I hate those 'user manual' sites out there that archive old manuals, then try and charge you $10 or so to download their PDF copy. I get that we're paying for bandwidth, but seriously, this is akin to text charges when it comes to the dollars charged for kilobytes of data! I'm fairly sure these companies don't even own the copyright, and reselling these user manuals is somewhat illegal. Of course, under the guise of 'backup copies' it's a hazy legal argument...
I also hate companies that don't host all legacy products user manuals. I understand that you can't possibly support products after several years, but the least you could do it release the user manuals and tech-support manuals to the world for us hackers!
Doing My Part
In this day and age, I tend to collect PDF user manuals in a folder on my machine for easy reference. I used to keep a small bookshelf of reference books, but even these have been replaced by my digital bookshelf.
When I get a new product, I immediately seek out any user manuals I can find online, including promotional one-sheets and the like. Oftentimes, I'm in luck, and it's available from the manufacturer.
I'd recently acquired a Sony CCD TR-101 Hi8 Video Camera from 1992. I was unable to find a copy of the manual online, but happened to have a beat-up original. I figured I'd scan the manual while it was still handy. Since I did all the legwork of scanning all 64 pages, I figured I should share it with the world!
Sony CCD-TR101 User Manual [2.1mb PDF file] Click to Download
The PDF version linked above is compressed for the web, and might be a bit hard to read, as the tiny type gets a bit squashed. You can also click here to download the full-size version (which is a whopping 40mb or so!).