Price guide for vintage computers

From: Eric Chomko <>
Date: Tue Oct 30 15:53:30 2001

Iggy Drougge wrote:

> Eric Chomko skrev:
> >Iggy Drougge wrote:
> [...]

> >>
> >> Markets? No, I'm probably not fond of them, is there any reason to like
> >> them?
> >No, other that they are real, and dealing in reality is better than not
> >dealing in reality. :)
> Is that any reason to like them?

Liking or disliking reality changes little.

> >> They're ultimately driven by egoism. And I particularly don't wish my hobby
> >> to become market-oriented. I've done fine without any classic computer
> >> market so far.
> >You act like you have a choice. Sorry, yes you do. You can boycott it, but
> >not much else.
> What do you call a self-fulfilling prophecy in English?

I give up? What do you call a self-fulfilling prophecy in English?

> >> I don't really see why you should get more for your house than you paid for
> >> it when you bought it. Besides, I hope you don't collect houses for a
> >> hobby.
> >You really DON'T get the time/value of money, do you? If a bank loans someone
> >money for a period of time, why do it if not for a larger return over time?
> Well, that's the raison d'?tre of a bank. But not of computer collecting.

I agree, but why can't collecting be for both investment and fun (learning and
such)? You seem to
think I'm 'wrong' to visualize my collection in terms of an investment.

> >If you
> >think that you can get and should get an interest-free loan, then you don't
> >have any idea about basic economics. Money MUST increase over time or else no
> >one would ever invest, ever.
> Why not? Investing in a house gives you roof over the head. That's a fine
> investment IMO.

Agreed, but I like a little thing called equity as well, especially "sweat
equity." Certianly you appreciate
hard work, and believe that one deserves rewards for that hard work?

> >> >> Why would I want that? It's a collection of old computers, not an
> >> >> investment.
> >>
> >> >Why can't it be both? And what makes you think that collecting INHERENTLY
> >> >isn't an investment? I mean given the nature of collecting things and
> >> >others having the same interest, whether you like it or not, it will
> >> >BECOME a competitive market.
> >>
> >> Some of us would like our hobbies not to be driven by greed. I want to be
> >> able
> >Greed or competition?
> Hopefully neither. =)

Again, you assume that you are the only collector of classic or old computers.

> >> to play with my old Sinclair without ever thinking of how much food, rent
> >> or current computer equipment I might get if I sold it. I'd prefer if it
> >> remained neutral in its value, or valued only be me and my fellow
> >> collector.
> >Fine, then do it.
> But in a market-driven collecting craze, I might not be able to do so. At
> least not if I'm going to play with anything but the C64 or the Spectrum.

This reminds me of a story about baseball cards. Rookie cards (players' first
year) tend
to be worth more than other cards from the same player. Anyway, a guy was ticked
that his favorite player's rookie card cost so much. The card was $1200 and all
the players
other cards were just a few dollars or less. The problem was that this player
shared his
rookie card with none other than Nolan Ryan, who happens to probably be the best
pitcher of his era. The reality of the shared card made a Jerry Koosman (other
rookie card astronomical in price. Is that fair to someone wanting to collect a
Koosman rookie card? Probably not, but what can be done about it? Really?

> >> Besides, I don't like collectors or collecting markets. I think
> >> filatelists, toy collectors, comic book nerds, guitar collectors and the
> >> rest are rather sad. They collect for the sake of collecting, and there are
> >> mags and price guides and newsgroups, all relating to what is essentially
> >> old junk collected by a small community of nerds, some of which happen to
> >> have deeper pockets than others and little appreciation of the actual value
> >> of the pieces of paper or dolls which they're collecting. It's a
> >> superficial form of collecting which thankfully doesn't seem to have
> >> penetrated the classiccmp community yet.
> >But what makes you think it won't? You may not like it but really can't do
> >much, other than boycott it (or deal with it) about it.
> Your point being? Can't we discuss whether we like it or not instead of
> whether it will happen? If it is inevitable, it certainly doesn't need any
> evangelists (i e you).

Sure we can discuss whether we like it or not, but it makes about as much sense
as picking what
color pants you want to wear tommorrow.

> >> >> junk to most people, and since there is no real financial value in the
> >> >> market even now, why would anyone desire to artifically induce higher
> >> >> prices?
> >>
> >> >I am not talking about artificial prices. That's bunk. I am speaking of
> >> >real values. Check the value of the IMSAIs, Altairs and other systems of
> >> >that era on eBay over the last year. Several complete, clean and otherwise
> >> >nice systems have fetched several thousands of dollars. I'd hardly call
> >> >that a flea market.
> >>
> >> And what purpose would a price guide serve in this case?
> >It reflects actual prices paid.
> I repeat my question.

It informs people that want to know what other people paid for certain items on
average over a certain time frame.
Quite statisical and coldly logical. No hype nor any emotion from the guide in
and of itself.

> >> >> I'm not as greedy as some people. If I got my VAX cheaply, so should
> >> >> others.
> >>
> >> >I won't argue that one way or the other. I have seen Vaxes end up in the
> >> >hands of scrap dealers too. Certainly you would hope that the value of a
> >> >Vax is more than scrap if for no other reason for it NOT to end up
> >> >recycled. I sure as heck would!
> >>
> >> Guess where I got mine - the scrap yard. =)
> >Good, I'm glad it didn't get recycled.
> So am I. But no price guide in the world would change that.

How would a price guide have made it the same or changed it. Its a damn book and
of actually buying and selling. There is nothing in a price guide that makes
someone buy or sell.

I remember seeing a case where a customer in a coin shop insisted that a coin be
sold to him at the
value that was in the price guide because that is what the guide said that it was
worth. The dealer
basically told the guy to go to hell and told him what he could to do with his
guide. Eventually,
the guy was thrown out of the shop and asked not to return. I thought it was
harsh but understand
the dealer's point of view and that the guide doesn't make any sale or potential
sale a legal binding

Somehow you seem to see the price guide as some sinister work of evil.

> People (or rather companies, institutions and governing bodies) are throwing
> out machines running at several hundred MHz right now. They end up at the
> junkyard, or are bought from the scrappers by greedy dealers. They have a very
> obvious market value.

Oh, what's that obvious market value? I need one as a project for Linix, nothing
more. I have sold used systems
over the years and I can tell you with confidence that Pentium systems that are
less than 166MHz are
unsellable as are 68K-based Macs.

> So if they throw out things only a few years old, with actual aftermarket
> value, what is going to persuade them not to throw away equipment which is
> over ten years old? No price guide in the world will do that, and probably not
> information campaign either.

Actually a price guide could and most probably would prevent older systems from
ending up in the scrap
heap. Also, do you really care if half the 286 systems end up in a scrap heap or

> >> >> Since there is a computer collecting community, what is there to worry
> >> >> about?
> >>
> >> >Who is worried?
> >>
> >> You're worried about the lack of a market, I'm worried about you.
> >But there IS a market. Go to and look under 'vintage computers"
> >if you don't believe me.
> I know, I've been there, I've even shopped on eBay on occasion. And it's a
> market which seems quite healthy without any price guides.

The price guide is simply a compilation of what has sold on eBay and the like,
for how much, and
regarding what system. Is THAT so sinister?

> >> >> If you've paid a nice price, there's no reason why you shouldn't get
> >> >> your "investment" back when someone else on this list buys it off you,
> >> >> is there?
> >>
> >> >I never claimed otherwise.
> >>
> >> But I say any profit is superfluous.
> >You can say anything you want about your systems and your plans for them.
> ??
> I don't disagree that you should be able to get your "investment" back when
> you sell off your old computers, if they were bought old, and you didn't pay
> an exaggerated price, but why should you get anything above the price you
> paid? Because you're worth it?

Because that is where supply and demand meet. On the same token you may actually
get less. What
then? Tell the buyer that since you paid X for the system you expect X when you
sell? Doesn't
always work out that way.

> >> >> Price guides and market thinking will just make people greedy, thinking
> >> >> that they didn't get the best possible deal (is that so bloody
> >> >> important?) and
> >>
> >> >The true aim of a price guide is not to allow someone to dictate prices. A
> >> >price guide should literally reflect actually paid prices for items based
> >> >upon averages and some agree-upon conditional standard. Speaking of
> >> >"condition'; based upon my experience with collecting coins, sports cards
> >> >and dabbling with stamps and books,
> >> >'condition'
> >> >cannot be overemphasized.
> >>
> >> But price guides have to be updated, and then they will reflect higher
> >> prices,
> >Not necessarily. A true price guide shows dips too.
> That certainly doesn't seem like an interesting price guide. After all people,
> want to get a profit on their investments.

But the aim of the price guide is not to delude by reflecting what people want,
necessarily. The
aim of the guide should show what people have paid for items recently on average.
They should
reflect the ups with the downs, just like the stock market.

> >> giving people yet higher expectations. Price guides are a driving force in
> >> a collecting business. With price guides come dealers who will ask what's
> >> in the price guide, or more, and they will get to the nice things before we
> >> do, and we'll be at their mercy.
> >What proof of that do you have?
> Only experience.
> >> >> establish a market for dealers who will get to the surplus shops,
> >> >> fleamarkets, giveaways and junkyards before us. I have no financial
> >> >> stake in my collection, it's for fun, not investment.
> >>
> >> >Someone that inherits it one day will be very pleased that you kept it in
> >> >nice condition. There is an old saying about collectibles, "you can't take
> >> >it with you."
> >>
> >> Since I have no financial stake in my collection, I'd rather it be
> >> inherited by someone of the same spirit. They'll certainly appreciate the
> >> condition, but not because of its financial value.
> >Put it in writing when you sell or get rid of your systems.
> ??
> \

Stipulate that any benficiary of your systems are to not sell them to just
anyone, etc.

> >> >> There are a lot of options in case you're looking for investments, and
> >> >> they require neither floor space nor electricity.
> >>
> >> >But you act like you can stop it! The turnover rate of computer systems
> >> >and the number of old ones lying around coupled with demand for them, will
> >> >INHERENTLY create this market. What I am saying is, "ready or not here its
> >> >is!' Don't shoot the messenger!
> >>
> >> You're not the messenger, you're the agitator.
> >I'm telling you what I believe will happen based upon experience in dealing
> >with other collectibles markets. Whether you like it or not doesn't change my
> >prediction. I could be wrong, but I doubt if I am.
> I'm telling you it will happen, too, especially when there is a price guide.
> And I don't like it one bit. For some reason, you seem to like it. Why? Are
> you a masochist?

It is not about like or dislike per se as that really doesn't change things. But
since you have this need
to share your feelings on the matter, I'll add mine as well. In some repsects I
like a price guide and in
others I don't. Some people will feel that they the price guide is the gospel
truth others will claim
it's all bunk. But I would rather have information rather than void. If the
information is no better than
nothing, then surely a commitment to improvement and regular updates are in

In short, as much as you hate the idea, I neither like it nor hate it anywhere
near where you stand in the
dislike category.

> >> >As stated I am a collector of other things. I have a pretty nice baeball
> >> >card and football
> >> >(American) card and even basketball card collections. Been at it for
> >> >years. I do a ltlle selling on the side to assist with bigger buys. I also
> >> >have been collecting US and world coins for most of my adult life. I have
> >> >attend shows and assisted on many a bourse floors over the past 18 years.
> >>
> >> And I've been collecting toys in a previous life, and have a big collection
> >> of comics. I witnessed the commercialisation of the toy business, and I've
> >> seen comic book "collectors", the kind who keep their books in anti-acid
> >> plastic bags. Sad gits are what they are, they should read them, not lock
> >> them up in plastic.
> >Won't argue with you about collectors, but I'm sure at least one person you
> >know finds your computer collection "strange."
> So let them. Sad gits are what they are. =)
> >> It's a philosophical difference between us. I don't like the collecting
> >> business, since it gets in the way of the hobby itself.
> >Fine, I neither like it nor dislike it, I simply see it for what it is. I'll
> >meet the market where it is and for what it is. The 'reality' thing,
> >remember?
> Oh, but you seem hell-bent on meeting the market whether it exists or not, and
> you seem quite enthusiastic about it.

I am less enthusiastic about it than you are about being negaitve about it, that
is for sure. In purely
absolute emotional terms, you have be beat by far.

> >> It's a bit like the collectable card games. Suddenly, the rich kid is
> >> always the winner. Not because of craftiness at putting together a deck,
> >> but because he can go to a card shop and buy individual cards with the
> >> right characteristics.
> >But not all the time. I still happen to have quite a nice collection of
> >things that I managed t get before a rich kid got them. :)
> IOW before the collecting/investment craze.

Yes and no. Yes is obvious. But the 'no' part is that when the investors bailed,
I bought things
I wanted cheaply. When gold and silver went way up in the late 70s and early 80s
coins were
obscenely high. But after the crash in the early to mid-80s I got back in and got
quite a few good

> >The nice thing about "things" is that even if classic computers goes the way
> >of US
> >stamps and gets over commeciralized and makes us all sick, there will be
> >something
> >else.
> Now you're sounding like someone who's just lost his girlfriend.

Don't fret mate, another will come along. Didn't the Rolling Stones have a lyric
about that?

> >> >You're better off trying to get Ebay and Yahoo to remove the 'vintage' tag
> >> >on their computer hardware category as that has legitimized the market
> >> >more than anything else at this point. But good luck succeeding with that!
> >>
> >> At least that is a really "free" market. Price guides will just cement
> >> whatever is deemed as appropriate by the author.
> >Then the author should be challenged and be forced to change to reflect
> >accurate prices.
> No, he should be castrated and hung upside down outside Microsoft
> headquarters.

You don't have to look at or use the giude. It's a choice.


> --
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> among Unix-fossils.
> -- README for the HTML preprocessor "hsc"
Received on Tue Oct 30 2001 - 15:53:30 GMT

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