Classic Computer Auctions List

From: Alex Knight <>
Date: Tue Jan 26 14:23:00 1999

At 06:14 AM 1/26/99 -0500, Doug wrote:

>On a related note, I want to make it clear that I do find the price trend
>disturbing. Call me Chicken Little, but I fear The End is Near! It
>appears to be increasingly difficult to find "interesting" vintage
>machines from the usual inexpensive sources. I only saw a few S100
>machines at ham fests last year, and I suspect that number will decrease
>by half this year.
>Would there be any interest in an anonymous database that tracks prices
>collectors paid over time, and the sources where they found the machines?
>If so, I can setup a website in about a day.

I can only relate what I've seen in the world o' calculators over
the last year & a half, but I believe that such a database would
accelerate the price escalation. Unfortunately much damage has
already been done in the calculator world, it would be a shame
to see the same thing happen to classic computers.

Why do I say this? A couple of reasons. First, a well-known
calculator web site has a list of values observed for "internet
sales" of various calculator models. Many of the numbers are
from eBay sales. Over the past year, I've seen a _lot_ of
these calculators for sale, and invariably there are eBay
listings that point to the web site and says "the museum of XYZ
calculators says this machine is worth $100". So it gets
bid up to $110, and the next time a model comes up somebody
else says "well it was worth $110 so I'll bid $120" and so
on and so on. So it appears to me that having the data available
in such a public forum causes inflation.

Secondly, since the site is easy to find with simple Web searches,
non-collectors who have stuff they are going to throw out
can do a simple search and come across this "price guide".
Then they want $1000 for the HP9100 that they pulled out of
a scrap heap, because the museum says it's worth that much
(and the only reason the museum says that is because somebody
with deep pockets wanted one real bad at one time).
Call me a cheapskate (because I am) but I think it's a different
matter spending big $$$ to pull a machine you want out of
somebody else's collection, vs. spending that for a machine
that was headed to the junkheap anyway. I would like to
think that someday I'll find somebody here in central NC
who's throwing out their Altair and I can get it for $100.
Won't happen if the eBay price history is easily obtained on
the Web.

When I started my calculator web site I thought about posting
prices for non-HP machines (as I have kept a pretty complete
history of eBay selling prices over the last year), but after
going through the thought process decided against it. For me
the key aspect of "collecting" is saving as many old machines
as I can from the scrapyard, not worrying about how much
any particular thing is worth.



Calculator History & Technology Archive Web Page
Received on Tue Jan 26 1999 - 14:23:00 GMT

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