Help with pricing on vintage computers?

From: Sellam Ismail <>
Date: Tue Jan 14 02:30:00 2003

On Mon, 13 Jan 2003, Jay West wrote:

> I REALLY don't want to start a long thread on ebay pros & cons, but the post
> lawrence made got me thinking. I'll try to keep it lucid instead of trolling
> ;)

Me either, since we've already been there, done that, got the t-shirt,
then turned around and sold it on eBay.

> The ebay seller on the other hand, doesn't have this luxury. No inventory.
> Chances are he only has one item. Period. Forever. So it is clearly in his
> best interest to get the highest possible price. And I can't blame them one
> bit. The simple fact is... when a particular item on ebay goes for 100 times
> the value WE think it should have, to the person who bought it... well, it
> *IS* worth that much. And that's pretty much the definition of market
> value - what someone is willing to pay. And the ebay seller's costs... they

Define "market". If it sells for 100 times the average value that others
would pay, is this "the" market? Or "a" market (a market of one)?

> DO fluctuate wildly. One guy may have bought the system for $500 before
> taking it to ebay, the other guy may have picked the same exact model system
> out of a dumpster behind his apartment for zero cost. Another guy may have
> emotional attachment which raises the price he would want. Others just have
> an unrealistic idea of what a system is "worth", probably cause of ebay

There are, and have been, for decades, valid mathematical and actuarial
methods for determining the value of a given object based on several
criteria, including of course supply and demand. Why should ending prices
of eBay auctions all of a sudden supercede that science?

> As a matter of fact, I would bet the fact that you can get well over $1K
> for an Imsai 8080 on ebay, is DIRECTLY responsible for a LOT of Imsai
> 8080's NOT going into the dumpster.

And I would guess that a probably equal number of IMSAI's did not go to
the trash because the owner just couldn't get him/herself to simply throw
it out. I've heard this story a lot. Heck, I have IMSAIs because of this

> Is that such a bad thing? And when you have everything needed
> to make a system run except ONE single missing card... is it bad that
> you find that holy grail card on ebay? I don't think so. Not if it gets
> another vintage machine up and running.

Yes, eBay is good for finding something that you really, really need and
don't want to spend weeks or months searching for, and in that regard you
are paying a premium for that luxury.

Outside of eBay, that luxury is not afforded, and so therefore the price
one must pay for the item outside of eBay should not follow eBay

> So I guess I have to say I both love, and hate, ebay at the same time. It is
> not a good indicator of the "collectible value".

Or even of true market value based on statistical means and averages.

> But it is a very good indicator ... and 2-What was it worth on that
> particular date and time.

Which is not at all useful for long-term market valuation.

Sellam Ismail Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger

 * Old computing resources for business and academia at *
Received on Tue Jan 14 2003 - 02:30:00 GMT

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