Junk Drawer

BREA, California – Every engineer on Earth has at least one junk drawer full of old cables, wires, switches and other electronic detritus.  At my last gathering of retirees at the Olde Ship Pub, we thought it would be amusing to see if an engineer’s age could be determined by what’s in his or her junk drawer(s).  Although we rarely agree on anything, there was a general consensus on what would likely be found.  We further decided on four broad age categories:  25-35, 36-45, 46-60 and Over 60.  The list gets a bit longer with age because naturally you have more time and space to accumulate junk.  Junk is such a harsh word.  I prefer the term “superannuated materiel.”


Thumb drive

Thumb drives with capacity measured in gigabytes

No tools at all

Original iPhone cables (non-Lightning)

Second generation Bose headphones



Tiny screwdrivers

Thumb drives with capacity measured in megabytes

Only one set of tiny screwdrivers

Firewire cables

First generation Bose headphones

Several printer power cables

Small flashlight with dead batteries



Blank CDs

Two sets of tiny screwdrivers

Serial & parallel ports

Cables with serial and parallel port connectors

Token Ring network documentation


A half dozen printer power cables

Size “N” batteries for HP calculator



3-1/2” and 5-1/4” floppy discs, possibly 8”

A/B switch

A/B switch for the television

At least three sets of tiny screwdrivers with some missing

Electrical tape

Cable with a Centronics connector

Old hearing aids

Centronics connector

A dozen identical printer power cables

An inked printer ribbon

Broken Atari game controller

Betamax copy of “Animal House”

Hundreds of loose screws

Daisy wheel

Daisy wheel printer head


What does your junk drawer reveal?  My cohorts at the pub say that my junk drawer has only steam-powered devices.


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