Alto II (was Re: PDP-8 prices

From: Eric Smith <>
Date: Wed Jan 27 14:25:08 1999

I wrote:
> People seem to be quick to complain about Al's auction, but where else do
> you see an Alto available in any condition at any price?

Tony replied:
> I am not complaining about the price (FWIW, if I had $5000 spare, I'd
> probably bid on it...) but I am a little suspicious as to the condition
> of the machine.

The condition is as-is. What part of that is suspicious? When you buy
stuff at a surplus store, how often do you get it under terms other than

The reason it is as-is is not because there is anything known to be
wrong with it, but simply because there is no easy way to tell whether
is functioning perfectly.

Al probably knows more about Altos than anyone other than the actual
Xerox engineers that developed it. He's not trying to make a killing
selling off stuff known to be broken junk, if that's what your worried

And if it weren't for Al, there wouldn't be 1/20 of as much information about
the Alto on the web.

I'll repeat what I said before, because it evidently didn't sink in:
> where else do you see an Alto available in any condition at any price?

Someone else brought up the Xerox 6085 (Daybreak). Compared to the Alto,
these are so common as to be almost ubiquitous. You can hardly walk around
without tripping over them. Alright, so I exaggerate a bit. But they
used to be in Weird Stuff all the time. Xerox sold tens of thousands of
them. How many Altos did the sell? AFAIK, rounded to the nearest unit,
exactly zero.

I'm not trying to convince people that they should buy Al's Alto. Heck, I
really want one but I don't have $5000 to spend. I just think Al's been
getting a bum rap in Classiccmp for no good reason. IMHO it is not
appropriate for people who aren't interested in buying the machine (due to
price, or as-is condition, or any other reason) to take a sour-grapes view and
try to convince everyone that there must be something wrong with it.

Thought experiment:

If you had an Alto II, and decided that you were willing to part with it,
how much money would you ask for it? Bear in mind that it was the world's
first mass-produced personal workstation, and that it was NEVER offered for
Received on Wed Jan 27 1999 - 14:25:08 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:32:08 BST