E-Waste Hunting

Ok. If you don’t really care for computers or electronics, you can skip this post. Since the middle of this semester, Caroline and I have been visiting the “Computer Graveyard” where Columbia dumps all their old computers. Since then, I have accumulated a modest collection of old computer components. They pretty much take up all of the space on top of my desk in my dorm:

Here are some really old RAM sticks. If you know anything about computer components, you’ll notice that the contacts are plated with aluminum. I guess it was before gold became the standard.

Here is a stack of AMD Athlons that we pulled out from a bunch of dual processor servers:

This is an old Pentium II. Yeah it used to come in this weird daughterboard that fit into a slot in the motherboard.

Here is the cool stuff. It is an incomplete history of (kinda) Modern Intel chips.

First row from left to right: Intel i486 DX, Intel Pentium, Intel Pentium II “Klamath”, Pentium II “Deschutes”
Second row from left to right: Pentium III “Katmai”, Pentium III “Coppermine”, Pentium III “Coppermine-T”, Celeron “Willamette”, Pentium 4 “Prescott”

Here is a table comparing some of these chips:

Name Date Released Transistor Count Original Price 2008 Dollars
i486 DX 1989 1.185 million $1056 $1844
Pentium 1992 3.1 million $1250 $1930
Pentium II 1997 7.5 million $824 $1095
Pentium III “Katmai” 1999 9.5 million $700 $910
Pentium III “Coppermine” 1999 28.1 million $620 $806
Pentium 4 “Prescott” 2004 125 million $278 $320

It is pretty cool to see how much computers have changed since we were all born. It is most likely that the microprocessor that powers your cell phone is more powerful than the chips on the top row. Look at the prices too. I bought my MacBook Pro for less than the i486 cost in 2008 dollars.

Here is a comparison of undersides of some processors. The large one on the left is a Socket 4 Pentium. The one in the foreground to the right is a Socket 478 Celeron and the one in the background to the right is a Socket LGA775 Pentium 4. Notice that the Pentium 4 doesn’t have pins on it. It is a LGA (Land Grid Array) package that has pins on the motherboard that contact pads on the processor.


And last is a cool desk ornament. It is a CD cover from an old Apple eMac.

I know. I am a real big nerd but visiting the graveyard is like hunting for treasure. You never know what to expect.