Setting up a new computer often results in leftover slot covers, so what do you do with the slot covers?


When I joined Microsoft, I had a brand new computer waiting for me. One of the rites of passage for new employees is setting up their computer. A colleague helped me out with this effort, and one of the steps he performed was installing the network card. (Back in the day, network adapters were not integrated into the motherboard. If you wanted one, you had to buy an add-on card.)

Now, when you install a network card, it occupies a slot, and you need to remove the corresponding slot cover because the card comes with its own integrated slot cover. When my colleague removed the old slot cover from the computer, he didn't just toss it into the garbage. He folded it back on itself with the tab on the top, like this: ᔪ

What the heck was that all about?

He didn't give me time to ask the question because he immediately walked over to my office door, pulled it all the way open, and then jammed the doodad under the door. The tab at the top caught the door, and the angled bottom part dug into the carpet, holding the door open:

In other words, he took the slot cover and converted it into a doorstop.

Thereafter, I noticed that all of my coworkers used slot covers to hold their office doors open. It was part of the team's tribal knowledge.

(This trick is lost to history not only because computers nowadays come with all the peripherals you would typically need, but also because the new office doors are not spring-loaded.)

Comments (30)
  1. Joshua says:

    Neat. BTW we still get slot covers faster than doors but we never thought of that.

  2. alegr1 says:

    All those tricks will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

  3. Raphael says:

    I had the inverse problem: New motherboard in old case, with sound and network now integrated. And I don't need a modem anymore. Now how do I cover these slots?

  4. Marc says:

    I always just sliced my fingers to the bone on those things. They're sharp!

  5. Boris says:

    Wait, but isn't Raymond more the type who'd build or buy an actual doorstop, saving the cover just in case he needed to cover up an empty slot? I distinctly remember the blog post about the misuse of kitchen utensils.

    My psychic powers tell me that he would've picked up the improvised doorstop, bent it back into shape and stored it somewhere in his office.

  6. Adam Rosenfield says:

    Huh, ᔪ is from the Unified Canadian Aboriginal Syllabics block of Unicode.  That's a block I've never had occasion to look at before.

  7. SMW says:

    @alger1: Love the Blade Runner reference.

  8. Phil Beesley says:

    I riveted two together to make a hub cap puller for my car.

  9. Rick C says:

    @Rapahel, Raymond helpfully provided a link to buy some on Amazon.  Computers stores will usually sell 'em, too.

    I like how that link's categorized in "Hard Drive Enclosures".

  10. Dave says:

    Office door? There's 2 words we don't know here. (sigh. open office plan.)

  11. Stephan says:

    Whenever I'm given an old PC and end up recycling it rather than reusing it, I always pull anything useful first (cover plates, jumper shunts, etc.), so I've got a huge bundle of them rubber-banded together.

  12. Jimmy Queue says:

    I remember doing similar things with the left over slot covers. Alas it is a dying skill, just like adjusting the tracking on a VCR or tuning a TV manually.

  13. DWalker says:

    I sometimes build or upgrade computers for people, and I find myself occasionally buying slot covers.  It's hard to find solid (not "vented") black slot covers, but I finally managed to find some.

  14. Christian Vogel says:

    @Raphael, of course you reuse the old slot covers you saved and put in storage years ago when you still had to install expansion cards of various kinds.

  15. Blake says:

    I'm going to bet that was an Ungermann-Bass NIC, one of the few suitable for running the monolithic XNS stack for the Lan Manager.  Brings back memories.  Do you remember early static IP addresses being issued in the form of stickers a few years later?

  16. Antonio Rodríguez says:

    Unicode: making bitmaps unnecessary since 1988.

  17. cheong00 says:

    @Marc: Some computer cases are sold with screw fixed slot covers (I think some of them are made by GTR). When you add new cards, just unscrew it and remove the cover to add the card. Some cases made by HP just need you pull the spring connected hinge on the top to take the cover of individual slot away.

    Maybe next time when you need to buy a new computer, you'll want to spend some time to also look at the back of the cases.

  18. David says:

    Well, they could still be used for non-office (or non-office room) doors I suppose. There are still doors that tend to swing towards open or close, whether spring loaded or not.

    But I wonder if this doodad would be any use for non-carpeted flooring. Say vinyl, tile, hardwood – suppose it'd probably scratch it up. Bare concrete might be ok.

  19. Kai Schätzl says:

    No one mentions compatibility. Back in the olden Pentium days the slot covers often fit in other cases. And they came with a screw most of the time. Which was probably the common thing that made them compatible. Now (well, the "now" is for quite some time) they are all slightly different (just by millimeter) with different plastic hinges that make it hard to reuse even if they would fit. I've also seen (cheap) cases with one-way slot covers that you had to tear away from a dotted edge.

    BTW: there's also that pile of plastic covers for the front of the PC for Floppy (yeah!), CD-ROM etc.

  20. morlamweb says:

    Back when I used desktop PCs, I always kept the unneeded slot covers, "just in case" I needed one.  I probably had 12 or more in my collection of PC parts over the years.  How many did I actually use for their intended purpose, filling a hole in the PC case?  Maybe two.  I never thought of anything inventive like a door stop.  As a consequence, years later, when I was cleaning out my PC parts, the slot covers went in the recycle bin.

  21. Boris says:

    But why did Microsoft developers need doorstops in the first place? I thought the whole point of an office was to shut the door and enjoy working in privacy. How many people would enter and leave per minute? Was it impossible to open the door from the outside without a key(card), making it difficult for the occupant to get up and open them all the time? We need more irrelevant details.

    [Nothing so complicated. A closed door is more antisocial. -Raymond]
  22. MC says:

    Glad I'm not the only one with a collection of "just in case"  slot covers and drive blanking plates in various shades of case, beige, white, cream, black etc.    

  23. meh says:

    Not going to replace a network card's slot. And since you're starting fresh there's seemingly no reason to archive the thing.

  24. Erik F says:

    I think that practically everyone has these collections of these items. Personally, I have several serial cables (both the 9- and 25-pin kind), parallel printer cables, SCSI cables and cables whose purpose I can't identify anymore but keep "just in case"! In other news, I have many boxes of old PC Magazines and other junk. It's possibly a coincidence.

  25. ex-DonH says:

    Back in the day when Raymond was a new hire there were two related problems: office ventilation was crap and developers' offices (with multiple PCs) tended to overheat, and fire code required the doors to have self closers.  The facilities department would regularly confiscate doorstops to keep the fire department happy, so fabricating replacements out of freely available office supplies became an important skill.  Bent slot covers were popular, as were little anchors made from a binder clip and a sharpened pencil.

  26. Big Stone says:

    > He folded it back on itself with the tab on the top, like this: ᔪ

    Like what? I'm not sure what the Canadian aboriginal syllabic ᔪ ("yo") is supposed to mean here.

  27. Boris says:

    @Big Stone: the upper 90-degree angle catches the bottom edge of the door, the lower 45-or-so-degree hook digs into the carpet.

  28. You Bent It, You Bought It says:

    Thanks for the link, all mine are still in near-mint condition, now I know what they are worth.

  29. Analytics This says:

    The data miners at Amazon will notice interest in Ziotek Metal Case Pci Slot Covers 6 Pack has increased dramatically, let's see what that does to the price.

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