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Trashing - An Artform Revisited
by Taper/Triad

In the early 80's when I was just a little kid, I got my first experience of dumpster diving, among sceners known as "trashing". However, not having an advanced vocabulary back then, I simply called it "jumping into a container". My main goal of this garbage extravaganza was to source material for a soapbox car I tried to build. It didn't turn out too good to be honest, and it all ended up with my grandfather building me a proper one, but that's another story altogether...

Later on, when the scene was all that interested me, I teamed up with some sceners on nightly trashing raids in the industrial areas around Helsingborg, going through dumpsters on a semi-regular basis. Apart from local Amiga, PC and Console sceners, also Skyhawk/Laxity and Joyride/Noice participated in these garbage raids. We had a great time, often starting out by having a burger at the 24/7 open McDonald's in the area, sharing the latest scene gossip, learning what was new on other platforms and exchanging tips and tricks on the most diverse subjects that could interest a scener. Also, it was a good idea to start off with a meal, as you really didn't feel too hungry after raiding dumpsters. At times we encountered lunchboxes from last week, which didn't smell too good...

Apart from the usual garbage, we also sourced some neat material, including computer parts, interesting information, electronic gear and other stuff that made the effort worthwhile. I especially remember one time when we returned from a nights scouting with more than 20 harddrives found in a dumpster. Some were old RLL drives that we probably didn't have much need for even back then (I still have one of those stashed away as a memory though). However, there were also some 40 and 80 MB SCSI harddrives that we divided among us and used for various purposes.

However, as time passed this local gang of sceners scattered as people moved to other cities, and basically we just grew older and the thrill of diving into dumpsters during the nights faded away.

So, why am I bringing the subject up again? Well, recently I had to get rid of a bunch of crap after cleaning out the garage, so I went to the local garbage dump/recycling station. While I was throwing away my garbage, I sent my girlfriend over to check if there was something interesting in the pile of electronic junk. She returned and said she saw a datasette, but no C64. There is seldom smoke without fire, so I decided to take a look myself aswell. The datasette was on the top of the pile, badly smashed, so I didn't bother to rescue it. After a few minutes of searching I saw something familiar in a corner of the metalcage containing the junk. And yes, it was a C128D!

At first I couldn't locate the keyboard for it, but while keeping an eye out for any bad tempered employee that most probably would have thrown me out for digging in their junkpile, I kept working my way down to the bottom of the cage. Hard work paid off that day, and naturally the keyboard was located at the very bottom, covered with everything from old PC monitors, VHS players and satellite dishes. Three keys had come of, and it looked out of shape, but it could have been worse. At least I found it...

Back home, I started to give my treasure some loving attention. After cleaning the plastic, it looked decent on the outside. I attached the keyboard and powered it up. The familiar C128 screen appeared, and the C64 mode worked aswell. Except for the three broken keys, the keyboard worked fine too. The drive didn't want to load anything though, so I inserted my RetroReplay and ran some one-file demos from it. To my delight, they ran as they should, and the SID was alive and well! After some work, I got the internal 1571 to load stuff too, although it's still not as reliable as it should be.

This awakened old memories from the dumpsterdiving days, and since then I try to keep a close eye on the electronic junkpile whenever I visit the recycling station (which has been more frequent aswell). The last couple of months I've also found an 8 kB cartridge without case for the C64, a chipped PSX, some Sega Megadrive joypads and two wireless Megadrive pads with receiver, all in working order.

It kinda surprises and horrifies me that people are so keen on throwing away things they easily can earn some bucks on by simply putting them up for sale on ebay. I don't even want to think about how much good Commodore hardware that has been smashed to pieces at recycling stations during the years. But it also provides us with an opportunity to try to salvage as much useful stuff as possible. Next time you visit your local garbagedumpster or recycling station, be sure to scan for interesting electronics...

Good luck, fellow dumpster divers!


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