Help with pricing on vintage computers?

From: Sellam Ismail <>
Date: Mon Jan 13 09:59:01 2003

On Sat, 11 Jan 2003, Nick Miller wrote:

> Just curious. In what other marketplace can you ignore the 10 highest and
> the 10 lowest prices on an interesting vintage computer and have anything
> left to average? I would be thrilled if there were 30 Commodore 65, Atari
> 1450XLD or SOL-20 sales in a year to determine their value, but I don't
> think that's going to ever happen. If you significantly stretch out the

That is correct. And therefore, eBay will never be a useful tool for
determining average value of a specific collectible computer due to the
way the eBay auction mechanism encourages overbidding.

> time frame you are averaging over you are going to smooth over important
> events affecting the value of vintage computer equipment. As an interested

This is not guaranteed, especially with some of the outrageous prices that
have been paid for some machines there. Like, for instance, a $1000
TRS-80 Model 1.

> party I plan on buying Mike and Sellam's book but we have to realize that

It's Mike's book ;)

> eBay has an impact on the value of our collections and while like most rabid
> collectors the dollar value of my collection is not what is important to me
> it certainly will be important if I ever have to deal with my insurance
> agent.

It's fine for insurance purposes perhaps, but not for trading computers.
Look, if one wants to live in an eBay world where you buy and sell
exclusively there then one is welcome to live in that other-dimensional
economy. But in the real world, I don't want eBay prices to be affecting
the value of a computer, especially when it threatens to drive the price
up to ridiculous levels on common machines.

> As for eBay, the last time I checked the eBay dollars I was spending and
> being paid in were worth the same as the dollars my employer is paying me

On the average, you are paying a premium by way of the inflated sale price
that each auction ends at.

> every week. I would not have been able to acquire the 300+ computers I have
> if it were not for eBay. Newsgroups and mailing lists are great for sharing
> ideas, offering assistance and making contacts but they are really a pretty
> poor way to buy, sell and trade interesting vintage computers. I for one am
> damn thankful eBay is as successful as it is.

That's funny, I acquired most of the 1,700+ computers I have through
newsgroups and mailing lists, plus flea markets, thrift stores, electronic
surplus stores, etc. Probably less than 20 were acquired through eBay.

Computer collecting on eBay is like going big game trophy hunting in a
wild animal reserve. It's fun, and you bag the big ones, but you are
certainly paying for the privelege of the easy score.

I prefer to hunt out in the wild.

Sellam Ismail Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger

 * Old computing resources for business and academia at *
Received on Mon Jan 13 2003 - 09:59:01 GMT

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