Old computer parts still have usefulness

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003

ANCHORAGE - Two piles of used floppy disk drives lie on the floor of a South Anchorage computer shop - one for functional drives, the other for broken ones. Bill Fulton has designs on each.

"These are maybe 3 years old, and they still work," Fulton said, pointing to the larger pile. They'll be used in refurbished computer systems or sold separately for a few dollars each.

"These ones are dead," he said, pointing to the smaller pile. "I'll turn them into a coffee table once I get enough."

What started out as a hobby of sorts has become a side business for Fulton, an independent technology consultant who does computer work for small and medium-sized companies. He and partner Mark "Cadillac" Jackson, who owns a computer shop on the Old Seward Highway just south of Dowling Road, recently started a company called Alaska Computer Recycling.

They aren't full-service electronics recyclers. They'll take only computers - no monitors, printers, mice or any other peripherals.

And what they do with the computers falls outside the bounds of what most people might think of when they hear the word "recycling."

First, they get rid of the computer cases - the metal boxes that house the components. They are melted down at Alaska Metal Recycling, which accepts them for about $10 per pickup load, Fulton said.

As for the rest of it? The circuit boards, hard drives, microprocessors, memory chips and other components? Fulton and Jackson are still figuring that out as they go along.

Circuit boards have become wall and ceiling tiles, covering an ever growing portion of the store. Once that's done, they'll start on an order to tile the Vortekx Gaming Center down the Seward Highway near the intersection with Dimond Boulevard, Fulton said.

Blown hard drives? They make good floor tiles. Obsolete memory modules? Dab on a little paint, tie on flies and attach treble hooks and they become fishing lures.

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