15 Uses for Obsolete Technology
With each successive step forward in technology, humanity gets a little bit better at solving medical problems, gathering knowledge, and streaming '80s sitcoms.
Unfortunately, with progress comes obsolescence—and obsolescence tends to create a lot of waste. If you’re not in the mood to hold a yard sale and you don’t want to toss your Betamax or Walkman in a landfill, you might take some inspiration from these 15 ways people have recycled their old tech.
1. THE VHS TOASTER
We can’t exactly advocate wiring an old VHS recorder so it contains heating elements and a rapid-eject feature. We can advocate watching someone else do it.
2. THE COMPUTER MONITOR KITTY CONDO
AlpineButterfly via Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5
Flat screen displays have made it easy to forget how cumbersome CRT monitors were. It turns out all of that spacious real estate is perfect for cat occupancy once you’ve ripped out the tube.
3. CASSETTE TAPE ART
Artists like Nathalie Santa and Erika Iris Simmons have mastered the art of unspooling old audio cassettes and arranging the magnetic tape into fantastic portraits of famous figures.
4. A TV FISH TANK
DoerflerDesigns via Etsy
Console televisions are hideous. But they’re also pieces of furniture that can be upcycled into something approaching pop art. Several sites have instructions for creating a water-tight seal and turning the set into something that broadcasts an all-fish channel.
5. A TURNTABLE DRAWING ROBOT
Machine screws, clothespins, and a Sharpie are all you need to cobble together a kind of Spirograph using two turntables. Just make sure they have a variable pitch control so you can manipulate the speed of your automated doodles.
6. A FLOPPY DISK PENCIL HOLDER
GeekGear via Etsy
Depending on how old your kids are, they may think this floppy disk pencil holder is cool—or repurposed alien technology. Some light drilling and cable ties will bundle the old hardware together to make for an attractive, functional way to ease up on desk clutter.
7. MOTHERBOARD JEWELRY
HardResols via Etsy
The fine people at motherboredjewelry.com upcycle pieces of discarded motherboards, RAM chips, and other outdated computer guts to make fashionable, eco-friendly jewelry. We’re partial to the bookmarks.
8. VHS COVER SPIRAL NOTEBOOKS
WhyIsThisOpen via Instructables // CC-BY-NC-SA 2.5
It turns out that old cardboard VHS covers are exactly the right kind of durable to repurpose as a spiral notebook. All you’ll need are some pliers, a paper knife, and a ruler to remove the boring store-issued cover and replace it with your favorite Frank Stallone vehicle.
9. HOLIDAY ORNAMENT CDS
Glittery tree ornaments don’t have to be expensive. If you have unwanted CDs, you can smash them up—or use a good pair of scissors to snip them—and glue the individual pieces to a bare glass bulb. The effect is surprisingly cool, and a way better use for Richard Marx recordings than one would ever think possible.
10. AN APPLE iBOOK WALL CLOCK
PixelThis via Etsy
Apple laptops are so sleek that even one destined for the garbage bin makes for an attractive wall decoration. Several sellers on Etsy have used them to make hanging clocks, with the mouse doubling as a pendulum.
11. A FLOPPY DISK BAG
GeekkiBoutikki via Etsy
Gather a few dozen floppies, drill holes, and string them together using craft store chain links for a boxy-yet-awesomely-nostalgic piece of mobile storage.
12. A PC DESK FAN
Have a desktop chassis sitting in the basement that used to make an unholy noise with the fan? Turns out those little things are perfect to keep you cool in the warmer months. Some crafty people even use a hard drive as a stand.
13. A PC CASING MAILBOX
Amuse your mailperson by gutting an old desktop and mounting it out front to create a clever letter drop.
14. A PRINTER COIN TUMBLER
Ever wish you had a coin tumbler? Ever wish you could find a new use for an ancient printer? Solve two problems at once by modifying a printer to tumble and clean loose change.
15. A CD CASE BAGEL HOLDER
Not crafty or absolutely unable to craft anything without risking injury? You’re still in luck: The spindle from a stack of blank CDs is already the perfect size, shape, and configuration for a bagel. Bonus: the plastic cover keeps the bread from getting mushed while being transported.