What is the history of the (computer) recycling bin?


The recycle bin in question is one you won’t find in your kitchen but on your computer desktop.  The concept is simple.  It is a folder where deleted files are kept so they can be browsed before they are either permanently deleted or undeleted.

So why have I decided to write an article on the computer recycling bin?  Well, it’s a bit of a long shot but the folder introduces the concept of recycling to everybody who uses a computer (most people) in a simple way.  Let me know what you think.  Here is a short history…

Apple The recycle bin concept was first developed by Apple in 1982 as the trash can on the Apple Mac computer.  In early versions of Apple Finder (Apple’s file manager programme) deleted files were stored in volatile memory so were deleted when the user’s session ended.  When Finder Version 7 was released in 1991, the concept had evolved into became a desktop folder (image right) that retained the contents of deleted files until the user decided to delete them.

Apple tried to copyright the concept to prevent rival systems such as Windows from copying but lost most of the court cases.  In the end the original  Apple Trash icon was found to be original so given copyright status but the concept was widely copied.  Apple continues to use the Trash icon on its Apple computers on Mac OS X operating system (image right).

Windows Microsoft Windows developed its own version called the Recycle Bin that has been in place since Windows 95 operating system.  The image has evolved with successive systems to reflect improving graphics.  The latest Windows 7 version is shown right.

Linux Open-source Linux desktop systems GNOME, KDE, and Xfce provide a trash mechanism but there is traditionally no simple way to trash something from the command-line.  However third-party applications can provide commands on the command-line to use the trash.

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4 comments

  1. who is Dorcas? I am not sure you are a real person so i’m not sure I should dignify your question with a response…

  2. well there is a line of thought that suggests the concept of a recycle bin on a computer desktop may help the everyday person to be introduced to the concept…

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