49

I have access to several meters of manuals of various sorts around CP/M on PCs and various bits on mainframes. These are earmarked to go after decades of "cannot dump that" heartbleed. Most are originals, but also many copies. I helped to put some on eBay but nobody wanted them. What should I do?

Is there a postal address to which we can send several parcels?

Edit: Thank you for the suggestions. The problems with those have also been raised. The folks with these kinds of manuals in their attic/cellar are unlikely to happily invest a couple of 1000s of $/€/whatever to get those digitized. Skimming through those manuals one easily recognizes the cores/seeds of today's technologies, also the introductions are nice. But most striking are the touch and feel of some excellent quality folders, typically. Some come with leather. Others just just feel rock solid with nice colors and have wonderful separators for the chapters throwing your antique favorite technical keywords at you. You don't kill them, being digital or not. And I am afraid I would be in trouble for putting them up as a piece of craft and decoration at our place - but that is what they (often) are - both your mind and for your physical habitat.

  • 15
    Look at the list at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_computer_museums if you have a museum nearby. In that case, contact them and ask if they are interested. Some of them scans old documents to make sure they are preserved. – UncleBod Aug 14 at 14:51
  • 3
    You should save them. Punch cards are coming back, you know. This "USB drive" stuff is just a passing fad. :-) – Jay Aug 15 at 18:35
  • The more pressing question: How to protect yourself from frivolous copyright infrigement harassment? – rackandboneman Aug 15 at 19:25
  • 2
    You mean, assault any complainant with a monitor stand? – rackandboneman Aug 16 at 21:02
  • 1
    @ChrisBouchard I'm already using old academic journals for monitor stands: my monitor doesn't need to be any higher! – Kaz Aug 18 at 19:37
41

You could have a look on bitsavers.org. They catalogue and preserve computer manuals. If you have any unique manuals which are not yet catalogued on there, I am sure they would accept a scanned copy, but not in the form of dead trees.

  • 27
    "I have a VERY large backlog of material to scan and don't actively sollicit material to work on." says the web page. – snips-n-snails Aug 14 at 21:14
  • 2
    @snips-n-snails To clarify (I hope), Bitsavers is not actively soliciting paper items to scan. I think they'll still accept and archive PDFs. I contributed a scanned manual there as recently as 2015. – jeffB Aug 15 at 18:37
30

First, check if the documents aren't already present on Bitsavers and Archive.org. If you do have something unique that hasn't been scanned yet, you can maybe try the new initiative announced today by Jason Scott aka @texfiles:

Announcing SCANTASTIX, a project that @KevinSavetz and I have whipped up to go after a class of what I call "Unadvocated Materials" and can be summarized as "If you have a few extra bucks, you can ensure neat stuff gets scanned and put on the Internet Archive".

...

If you saw how we did the Ted Nelson Junk Mail project, this would be similar. We take boxes of material, loose or bound, and scan it into digital form and store away the originals.

Alternatively, you can try a service like 1dollarscan.com (there may be others)

  • 1
    I wonder how can 1dollarscan afford to provide scanning so cheap. Are there machines that scan books automatically? I cannot imagine a system that could turn pages of various books without many errors. – Tomáš Zato Aug 15 at 12:35
  • 2
    @TomášZato Cut off the back and it's just a stack of paper. Hope it doesn't get stuck in the stack-scanner and there you go, 1 dollar. – Mast Aug 15 at 16:10
  • 2
    @TomášZato I assume they cut off the spine and use sheet fed scanners (IIRC they mention somewhere that the books are destroyed during scanning). Note that the low price applies only to books with ISBN (probably they use it to not scan the same book twice); other materials are more expensive. – Igor Skochinsky Aug 15 at 16:11
  • 2
    @TomášZato if you have money there’s also this: treventus.com/automatic-book-scanner-scanrobot.html – Igor Skochinsky Aug 15 at 16:13
  • 1
    Here's a little bit about how Google does it. – Dennis Williamson Aug 15 at 20:14
10

I'd get a nice sheetfed document scanner, cut off the spines, and feed in the manuals one at a time. Then upload to archive.org.

  • 7
    The Internet Archive has services where you can donate books to them for them to scan. – forest Aug 15 at 2:55
  • 3
    If you can find a proper industrial guillotine paper cutter (perhaps not as old as that one) you'll get a very clean cut and need not even remove the covers yourself. Most print shops that do binding will have one. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 15 at 11:16
  • It's also not appreciated how difficult this actually is. It's a real hassle. A "nice sheetfeed document scanner" is not cheap. The local photocopy store charges more to scan documents than it does to copy them (over twice as much), and scanning can just flat out be finicky with jams, double feeds, etc. Add that to the idea of doing 1000's of pages and the headache adds up. – Will Hartung Aug 16 at 23:28
  • I've not checked scanning prices at the copy shop lately, but almost all business-level photocopier/printer units these days will do scanning just as easily. If it's expensive at a copy shop, consider finding someone who works in an office with one of these and asking him to run the cut sheets through. It's no different from a photocopying job except that no paper is used. – Curt J. Sampson Aug 19 at 8:23
5

Your options seem to be:

Additionally I'm sure that if you posted to the SDF bulletin board that someone there would definitely be interested

New contributor
Finn O'leary is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.
  • 1
    "Do nothing." and "Bin them." are also options. – Vince O'Sullivan Aug 16 at 13:15
  • 4
    @VinceO'Sullivan no! – mirabilos Aug 16 at 19:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.