People often ask me why I bother to refurbish old computers and often garnish their comments with all types of snide remarks and put-downs. Do I care? Certainly not.
I derive a lot of pleasure from breathing new life into old PCs, especially if they’ve been neglected and need some TLC. This particular machine belongs to a friend and he was about to throw it out onto the street until I intervened.
The first thing I do is to strip the computer down to the metal, remove all its components, and then wash everything that’s not electrical in hot soapy water, finishing off with a good blast of the hose pipe. I then leave everything out in the hot sun to dry. In this scorching weather, that takes no more than a few minutes.
I then clean the motherboard and other components with compressed air and a soft brush, remove the heatsink, renew the thermal paste and ensure that all fans are free from dust and other gunk. Rebuilding the PC is always a pleasure and with HP Compaq machines, because they are built to last with top quality materials, they are difficult to break. On the other hand, you will need the correct screwdrivers because HP always uses aluminium torque screws. I ensure every detail is cleaned and inspected and once the rebuild is finished, I hit the switch not without a little trepidation.
This HP Compaq Deskpro Pentium III E was originally built in February 2000 (HP is very good at marking all the components) and came with a Maxtor 30GB hard drive, 2 x 256 DIMMs, a CD-ROM, floppy, and a hard drive caddy device with a parallel port connection which must have been an early removable hard drive mechanism. The huge motherboard speaker is connected to the motherboard and of course, the on/off switch is proprietary HP.
Installing Windows XP
When I first received the PC, Windows XP was running fine, but then developed errors so I went for a clean install which is usually a stroll in the park, but not on this occasion. To cut a long story short, the install took several hours, not least because of read/write errors from the CD, but also because of the proprietary HP BIOS which kept throwing up errors. When the OS was finally installed, I didn’t even need to install any further drivers either as everything was recognised immediately.
With XP SP 2 finally installed, I ensured that all was working correctly, checked out Device Manager, and then left the install as is because I’ve now put it up for sale. Someone will buy it and of that, I have no doubt because every refurbished machine I’ve put up for sale has moved within days.
Besides, I already have three retro machines that I refurbished some time ago and if I’m not careful I’ll be running out of space.
It’s always fun to explore a blast from the past, not only to remind us of how far we’ve advanced in computing but also to give an old machine a new lease of life.