Classic Computer Auctions List

From: Sam Ismail <>
Date: Tue Jan 26 15:30:18 1999

On Tue, 26 Jan 1999, Alex Knight wrote:

> 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.

Sorry to break this to you but the computer collecting world has degraded
quite nicely despite the lack of a pricing guide.

> 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.

And undue inflation at that! Those prices are just based on what some
clown was willing to pay on that day. They have no basis in relevant
facts such as scarcity, and condition rarely (if ever) seems to come into
play (evidenced by the recent sale of an IMSAI 8080 with a terse
description and no photo).

> 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.

I've had at least a couple opportunties to get a reasonably priced Altair
dashed by this very cause. And despite what people want to believe, ebay
is not a "fair market", nor is any auction for that matter, virtual or
physical! The prices on ebay are just not based on any reasonable
valuation, only speculation and emotion.

> 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.

In all the times I've been interviewed for stories I always downplay the
"value" aspect of collecting (and in fact try to avoid it altogether if
possible) and am quick to put the emphasis on the historical significance
and historical value of the machines, because that's all that really

Sellam Alternate e-mail:
Always being hassled by the man.

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Received on Tue Jan 26 1999 - 15:30:18 GMT

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