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Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Is Trying To Save a Huge Storage Room of Manuals 48

martiniturbide writes: Remember Jason Scott of Textfiles.com, who wanted your AOL & Shovelware CDs earlier this year? Right now -- at this moment! -- he trying to save the manuals in a huge storage room that was going to be dumped. It is a big storage room and some of these manuals date back to the thirties. On Monday a team of volunteers helped him to pack some manuals to save them. Today he needs more volunteers at "2002 Bethel Road, Finksburg, MD, USA" to try to save them all. He is also accepting Paypal donations for the package material, transportation and storage room payment. You can also check his progress on his twitter account.
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Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Is Trying To Save a Huge Storage Room of Manuals

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  • ...of him wanting our AOL cds [slashdot.org]...

    Good luck to him, but it's hard to say how valuable instruction manuals are if the machines they instruct in the use of no longer exist.
    • by Tx ( 96709 )

      Yes. What's he going to do with them, scan them? I didn't get anything from the links except that he's trying to "save" them, no explanation of what for. If he's just going to store them somewhere else, then I have to wonder what the point is, as the chances of them ever falling in to the hands of someone who is going to find them useful are pretty small. At least if they're scanned and OCRed, there's a decent chance at least some of them will end up being useful.

      • by bigdady92 ( 635263 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2015 @09:37AM (#50339071) Homepage
        Since he works with/at the Internet Archive he will be scanning all these documents in and posting them online for everyone to see and view.

        He cannot do the scanning right now as the owners need to close the warehouse down and cull the books.

        The owners are going through and tossing duplicates into the dumpster and leaving only 1 or 2 good copies of the manuals, this will cut down on the clutter and make the packing and sorting easier. The logistics are still being worked on but he's got a few storage units and after everything is moved out then the process of scanning/copying begins.

        Being that he works with/at the biggest digital hoarding warehouse on the interwebs I think we will see 10s of thousands of interesting and bizzare reads coming out of this haul in the next years. Granted 99% of this stuff isn't around any more but the information may be useful down the road to someone looking to recreate some tech that was done decades ago but no one remembers how it was done (Apollo rocket engines, samurai swords, types of pottery, etc.)

        Amicable goal and I wish I was there to help.
        • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 18, 2015 @09:54AM (#50339207) Homepage Journal

          Granted 99% of this stuff isn't around any more

          I looked briefly to see "why should I care" and I saw they were saving a bunch of old workshop manuals for obscure electronics equipment. And then I had a sort of Fallout fantasy in my head for a few seconds about someone digging the frequency analyzer I just picked up at the flea market out of the rubble and getting the documentation needed to repair it from this archive :)

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          A good example is electronic signals taught in Electrical Engineering books. I found myself having a hard time getting reliable information about MFM/RLL harddrive encoding. Then one day I open this ancient book I grabbed at the library sell-off 10 years ago. Entire chapter on it.

          Another great example is Palm OS programming. After they went belly up the developer portal and all non 3rd party information went into the void. Thankfully this guy managed to save in bulk most of the important documentation and s

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Granted 99% of this stuff isn't around any more but the information may be useful down the road to someone looking to recreate some tech that was done decades ago but no one remembers how it was done (Apollo rocket engines, samurai swords, types of pottery, etc.)

          Additionally, those old manuals could be instrumental in establishing prior art for some of the stupid business method/code patents that keep cropping up, much like that ~90 year old page of sheet music that was found recently that might just slam-dunk the Happy Birthday copyright into the public domain.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Then donate. I don't want to be the only one. Actually, I am sure I am not the only one. Still, dig deep and donate. This is important.

        • "Granted 99% of this stuff isn't around any more" -that seems harsh considering how many 80's and 90's era scopes, voltmeters, and analyzers of various kinds are still in use across the country! I use an HP/Agilent dynamic analyzer (3562a, 35665a, 35670a) almost every day at work. Sure, newer stuff might have more features but for fast, accurate, calibrated measurements in literally seconds nothing beats late Cold War era hardware that HAD to work and get stuff done daily. OK, so I'm probably the wrong pers
      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Some acquaintances of mine were the authorized distributor of electronic Mopar factory service manuals. The act of creating the electronic manual from the paper manual to professional standards is extremely involved. Flawless or nearly-flawless books have to be found, then they have to be cut apart with precision paper-handling equipment to separate the pages from the spines while leaving the pages of a uniform size. They're scanned, but since they're old the scanning process has to be baby-sat to deal w
        • by hjf ( 703092 )

          are you really underestimating the power of things like reCAPTCHA for stuff like this?

        • OTOH creating the electronic equivilent of a ratty photocopy is pretty easy.

          While dealing with the electronic equivilent of a ratty photocopy is not exactly pleasant it's usually better than not having any documentation at all.

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          So what's the excuse why FSM of the modern age that were completely created electronically still cost an arm and a leg, and the electronic version even more? I can get a paper version for my 2005 Rendezvous for $200, or an online version for $20 for 3 days, $150 for 1 month, or $1200 for a year.

          I remember back when I had a 1990 Talon. Some kind soul within the community acquired the FSM, trimmed the spin, and hand scanned every page into a PDF. Was the quality perfect? Not even close. Was it more than usa

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            Because the nature of the demand for the product allows them to charge that for it.
        • Flawless or nearly-flawless books have to be found, then they have to be cut apart with precision paper-handling equipment to separate the pages from the spines while leaving the pages of a uniform size.

          I suddenly have a new appreciation for spiral bound manuals, ring binder manuals. :-)

          Good news for Apple II and Commodore 64 programmers reference manuals, IBM PC reference manuals, the 1983 pre-hardware release Inside Macintosh manual.

          BTW, the precision paper cutting equipment should be somewhat common. Nearly every print shop (in the "printing press" sense not the "kinkos laser printer" sense) would have (had) such equipment, including high school shops.

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            This is true. The main reason I mentioned it is that the people that made the manuals would often have people offer a book to them, not having any idea how much work it takes and how it destroys the original, and how even relatively-common specialized equipment is needed that most people do not have ready access to.
    • Whatever makes you think the machines no longer exist? There is tons of old equipment available at hamfests, ebay and various surplus outlets. This stuff is what allows young hobyists that don't have their employer's bank acount backing them get into electronics in the first place! If these were scanned and placed online this would be a tremendous value to a lot of people.

  • Seems like a planning problem. Storage is a drop in the bucket for a big org and there could be some goodwill for this, plus maaaaaybe some utility for anyone who supports legacy systems. Does LOC want them? Smithsonian? Some tech museum? Or one of the big tech companies?

  • Came on, help this guy save these manuals. https://www.flickr.com/photos/... [flickr.com]
  • This reminded me of my search for a 1930s(I think) mashpriborintorg russian AVO meter schematic. It took weeks to find.
    They're still usable because they're the easiest thing to test some kinds of transistors. and they're really hard to find.
    and I got to collect like a hoard of other manuals for similar devices.
  • by jerel ( 112066 ) on Tuesday August 18, 2015 @11:18AM (#50339961)
    This is the guy who spent his time and mostly his own money to document the quickly-fading memory of Bulletin Board Systems in a documentary. I know because he came all the way to California and interviewed me and many others who were sysops back in the day. My board was very minor but he was gracious enough to travel to the small town where I now live to interview me. I have a great deal of respect for him and his efforts at preservation. Some day someone will be asked to preserve Jason's life and legacy and I hope they can apply the same zeal he brings to his efforts to their own. He's not curing cancer or landing a man on the moon, but somebody who takes the time to preserve the slightly less critical aspects of our tech history deserves support and credit. Good for him.
    • Your comment reinforced my conviction that I had to make it over there. Glad I did. Jason is a great fellow and I'm glad I was able to help out, even if only in a minor capacity.

You can not get anything worthwhile done without raising a sweat. -- The First Law Of Thermodynamics

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