Victory! (was: seller's market)

From: Bill Yakowenko <>
Date: Sun Mar 21 19:40:37 1999

On Sat, 20 Mar 1999 Sellam Ismail <> wrote:
] On Sat, 20 Mar 1999, Mike Ford wrote:
] > >emotions and how they affect bidding in an auction. All these factors
] > >contribute to the artificial inflation of prices.
] > I disagree with your premise that the auction is artificial or unfair. What
] Ok, you disagree with my premise. Care to provide any particular points
] > I don't understand is how you plan to stuff the genie back in the bottle.
] Which is exactly why I rail against ebay so much. If there's a price

Crap. This is an easy topic to ramble on about. I just deleted a five
page reply. No point in that; truth shouldn't be so hard to express.
Now I've re-written it, and it is only 4.9 pages. :-)

E-bay is just an open market, with all the same benefits and flaws.
With Altairs and IMSAIs, we're seeing scarcity combined with ignorance.
Marketers hype it up, of course, the few available units go to the
highest bidders, of course, those bidders are not always veteran
computer geeks, of course, and they can get overexcited and pay too
much, of course. The shops that sell stuff at less-than-ebay prices
are doing so out of ignorance. If you don't believe it, point them
at e-bay, and wait.

We've enjoyed garage-sale prices for a long time, but now there is
growing public awareness of this stuff's value. (Due at least in
part to our own efforts!) You didn't expect the world to say "Gee,
this stuff is great! Lets sell it cheaper than ever!" Did you?
With public awareness has to come higher prices, as well as people
who are in it just for money, ready to exploit any weakness in any

Think of it as a partial victory. People are paying attention, and
no longer throwing away this stuff just because it is old. The next
step has to be (more) education: it is not just Altairs and IMSAIs
that are valuable. And they are not valuable just because of scarcity,
but also because they are a snapshot of history, and because they are
fun to use, play with, and experiment on.

Now how do we get the word out?... Maybe some kind of high-publicity
annual event, like an "Old Computer Faire", or "Retro Computer Bash",
or.. Hey, I've got it, "Vintage Computer Festival!" Yeah! That's the
perfect title! Part of the publicity could be to increase the public's
awareness of more than just the monetary aspect of the machines, and
make them see that Altairs and IMSAIs were just two instances in a
horde of other equally-valuable machines. Maybe highlight the coolness
of other particular classic machines, including some that are less
scarce. Overall, prices are still likely to go up, but at least the
going rate for each machine might be more in-line with its value
relative to other machines, instead of "Altair/IMSAI 1, others 0".
Finally, point out that current super-high prices are a fluke, because
while there is no flood of these machines, there is a constant dribble;
so smart buyers will wait, prices will drop, and early buyers will
be left holding the bag.

Of course, if you want prices to go back down to garage-sale levels,
then you should instead give away (not sell!) your collection, sit
quietly, and deride anyone who shows any interest in anything older
than this year's Wintel. It won't succeed all the way, of course,
but it might lower prices a little.

So, what's the vote? Do we want lower prices, or public awareness?

Received on Sun Mar 21 1999 - 19:40:37 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Oct 10 2014 - 23:32:21 BST