This just makes me really SICK

From: Vintage Computer Festival <>
Date: Sun Jan 18 15:38:39 2004

On Sat, 17 Jan 2004, Teo Zenios wrote:

> 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.

You forgot to add the word "relatively" to everything you said here.

> 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

That's been done, now what?

> value (pull a number out of your ass basically). You have to include some

No, you can--and I have done so many times--come up with a reasonable
value range based on numerous readily ascertained factors.

> 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

Ok, Mike Nadeau has done all this (_Collectible Microcomputers_, 2002,
ISBN: 0-7643-1600-1). There was a previous attempt in 1994 by Thomas
Haddock (_A Collector's Guide to Personal Computers and Pocket
Calculators_, ISBN: 0896890988) but his values were ridiculous in most

Now what?

> 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

That can only serve to skew the concept of values for this hobby even
more. I wouldn't want just anyone quoting eBay prices as "values". It's
better left to experts.

> 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

Ok, there've been plenty of articles in the past couple years highlighting
the collectability of old computers and attention to this hobby has
certainly been raised several notches. Now what?

> 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.

The biggest problem is unqualified people who have no business quoting
"values" creating artificially inflated expectations of sales prices,
which causes two problems: 1) the market is flooded with Commodore 64's
that people are asking $500 for and 2) once they realize that they aren't
going to sell it for that much their lofty expectations are dashed and,
disillusioned, the item goes in the trash anyway.

> 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

Yes, and that's something I really want to avoid, because look at the
state of the baseball card and comic book collecting hobbies (and their
market values).

> 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

A bit of recent history: the artificial boom in the US technology stock
market led to an artificial increase in values for old computers because a
lot of artificial tech workers with artificial money threw a lot of it at
computers that were artificially hyped up. Thus was begat the $2,500
Altair 8800. Now that the stock market has melted away and all the tech
workers have gone back home, prices have receded (though not enough in
most cases).

Those who were smart, creative, and really didn't care about the
technology itself, cashed in on the craze and made a small fortune. One
dealer I spoke with mined the ham radio newsgroups and was able to procure
more than half a dozen Altairs for very cheap (even free) and then sold
each one to the above-mentioned stock-market-intoxicated techies for
thousands of dollars each.

Those who were more interested in preserving technology for historical
posterity had to suffer the fools and wait out the frenzy until the
inevitable "pop" (it made such a lovely sound).

> 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.

Must money always be a motivating factor? If I was really doing this for
the money then I must be an idiot because I've sunk probably over $50K
into this since I started collecting.

Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      
[ Old computing resources for business || Buy/Sell/Trade Vintage Computers   ]
[ and academia at  || at  ]
Received on Sun Jan 18 2004 - 15:38:39 GMT

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