This just makes me really SICK

From: Tom Ponsford <>
Date: Sun Jan 18 08:40:09 2004

I agree with Teoand the others on this thread. As someone who comes from a
family that runs an antique business, mainly plate, glass, china collectibles,
it is somewhat easier to find out what an old piece of glass, china, or even
furniture is worth. Of course some people collect for sentimental reasons, and
to them the cost to purchase an item is not important to them as they are not
looking to resale soon, if ever.

I am a computer collectible-hobbyist as I have a sentimental attachment to
some computers I worked with 20-30 years ago when I was in college and later
on in various careers. To me the value of finding old hardware that I used to
actually work with outweighs the market value of these pieces. This is not to
say I won't profit from an excess piece when I do sale an item, but more
oftern than not, I would rather trade or give away than sell.

I am one of the fortunate one, as I do not have to rely on real hapenstance to
come across interesting old hardware items, either through dumpster diving,
the ebay auction or giveaways. Rather I attend a really good university
auction every two weeks where pallets of items that contain old hardware are
routinely auctioned off for about $2.00

Indeed, I sometimes pay $10-20 dollars for items or pallets of seemingly old
and useless 20 year old computer equipment, to keep it from going to the
scrapper. As most of the bidders at these auctions are bidding for the more
(in their opinion) useful PC's , they usually do not bid for the older
equipment. Instead I must bid against the scrappers and junkers. Sometimes the
pallets are indeed junk and the scrappers get their share, and sometimes it is
physically impossible for me to buy everything I see worth saving. So instead
I concentrated my salvage efforts to those areas and computer lines that I
have the most interest in. I always like to tell the story of the box of 6
almost brand new Qbus scsi controllers I picked up for $2.00, as no one at the
auction new what they were. Or the Northstar Horizon I picked up for $25. Or
sadly, the complete pdp-10 that went to the scapper because I missed the
auction that day. There are a lot of items that I know nothing about, some I
save, some I don't. If it is really useless or no one wants it for the price
of shipping I can always toss it, but a lot of stuff is stored away.

The point is that a lot old computer equipment is routinely scrapped for gold,
as the only salvage value a lot of computers had was in the gold they carried.
As the stock of old computers are depleted, their intrinsic value as a
collectible increases, at first to us the computer hobbysist, then later to
the public as maybe a collectible. There have been several attempt to
establish pricelines or priceguides for old equipment, but for one reason or
another thay never took off or reached wide acceptance. A day will come when
when collecting old computers will be an acceptable collectible item and books
and guide will be published. Unfortunatly when that day comes, the cost of
acquiring an old pdp may be 10-20x more than what we pay now.



Teo Zenios wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "vrs" <>
> To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts"
> <>
> Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2004 4:51 PM
> Subject: Re: This just makes me really SICK
>>>Not to mention the ebay id of "gold snipper"
>>>And the fine print says "pulled from a retired HP 2117F
>>>Don't these people know it's worth more together??? *sigh*
>>I was just wondering...I know it is worth more to *us* before it is taken
>>Is it also true that it is worth more everywhere before it is taken apart?
>>Or is it the case that someone will give more money to take it apart (for
>>the gold, or whatever)?
>>Does it matter if the machine is in working condition (so that a collector
>>would pay top dollar), or if it is a dusty-rusty (perhaps already with
>>pieces missing)?
>>If so, does this indicate we are too cheap to save some of these machines?
>>Bear in mind it will cost the time and effort to find a collector that is
>>interested, etc.
>> Vince
> Very few people collect vintage computer equipment, there is no priceguide,
> and there is no way to contact collectors direct even if you thought it was
> collectable in the first place. If I find some old coins, guns, baseball
> cards, stamps, Lionel trains, hummels, cars, gold, silver, records, all I
> have to do to sell them is to hit the local pawnshop, put an add in a number
> of auto traders, hit the coin/stamp/baseball shops, hummel shops, scarp
> buyer, etc. There are dozens of pricequides for these items, and all except
> cars can be easily stored in your house taking up little space.
> To a non collector an old mini or mainframe is nothing but a large piece of
> obsolete equipment only worth its scarp value (steel, aluminum,copper, and
> gold). The easiest thing to do is have it hauled away for scrap after you
> rip out any major chips that look like they might have gold in them (cpu's
> mostly). I remember maybe 10 years ago somebody who built computers and had
> a photo shop (weird combination?) purchased a minicomputer the size of a
> sideways refrigerator along with a few dozen diskless terminals that made up
> the LAN. I asked him what he was going to do with all that stuff and he said
> he would salvage the keyboards and monitors and resell those while the main
> computer would be scrapped because the multiple cpu's had allot of gold in
> them. I remember he said he got the whole lan for just a few dollars at
> auction and that few people knew that the processors inside the huge machine
> had a decent amount of gold in them. I bet quite a few people figured out
> the gold aspect especially since gold prices were high at that time (has
> gone up quite a bit last year or so also). So you had a machine nobody
> wanted (he was the only guy who put in a bid) and was only purchased because
> somebody knew about the gold value (filled the basement of his shop too).
> If you want to let people know this stuff is worth more then scrap you have
> to make and publish a price guide showing common equipment at a few times
> scrap value and machines that are rare at many multiples of their scrap
> value (pull a number out of your ass basically). You have to include some
> pictures so people know what the hell it looks like and put a few different
> prices for different "grades" of preservation (collectors love this) also
> include the little add-ons to the system and what they are worth. make sure
> you list dozens of people in this book who are experts in appraising the
> collectables (basically people here and what they collect plus their phone
> numbers or email). After you put this together you print a few 100 copies
> and send them to the local papers computer columnists and they will write an
> article about it in the paper ( I am sure they are running out of crap to
> print by now), maybe send a few copies to web magazines like Toms Hardware,
> Anandtech, etc and they will put something up also, and lastly send a few to
> the wall street journal. Once people think there is a market for this stuff
> (hell if there is a priceguide there must be a huge market of suckers who
> will buy it) they will end up digging around and finding system that they
> will then end up wanting appraised by YOU (you will end up selling a few
> catalogs in the process also). The only downside is that machines people
> would normally pay you to take them away will now have to be purchased
> (cause its worth money), that and you will find more collectors (more like
> greedy dealers) in the market.
> Before you laugh quite a few small hobbies have exploded after people pulled
> values out of nowhere and published price guides. The companies who made
> priceguides for baseball cards and then after the explosion started grading
> services probably make more cash then any dealer ever did. One guy did this
> for old metal lunchpales and started a decent following. If you looked on
> ebay lately you will notice quite a lot of mass produced 8/16 bit computers
> selling way above any scrap value because a group of people started up the
> retro computing craze. All those who get in before the boom end up making
> cash at the very least and end up making sure those old machines don't end
> up getting scrapped (same for books and software which could fill a catalog
> in itself). Besides more people that get turned on to the hobby the more
> people that can help you out with problems or pay for your knowledge.
> Just an idea...
> TZ
Received on Sun Jan 18 2004 - 08:40:09 GMT

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