microsoft Word. It didn’t have graphics, but it was a great “automatic typewriter.” Its housing and shell was steel. Controltec was started on that printer. Eventually I bought an HP LaserJet 4L for less than $500 that replaced the letter quality printer.

I remember it hurt in the heart when I took that printer sometime in 1995 and threw it into the office dumpster. It worked perfectly. I would still be working now, 20 years later. That’s how it was built.

Functional obsolescence is one of the most wasteful byproducts of our modern tech society. I am contributing to it like everyone else. I don’t have a good answer. I recycle my old gear. But where does it go?

Is this sustainable?