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Not sure if retro is proper place... I have two old notebooks with x86 processors in the 100s range of MHz. While nostalgics might appreciate them, I'm wondering if there is any proper point in keeping them. The hardware is modern enough such that to the best of my knowledge nothing would exclusively run on them but not on a current PC, whereas using them for modern applications sounds like a horrible idea in terms of energy efficiency. But just disposing of them (properly, of course) also sounds like pity... So what are, objectively, the best options?

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    I'm not sure I'd use the term /stone age/, as these are considerably more modern than what this SE generally deals with, but I do see the problem. Some people are building high-spec Win9x gaming machines from desktop hardware of that era, but notebooks are indeed a bit of problem, as they usually offer less performance and are not expandable. Unless it's an iconic design (like the Thinkpad 701's butterfly keyboard) or I had a personal connection to a machine (the one I, say, typed my thesis on), I probably wouldn't keep it. Jan 31 '21 at 10:16
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    Your're only digging yourself deeper into that hole ;-) There are some 10+ years of x86 history before we get to the 100s of MHz, and while I would find a mid-80s laptop computer eminently collectible simply because how early they were, this doesn't hold (for me) for a mid-to-late 90s machine. Jan 31 '21 at 10:27
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    Without saying anything more about the age, I'd say it is very important to know exactly which make and model they are. If they are rare things you stand a chance that someone is interested.
    – UncleBod
    Jan 31 '21 at 11:16
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    The stone age ended ten years ago. It has always ended ten years ago. When I took my first programming course in 1962, the stone age had ended in 1951. Jan 31 '21 at 17:24
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    10 years ago? I don't know. I can remember the 1970s and the 1980s a whole lot better than I can remember the 2000s and the 2010s. Computers from way back when were different from each other and different from the computers of today in all kinds of interesting ways. But in the last 10 years? Uh, lessee... they do better on various performance benchmarks, and they have more memory, and removable media has mostly disappeared, but has anything else changed? Jan 31 '21 at 23:29
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The hardware is modern enough such that to the best of my knowledge nothing would exclusively run on them but not on a current PC

This statement partially answers your question, given that the idea of a "current PC" isn't frozen in time. 10 or 20 years hence, you may find it much more difficult to find a "current PC" that can utilize the old software (or, more importantly, your data) that worked perfectly well on that old hardware you decided to recycle 10 years earlier.

Using them for modern applications sounds like a horrible idea in terms of energy efficiency

A computer, like any tool, always works best when used as it was intended. So you have a very valid point here that old hardware that wasn't designed with the latest version of Windows or some application in mind won't work to the same level as the new hardware that was designed for the latest OS and applications.

Conversely (to use an analogy), I still have the same hammer in my toolbox that I bought 30 years ago and I've found that the nails I want to drive haven't really changed.

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