Journey Into the Valley of Electronic Death
We all have a drawer or box brimming with ancient A/V wires. See what columnist Steve Castle found in his.
wire mess
Look familiar?
April 09, 2007 by Steven Castle

Maybe this has happened to you: I recently needed to find a little wire for an electronics device and opened what I call the Valley of Electronic Death. It’s a drawer in an old desk that’s chock full of every kind of computer cable/adapter/telephone cord I’d probably used in the past decade or so but probably hadn’t used in the previous 24 months.

Not only did I have to wrench this drawer open, but I also had to fish out virtually every obsolete cord to find what I was seeking. The pile of black, white and gray spaghetti seemed to mock me from the floor of my home office.

But I had a few laughs. Wow, was that a parallel cable that once linked an ancient desktop computer to a long-defunct printer? The connector was almost as wide as my fist. Its primitive form reminded me a Jurassic-era beast. And fittingly, it had been buried beneath a pile of USB cables. This was like excavating for dinosaurs in the way-out west!
Oh look, there’s a serial cable that once tethered a monitor to a computer tower. I haven’t used one of those since I went “laptop” years ago, but I guess they’re still in use. I also unearthed a disturbing number of automobile cigarette-lighter adapters. Yikes! I should banish them to an equally obsolete place in my car.

Of course, there’s always the mystery cord one finds in these places. Its appearance is often accompanied by a “What’s this?” as one yanks the chunky plug-in module and slowly unearths the accompanying tether, which is somehow knotted to every other cord. Even more mysteriously, the one I pulled out had this weird little inch-wide clip that I could not identify. Hmm, experts confer. Most likely extinct cell phone adapter from the Pleistocell Epoch of the early 1990s.

I am embarrassed to say that other artifacts found in the drawer included a Sony Walkman of the Audio Cassettus genus. Hey these days, you never know when a nuclear winter might occur and the only music that may play in my duct tape palace could be a box of old audiocassettes. Perhaps in a few years I’ll be digging old iPods out of that same drawer.

There were also a couple of minitape recorders once used to record interviews. It made me wonder if I could locate a two-line cordless phone with answering machine, caller ID and a way to TiVo my phone interviews without using multiple devices. In the 1980s, I had this really cool phone with its own answering machine built in—and instead of ringing, the little voice inside it said, “You have a telephone call.” Only it didn’t work as well after a few months, and at 5 a.m., it would often intone, “You have a telephone. … You have a telephone. … You have a telephone.” And no, I did not dig that out of the Valley of Electronic Death, because I did not have the telephone for long after that.

But back to that little cord I was seeking. It was just a telephone microphone for one of those minicassette recorders. And it still worked.

So, what’s in your drawer?

Steve CastleSteve Castle is senior editor of Electronic House magazine

Follow Electronic House on Facebook and Twitter.

Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

FREE Charter Platinum Membership
Claim your FREE Charter Platinum Membership to EH Network and receive 6 FREE issues of EH Magazine.*
First Name
Last Name
Email Address

We understand your email address is private. By granting you access to the EH Network, you agree to receive email communications from us, including our newsletters. You can manage your subscription at any time in the future.
* The new EH Network launches and your free subscription begins December 2014.


Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.