Announcing the Vintage Computer Festival Marketplace

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Sat Apr 26 00:48:00 2003

Ok, I guess it's time to begin the launch of the Vintage Computer Festival

This has been in the works between Patrick Rigney and I for several weeks
now, and it's just about ready for prime time. However, there is still
some tweaking and debugging, and we'll want to enlist the help of 5-10
alpha/beta testers.

But first, let me explain some of the features of the VCF Marketplace
that, we believe, makes it a preferred venue to buy/sell/trade vintage

The site is based on the premise that we are all one community, and that
we generally all want to trade old computers for hobby or business
purposes. Some of us may want to make money. Others may just be
interested in trading some of their good stuff for someone else's good
stuff. Some may just want to give stuff away. Whatever the motive,
our service caters to everyone.

The basic services offered include:

- Buy (search for what you want and buy/bid)
- Sell (list your items)
- Trade (ads can be posted as "for trade" or even "for sale or trade")
- Request ("I'm looking for <?>")

We also feature:

- Discussion boards
- A more sensible feedback/rating system

We will in the future feature:

- Inventory management (keep your own personal collection inventory
  complete with descriptions, serial numbers, photos, etc., and use the
  pre-entered data to sell/trade off items as you like)
- Store fronts (use the inventory manager to input all your items for
  sale, then have people "enter" your store and shop around)

The most important feature (from a buyer perspective) is searching. Our
service has a search capability well beyond what eBay offers. I think
everyone pretty much knows that putting a search term in eBay does not
always guarantee you'll get what you want. In a lot of cases you have to
wade through dozens, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of (irrelevant)

We solve this in two ways. First, our service is targeted to the vintage
computer enthusiast, so only items that are or are related to vintage
computers will be listed. Second, we allow you to search by type, make,
model and keyword. There are other search criteria that can be added to
further refine your search (e.g. condition, keywords, etc.) The results
will always be relevant to what you are looking for. And in case you're
wondering, yes, there is a free-form entry in case the make or model is
not in our database. When anything free-form is entered, we'll research
it and add it to our permanent database.

We also offer convenient and useful features such as the ability to save a
search and e-mail notification. You can save a search and reference it
whenever you want (so you don't have to keep entering in search terms over
and over). You can also have the service notify you when something new
comes up in your search criteria. You can even be notified the instant a
new item gets listed that meets your criteria (but it costs...more on this

Our navigation system is also laid out in a format that we feel is more
organized and logical than other auction sites. The information is
presented in a much more orderly and readable fashion. You will not
experience the gawdiness of some eBay auctions. Clean, uniform listings
is what you'll get.

Listing an item is easy and more structured. If you're selling, you first
decide how you want to sell it. Is it a sale or an auction? If it's a
sale, you can put in the amount you want, or solicit a best offer by a
certain date, or you can use the Max Eskin method (1.x * cost of shipping
where x = some factor) if you're really just interested in giving it away.
You can also specify a trade value, i.e. if you're listing a Sol-20, you
can specify a dollar amount or "Trade for IMSAI 8080".

If it's an auction, you decide what type of auction. You can have the
(by now) traditional timed-auction (highest bid by a fixed time/date),
timed-auction plus automatic extensions (to thwart sniping), sealed bid
(basically the same thing as the best-offer-by-date sale), etc.

For describing the item, we have a more powerful entry form. You have
the choice of either listing an item in the traditional fashion (i.e. one
description of a complete system), or you can list each item individually
in a collective lot. So for instance, for a complete computer system,
you first start with the general lot description, then you can
individually enter the computer (you select its make and model, then
enter pertinent information such as it's physical and operating
condition) and then the display or terminal (same information) and then
perhaps a peripheral of some sort (same info), and you can attach a photo
to each.

This helps you organize your listing and makes it easier for others to
find your items. Of course, if you don't want to take the time to list
the item in that manner (it really doesn't take much more time than a
general overall description) you can, but it will be harder for people to
find your items.

Anyway, for buyers, you can browse the items that are listed in the
database for sale/auction/trade/whatever by transaction type, or item
type, or some combination thereof.

For instance, say you want to peruse all S-100 adaptor boards. You can
select "Adaptor Boards", "S-100" (or "ISA" or "PCI" or "Apple ][", etc.).
You can then further specify you want to only see boards manufactured by
"MITS", or "IMSAI", or "IMSAI" and "MITS", or any combination. Hit the
submit button and you now have exactly what you are looking for. The
listing shows all the items of the type you specified and at a glance
shows you what type of listing it is (sale, trade, auction, freebie, etc.)

Here's the best part: the site will be free to use for most people. As a
buyer/browser, you of course pay nothing (unless you want to utilize the
advance search features, discussed below). As a seller, once you
establish an account, you can list up to 5 items every month free of
charge. Once you go over the 5 item limit, you pay a flat fee of $20 for
the month to list up to 15 more items. After that, you pay a flat fee of
$50 a month to list an unlimited number of items. Also, you don't pay a
sales commission. You just pay the flat listing fee.

For buyers, you have access to all the advance search features. However,
if you want the privelege of instant notification (you want to know the
very moment someone lists an Altair for free) you'll have to pay a flat
fee per month for that (a small fee per notification; yes you'll have to
set-up an account to do this, and yes you'll have to, in effect, buy

Our service will be international in scope. We recognize the world-wide
nature of computer collecting. In a next phase, we will implement
multiple currencies and multiple languages. To start, however, everything
will be in English and the Almighty Dollar.

As mentioned, we are ready to begin some testing. We want to list the aid
of 5-10 volunteer testers. You will be rewarded with free use of the paid
features of the site for your help. If you're interested, please contact
me directly at <>.

If all goes well, we hope to open the site up in a beta mode in about 2-4
weeks. We'll then go into full live mode. We will be actively
advertising the site to raise its profile among the community and make
sure that it always has an abundance of listings so that it doesn't just
become an also-ran.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
 * Old computing resources for business and academia at *
Received on Sat Apr 26 2003 - 00:48:00 BST

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