Find of the Week

Sometimes, all the Goodwill has in stock is in the tier of hideous “collectible” figurines with menacing expressions and missing limbs. At others, their appraisers have gotten ambitious, and there is a mountain of cool stuff in stock, but only because it is priced beyond the limits of even the harshest hipster markup. Fairly regularly though, there’s something neat among the picture puzzles and church retreat souvenir tumbler glasses.

Today I found gold lying on the test bench next to a bunch of TVs and old stereo components:

It’s a Craig model 1605 clock radio, manufactured by the Sanyo Electric Company.

The clock function doesn’t work, which is typical. Usually the motor is burned out or the gear train is damaged somehow. I’ve only run into a few that have worked when I tested them in the store, and of those the one that stayed running the longest lasted under a year.

It’s a very cool looking unit, and while the clock doesn’t work all the other functions do, and it has an output for external speakers. I’m going to use it as an FM tuner for my stereo for now.

I’ve been collecting old flip digit clocks for a while now since they’re still common enough that broken ones are cheap even for the rarer designs. What I’d like to do in the future is replace the fragile motor and gear train with a computer controlled servo to actuate the flip digit display. I’d love to be able to use one of them daily and not have to worry about when it will inevitably fail and leave me late for work or something.

I also found this neat old thing at Free Geek for two bucks. I bought it mostly for the old school Apple logo sticker on top but I’ll probably use it as a switch box for some stuff in the garage. I remember having something similar for my Apple IIE at some point, way back when.

Some purpose, and the GRiD 1139

One of the things I’d like to do now that I have some real hosting for this domain is get some old content online that I’ve been intending to put up somewhere for years.

First thing to get the honor is a set of photos I took of a GRiD 1139 portable computer I owned until last year. I first got my hands on it back in… I think the late 90s? It was mixed in with a lot of surplus equipment my dad bought from the municipality at auction. It wasn’t of much interest to me at the time, but it was unusual enough that I kept it rather than let it be sent to the landfill (yeah, I know) with the other too old to be useful stuff that had accompanied the gear that my dad had actually been after.

It languished on a shelf for a long, long time in my room at my parents house. I briefly used the built in spreadsheet app on it to keep inventory for the student store at my high school. Then it went back into hibernation for a few more years. I dug it out again last year while I was cleaning out a bunch of my old stuff I’d left at my parent’s place when I left Anchorage to go to school in Portland. I was somewhat astonished to find it still worked. After messing around with it a bit I got to researching what exactly I had on my hands, and most importantly if it was actually worth anything.

Turns out, it was worth a lot. The 1139 has a number of characteristics that make it pretty collectible. It has unusual hardware (non-volatile bubble memory, an amber plasma display) wrapped in one of the first clamshell type portable cases (made of magnesium!) It also has some historical relevance, 1139s having been used on the space shuttles (, and some pop culture exposure via the movie Aliens (

I put it, and some other less interesting GRiD machines, on eBay, and was pleasantly surprised to receive a high bid for the 1139 of around $400 from a collector in Austria. Prior to making the sale though, I indulged my curiosity and took the machine down to its bones to see what the guts looked like. The rest of the pictures from this exercise are below: