Discarding computers debated Macs, monitors called out of date, not useless

September 04, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

Workers at Anne Arundel Community College tossed 16 Macintosh computers, monitors and all, into the trash last week along with grass clippings, damaging much of the equipment before it could be salvaged.

dTC Amy Seeley, an education specialist with Mac Service & Hardware in Arnold, gasped when she learned that the computers had been thrown out.

"I wish they wouldn't have done that -- they can be donated," she said.

Her company often helps Macintosh users who are upgrading their home computers find a school or organization that is happy to have the old one, she said.

Manufactured between 1989 and 1993, the type of computers the college threw away were outdated and had the equivalent of a 25 megahertz processor, but they still could have been used by small private schools, for example, Seeley said.

"They are old; it's not a power [personal computer], but you can run a lot of programs on that machine," she said.

The MacintoshII CIs could not be upgraded and had to be moved out of a humanities computer lab to make way for Acer Power PCs with Pentium 233 megahertz processors in time for the first day of classes Monday, Frances M. Turcott, spokeswoman for the college, said.

While the college donates used computers to county schools or sells them at auction, officials had not been able to get rid of machines as old as the Macintoshes, said Turcott.

Taking a hard look

After the dumping, Turcott said school technology officials would consider other ways to dispose of old computers.

"They're going to take a very hard look at how we dispose of old equipment," she said.

The machines likely would not have been modern enough or powerful enough to be useful in Anne Arundel County public schools.

The school system this year set a standard for donated computer equipment, requiring machines to be the equivalent of 486s, with 66 megahertz processors and eight megabytes of random access memory, according to Joan Henning, director of technology and information services. Schools are moving to PCs with multimedia capability, sound and compact disc, Henning said.

The college has often donated usable computers and equipment to the school system, Turcott said.

The college donated monitors, PCs and parts to the school system as recently as June, according to Turcott.

The discarding of the computers seems to have been an exception to the college's usual practice, said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for County Executive John G. Gary.


"We're pleased that their general practice is to try to find a new home for the computers," Ritter said. "It's unfortunate in this instance that that process didn't seem to work."

The county usually uses old computers from one office to replace even older computers in another office, Ritter said.

Student Thomas Ward, in his first semester of computer science studies, said the community college should be able to find some use for any old computer.

"Anything is upgradeable," said Ward, 29, of Severna Park. "Something needs to be reviewed, something needs to be changed," he said about the school's policy. "Anything that can be used, shouldn't be thrown away."

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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