Do you guys ever both salvaging your old tech? What's the oldest equipment worth bothering with before Moore's law renders it completely useless?
Depends on what your application is and how old we are talking about. Are you salvaging the parts to use or to sell. Sometimes it's more worth while to sell certain things whole. I for one personally collect vintage calculators (1960s-70s). Others might be after antique radios or TVs or other such devices. Some people can be tempted to salvage them for valuable internal components like nixie tubes, but sometimes with particularily rare machines, collectors are more interested int he machine than the parts, even if the unit doesn't necessarily work.
Me personally, I save any and all germanium transistors and diodes, as they are very hard to come by these days. Though I save them, they really are only worth using for repairs of old tech. germanium diodes do have a lower voltage drop (around .3 volts, vs silicon's .7 volts) so you might find a good use for them in some applications. I also save hybrid modules, which are sort of like mini circuits on epoxy dipped ceramic plates. Those can be very hard to find, but typically are device and manufacturer specific. Again, mostly only useful for repairs of vintage devices. I also save any tubes I come across.
Are you a hobbyist or someone who does projects? LEDs, switches, etc can be sure fire salvage saves that almost always find re-use. Depending on the types of projects you tend to do, look for parts you tend to use frequently.
You mention Moore's law... Are you talking about PC hardware? I guess as long as parts work, there might be a use for them. Even an older PC might serve as an email machine, or a media box. If it functions, a wipe and a post on something like craigslist or freecycle can give it new life for someone else. As for parts, I am using a pair of power supplies in my new PC build. I'll evenually replace them both with a nice new one, but with a simple jumper wire tying the activation pins together, you can have one motherboard activate two supplies, and use the second supply for things like hard drives, etc. Alternately, just adding a simple switch between the activation line and ground can give you a nice stand alone power supply for projects that supplies 3.3v, 5v, and 12v for projects (I think there is also a low current -5v supply as well). Fans and heatsinks might find reuse... or you might just recycle the heatsinks... It all depends on whether you think you can use them or not.
Modern electronics has fewer and fewer generic discrete components than ever before. In the past, you could repurpose nearly any part of a machine. Now a days, parts are extraordinarily application specific. In general, when LSI intergrated circuits started displacing discrete components, products began to have fewer and fewer user reusable components inside. High density SMT tech makes reuse even more difficult.
I'd actually say, if you are into old electronics, the older stuff is more reusable than the new stuff... by orders of magnitude...
If you are talking about modern devices liek PCs and such... The newer the better, but as long as you can make use of the parts, then just use them. I have an old 9 year old Mac. It's slow as can be, but it still is fine for email and can play video and such. Yeah, it's slow, but it's not without use. Just consider what the best use for something is, and roll with it.
If you are asking about salvaging parts from the old computer.
Ram - Ram has upgrade a lot since 10 years its gone from SDRAM, DDR, DDR2, and RAMBUS (RDRAM) these cannot be mixed! (Most new computers have DDR2)
Hard Drive - Most of the hard drives today are now on SATA2 its much quicker than SATA (a few years older) and much quicker than IDE. Connecting the 2 would not be recommended... at all.
Fans - Only if you are building a computer.
Video card/Sound card - if you bought a video/sound card you can bring it over to your new computer, if its better ( check computer specs to be sure )
Only thing i could Imagen you could save is the CD drive. its always good to have at least 2 Cd-Drives. In case of an essay writing service, you can get the exact details from them.
If you are talking about tearing down a piece of equipement, I'd say all the electro-mechanicals. They do cost a lot compare to chips and passives. Stepper motors, sensor and other special items you can't find easily, in low volume at least.
If you have a LOT of old tech to include boards with gold-plated edge connectors, ICs and transistors with gold-plated leads, relays with gold-plated contacts... anything with gold on it, really... it could pay to process to recover the gold. I think this was done twenty or so years ago when a lot of aging mainframe stuff and telephone relay racks became available on the surplus market. The gold reclaimers would chop the equipment up, slice off gold-plated finger-contacts on circuit boards, disassemble connectors with gold-plated contacts, cut off gold-plated IC and transistor leads, cut off the contacts of open-frame relays, and similar butcher jobs before chemically reclaiming the gold. Today, there is not so much worth salvaging from old tech unless it's something you want personally for nostalgia, authenticity in a restoration project, or similar motivations. For example, Nixie tubes and MagicEye signal indicators are becoming rare if you are interested in such things. Otherwise, for the past twenty or so years I have always found it is less expensive (more bang for the buck) and much less problematical to simply buy new. Like, what did you do with your first cell phone? Unless it was a model that would fit only in a shoe box (which probably makes it a collectable), there is probably not much use for it today.
I mainly salvage pre 1960s gear. My priorities are:
1. Variable capacitors
2. Variable inductors
3. High wattage resistors
4. Vernier knobs, especially with internal gear drives