When Basilio Kalpakian spots an old PC on the side of the road, he knows he’s struck gold. A self-described tinkerer, Basilio is an eye surgeon by day and a computer surgeon by night. His hobby and passion is bringing old PCs back to life and loading them up with Windows 10.
Each discarded unit is an opportunity to battle obsolescence. “What is interesting with Windows 10, is that it’s amazing how far you can go with the hardware that you have,” Basilio said. “I have computers that are running Windows 10, and they’re from 2004 or so.”
Typically, the discarded PCs need a good cleaning as well as a few components replaced. Basilio starts by opening up the panel and seeing what he has to work with. He’ll often upgrade the hard drive or RAM sticks. “Sometimes, you have to have a modern video card to make these things work better, so I’ll place that in the computer box as well,” he explained.
“Also, some central processing units (CPUs) aren’t NX bit enabled, and so I have to upgrade the CPU. I’ll take off the fan, take out the old CPU, put the compatible CPU in, and boom, behold, an old, 14-year old computer comes back to life with Windows 10.”
Image above: The insides of a previously discarded PC, ready to be tinkered with.
Basilio enjoys how generally flexible the Windows operating system is, which makes resuscitating old PCs possible. Of course, some very old PCs aren’t able to run Windows 10 due to the hardware’s lack of compatibility. But always undaunted, Basilio has loaded them with older versions of Windows that are still supported (Windows 8, 8.1, or 7) although “one challenge is that antivirus software is not readily available for the older systems. I prefer to use the free antivirus software, if possible.”
What does he do with the PCs once they’re ready to work again? He likes to donate them to community members in need.
Image above: An old computer gets a new lease on life with Windows 10, thanks to Basilio.
“Why have another computer go unused, when you can donate it to someone who can’t afford one?” Basilio said. “When someone—for example, a child in school—receives their first computer, their eyes light up. I think it means a lot to them.” He recounted how he gave a friend’s daughter her first computer, a PC laptop he rescued from ending up in a trash bin. That computer sparked a love for technology that the daughter, now in high school, talks about to this day.
“Of course, an older computer is not going to be anywhere near as fast as the new ones out there,” Basilio said. “But it’s so exciting to bring them back and to explore what’s possible.”