I want to start off by asking a question. What do you use old computers for? Why do you own a "classic" computer? Many people would probably say that they really have no idea why they have one. Maybe you found the laptop you had 10 years ago for school or work and thought that you could play around with it again for a bit. Maybe you have no need for anything newer and rather not spend money to replace something that still works fine for your needs.
There is another reason though that I am sure many people would say. There are people like me who collect older computers and electronics. Perhaps, like me, you were too young to really remember that 486 you had back in 1993. Perhaps you got rid of that old computer. I still have my first Packard Bell 486 somewhere in my attic and I am hoping that I can find it one of these days and set it up again.
Sometimes, it is funny to look back at what was once considered the bleeding edge of technology. Just look at how far we have come in the past 20 years or so now. What was once considered a huge amount of space is no longer even good enough for a digital camera let alone a computer. We now live in an age where our cell phones can hold 64GB of data. We used to think that a 250MB hard drive was something that we would NEVER fill. Well look at how the times change.
Who would have thought that in 20 years we would have music collections that can fill even the most spacious iPod or other MP3 players. I remember when I had my first PDA, a Sony Clie SJ33. I had 2 memory sticks that held 128MB. Back in 2003, those cards cost me 50 dollars each and they were not even Sony branded.
But the point is this post isn't really to talk about how we can need a 500GB hard drive on a netbook, but to talk about what use an older computer can be. What would we call a classic? A classic car usually is 25 years old or so depending on who you ask. We need to remember that computers get older a LOT faster than a car. We could consider a PowerPC G5 Macintosh a classic now even though it could run OS X 10.5 Leopard with ease.
Why would we consider this a classic? It is getting harder to find software, like Office or Photoshop, or even the official Mac version of Firefox that still support the aging PowerPC architecture. I have an old Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 2002. Even with a 933MHz G4 processor and 1.5GB of RAM and OS X 10.5 Leopard, I cannot watch flash videos on it without stuttering.
So to most people, a computer like this old Mac would be considered trash. I don't think so at all. I embrace it because it is old. I can still run Office 2004, iTunes 10, Thunderbird 3, a PowerPC build of Firefox, and even the software for syncing up my Palm PDAs. This computer is far from useless, and it is far from being my oldest computer for sure.
I have an old ThinkPad A20M that I was given by a friend. It has some minor issues like a fan problem. The fan can only work if I use software to control it. The battery is also 100% shot. It turns off if you even bump the power for a second. Why do I keep this? It has a great keyboard. That is one of the things I will use an older computer for.
I have been working on a novel on and off. I like to have a distraction free computer sometimes so I can have better focus on my ideas. I also have been typing up recipes from books for a while so I can have them stored on my computer for easier use.
Sure, I may have a nice netbook, and my desktop though 5 years old now still works great for everything I need, I can't say that I wouldn't mind a newer one. The thing is, for me, I see no real reason to need more then what I have right now.
The point I want to make is that if something can run even the simplest of text editors and I have a way to get files on the device and take them off, it can be useful to me. I often try and track down a keyboard for my old PDAs that I collect for this very purpose.