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The Computer Recycling Bin

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Although most people do not think of computers having been around readily until the 1980s and 1990s, for those in the correct fields computers were being used much earlier. Those using these computer had a need to be very careful about how they used their files however, because once a file was deleted, it was lost permanently. It seems easy to assume that on a number of occasions individuals would have lost their work that may have been needed at a later date, by either deleting a file that they didn’t expect to need later on, or deleting it accidentally. In 1982, the Apple company found a way of solving this problem. They introduced what was to become the first computer recycling bin, called the trash folder.

Soon to follow many variations of the trash folder began to pop up amongst competing companies. These folders, aimed at saving items temporarily once they had been deleted to prevent accidental loss of work, came under other names such as the smart eraser, the shredder, and the recycling bin. When originally created these folders temporarily saved the documents for a set amount of time before deleting them. Currently however, most operating systems have the files purged from the folder when those operating the system choose for this to happen. By today’s standards, most everyone has a computer with a recycling bin on their desktop that is often taken for granted given current technology, however when a file is lost due to either computer or human error, it is easy to understand why Apple created the idea of a recycling bin in the first place.

When the competitors followed Apple’s lead in the use of the recycling bin, they sued for use of their idea. The courts ruled that Apple did not have a copyright on the idea, but did have a copyright on the icon used for it, so competing company’s were granted permission to barrow the idea so long as they created their own design of icon to go along with it. When apple was taken over and became Apple Macintosh, the recycling bin doubled with another function. When a CD was in the computer, the CD icon could be clicked and dragged onto the recycling bin, and instead of deleting, the disk drive was caused to open to eject the disk.

When using a computer for work, school, or other important documents, it is always best to be mindful of what is done with each document. While having a trash can or recycling bin on a computer will never fully eliminate the possibility for human or mechanical error, it certainly does help.



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