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MattCarp
December 5th, 2009, 05:47 AM
I just searched through the first 50 hits for "most valuable" in the forums, and didn't see this topic - what do you think are the most valuable vintage computers?


The recent TI-99/8 thread inspired me - the 99/8 plus some assorted rare peripherals went for $2400.

If we stay focused on microcomputers and maybe an occasional mini here's my thoughts on the list of the ten most collectible vintage computers:

1. Apple 1 - $25-50k?
2. Altair 8800 - $2k
3. TI-99/8 - $2k
4. IMSAI 8080 - $2k
5. PDP-8 - $2k
6. Processor Tech Sol-20 - $1k
7. Apple Lisa 1 - $1k?
8. PDP-11
9. Mac 128k - $300
10. TI-99/4 - $200

Then, really good examples of a host of other machines routinely go for $150-500, like an early Apple II, an IBM PC, an early PET, TRS-80 Model 4D.

It seems that S-100, Apple, and some DECs are the most desired families?

Those are my ballparks on value, and I know that a lot depends on the condition and the specific circumstances of what some is selling and what someone is looking to buy. But considering what machines consistently rank, what do you think?

Am I too generous on the TI?

carlsson
December 5th, 2009, 06:04 AM
Don't forget special editions of otherwise common machines. Since you already brought up the Mac 128K and TI-99/4, I would add machines such as VIC-1001 (Japanese VIC-20), MAX Machine (cost-reduced game console based on the C64) and most importantly the Japanese C64. While a regular C64 perhaps is $10-$20, the Japanese version certainly is $300-$500, very rough estimate since they show up rarely. That is a production model, not a prototype.

An original ZX-80 can be $150-200 or more. An unassembled ZX-80 kit complete in original bag is well over $500, there was one sold recently on eBay UK.

Perhaps the list should be limited to production computers going for $1000 or more, since the list of computers selling between $100 and $1000 tends to get very large.

Bill_Loguidice
December 5th, 2009, 06:21 AM
Don't forget systems like:

Exidy Sorcerer - $250+
Interact - $200+
APF Imagination Machine - $400+
Ohio Scientific (any) - $300+
VideoBrain - $300+

etc.

It also varies by territory. I'm also not sure if systems like the TI-99/8 or C-65 count, because they were never released, so, being "prototypes", they naturally command a higher price.

billdeg
December 5th, 2009, 06:37 AM
I think this has been discussed in earlier threads, but you have to take cosmetic and operational condition into account, original boxes/ephemera that came with the system, software, etc when considering value.

I suggest a book - Collectible Microcomputers by Michael Nadeau. The prices are out of date because the book is 7 years old, but it will give you a good relative value between systems. You can't simply compare the price in the book with inflation however, the vector of price changes is unique to each system. For example the Altair 8800 in Michael's book states in 2002 dollars a price range of $600-$2500, yet the listing of the Altair 680 tops out at $750. The 680's have since then increased in price at a faster pace than the 8800, which has remained more constant over time.

But...if you are going to add to your short list here are 3 you're missing

1. original Lisa with Twiggy drives $10K+
2. Xerox Alto - $??
3. Kenbak

Unknown_K
December 5th, 2009, 07:03 AM
A C65 prototype is in the thousands.

Does it have to be a whole computer? I seen an upgrade CPU module for a NEXT machine hit $900+ a few years back (68040/50+ cache I think it was).

NeXT
December 5th, 2009, 07:31 AM
Yeah, Pyro boards sell for untold amounts when they appear for sale.
The rumor is that one person actually paid over two grand for his Nitro CPU upgrade.
Most times if you see a NeXT Dimension board it will easily break $600.
I have seen PDP systems sell for hundreds if not thousands.

Darshevo
December 5th, 2009, 07:47 AM
Add in unassembled Heathkit computer kits. Thats another area I've seen units sell for into the multiple thousands of dollars

-Lance

MattCarp
December 5th, 2009, 08:46 AM
Sinclair ZX80 - interesting add

Heathkits - I remember the old catalogs and the H-8 and H-11's seemed so powerful

I would think that the prototypes should be disqualified. They gotta be workable machines that were "available".

Bill, some of your suggestions are causing me top research just exactly what those machines were!

I understand the arguments for the Kenbak, but can you really do anything with that? (probably another thread)...

I like the idea of a floor of $500 or $1000, since that separates an impulsive $50-200 purchase from one where the buyer is quite serious and attributing some real value to the machine.

Bill_Loguidice
December 5th, 2009, 08:55 AM
There are lots of them, including the aforementioned Heathkit. H8's can go for $500+. It's probably tough to come up with a top 5, but certainly a top 25. Again, certain ground rules would have to be set first. The Keyboard Component for the Intellivision is another one that can be added to the list. That can go for as much as $4,000.

Dwight Elvey
December 5th, 2009, 03:42 PM
Hi
Might add the Canon Cat. They've gone for as high
as $1800 and a low as $700 in the last 2 years. One
just sold for $1100.
Dwight

NeXT
December 5th, 2009, 05:26 PM
Sinclair ZX80 - interesting add


The ZX80? Really? The last time I saw them o ebay they were going for like $25.

Ole Juul
December 5th, 2009, 06:05 PM
The word "value" is a bit loaded IMHO. :) I'm not denying the validity of ranking by price, after all that is probably how the OP meant it.

Consider, however, the concept of value as perhaps historical importance. Even clearer is the idea of value in terms of how good it makes you feel. Many people are very attached to the model of computer they first became familiar with or owned. Such ideas bring up different computers. Each category below would generate a different list.

value(1) = highest price paid
value(2) = market value
value(3) = historical interest
value(4) = historical importance
value(5) = popular nostalgia
value(6) = personal attachment

Unknown_K
December 5th, 2009, 06:11 PM
Hi
Might add the Canon Cat. They've gone for as high
as $1800 and a low as $700 in the last 2 years. One
just sold for $1100.
Dwight

How many get sold? I am sure there is a smaller market for a CAT (and how many get listed that do not sell) compared to a C65 that people fight over every time it is listed.

I think you need to weed out the rare but not greatly looked for and rarely sold machines from the will sell at stupid prices every time offered machines to determing the most valuable.

Dreamcast270mhz
December 5th, 2009, 07:52 PM
You're all forgetting the Amigas and the amstrad mega pc?

Ole Juul
December 5th, 2009, 10:13 PM
You're all forgetting the Amigas and the amstrad mega pc?
Good point, some Amstrads are much wanted. And then what about the Russian Vintage computers? How easy are they to get and what are people paying for those?

That brings up another variable in "value" - valuable where? The Brits have their favourites as, no doubt, do the Russans and us North Americans. :p What were the favourites in Japan, and what do they collect over there?

channelmaniac
December 6th, 2009, 02:30 AM
A few years ago, a good condition KIM-1 without plastics would go for $250.

MattCarp
December 6th, 2009, 04:22 AM
Yeah, the original post was about price/market value.

Certainly everyone will have attachment to specific machines.

Historical interest and importance raises a good point.

Here, the C64 may not be the highest price, but, historically, they were significant as the largest selling computer (of all time? that's still accurate?).

This serves to remind me that prices are set by the balance of supply and demand!

carlsson
December 6th, 2009, 10:36 PM
The ZX80? Really? The last time I saw them o ebay they were going for like $25.
Surely you are not mixing up the ZX-80 with the TS-1000?

minty
December 7th, 2009, 07:20 AM
I thought I'd have a quick rummage through my old watched eBay items to see if anything surprised me by being overly expensive ...

The Sharp PC-1600 gets me every time - I've got a PC-1500 and PC-1248, both bought on eBay for pennies, yet the PC-1600 always seems to go for around 175 ($300).

Some tried to sell an Pet 2001-n for 575 ($1000) which made me think about getting mine out of the loft and cleaning it up - but it didn't sell.

A mint Pet P500 sold for 434 ($715) which seemed a lot, rare as it is.

The Sharp MZ80A is getting more popular - I've missed 3 because they went for 200 ($330) and the MZ80K goes for similar cash. My Sharp collection has stalled thanks to those prices!

There was quite a bidding war for a Jupiter Ace - went up to 260 (430) and the Grundy Newbrain also seems destined to stay on my wish list, often commanding more than 150 (250).

I haven't had a 10 bargain for months now! Oh well.

(Oh, and I agree, the original ZX80 is always very popular here in the UK, where there's many Sinclair collectors, often going for quite daft amounts of money)

Erik
December 7th, 2009, 01:34 PM
But...if you are going to add to your short list here are 3 you're missing

1. original Lisa with Twiggy drives $10K+
2. Xerox Alto - $??
3. Kenbak

I'd put the Kenbak over $12K

The Mark-8 should be there or higher as well.

The Scelbi 8 is in the $10K range.

An early Micral might pull $4-5K, maybe more stateside.

I'd put the top 5 as:

Apple 1 - 25K+
Kenbak-1 - 12K+
Mark-8 - 12K+
Scelbi 810K+
Apple Lisa I (Twiggy) 8K+

docred
December 7th, 2009, 01:45 PM
That brings up another variable in "value" - valuable where? The Brits have their favourites as, no doubt, do the Russans and us North Americans. :p What were the favourites in Japan, and what do they collect over there?

Good point...your location can often have a great deal to do with how much you will pay. I'm in Western Canada, and I would probably pay significantly more for a system that might be common in the UK...even the Commodore Pets don't seem to be very common in my area (oddly enough, I don't have a single one, sigh) so I would consider them more valuable than some might. It is very rarely 'what is it worth', it is usually 'what is someone willing to pay for it?'. You just never know.

EvanK
December 7th, 2009, 03:37 PM
PDP-8 - $2k

I can't believe nobody commented on this.

By "PDP-8" (or 11) there are many different models.

Some of the more common PDP-8 systems might go for only a couple grand. Meanwhile an original Straight-8 could easily go for tens of thousands.

MattCarp
December 7th, 2009, 04:19 PM
I'd put the top 5 as:

Apple 1 - 25K+
Kenbak-1 - 12K+
Mark-8 - 12K+
Scelbi 810K+
Apple Lisa I (Twiggy) 8K+

Definitely a "who's the first PC" flavor, with the requisite Lisa I...

carlsson
December 8th, 2009, 03:24 AM
Wow, now we are talking! Those vintage computers people may pay $8000 and upwards for.

In the "cheaper" segment, I just got reminded of the Oric Telestrat. Although you can get a regular Oric 1 or even Atmos for trivial money, the Telestrat is highly sought for. This summer a boxed unit with extra Microdisc was sold on eBay for 815 Euros, which should equal about $1200 and place it in the lower end of the "need to talk to my wife before buying one" list.

Actually an AdressTel - a modified, rack mounted (!) Telestrat - just showed up on French eBay, asked starting price 1000 Euros. However the price you ask and the price you get is not always the same.

EvanK
December 8th, 2009, 09:45 AM
Definitely a "who's the first PC" flavor, with the requisite Lisa I...

Not really. Other than the Kenbak, you'd have to consider Datapoint 2200, Micral, and MCM/70, all from the 1972-1974 range .... along with the Xerox Alto and IBM 5100 .... plus various HP desktop calculators, etc. ..... your question can't be answered until you first define, "What is a PC?"

But that is a different thread. :)

Erik
December 8th, 2009, 12:36 PM
Not really. Other than the Kenbak, you'd have to consider Datapoint 2200, Micral, and MCM/70, all from the 1972-1974 range .... along with the Xerox Alto and IBM 5100 .... plus various HP desktop calculators, etc. .....

True. I forgot the MCM.

The Datapoint may or may not qualify, but I'd still love to get one since I used to earn money programming them! :D

willowmoon93
December 8th, 2009, 12:52 PM
The ZX80? Really? The last time I saw them on ebay they were going for like $25.

Maybe a ZX-81 (or Timex Sinclair 1000), but certainly not a ZX-80 -- if I could get one for $25, I'd be on it like white on rice.

It was cool to see someone mention an Exidy Sorcerer and an APF Imagination Machine -- those are on my list to eventually try to get. And a Jupiter Ace. Not holding out much hope, but you never know!

saundby
December 8th, 2009, 06:30 PM
Unassembled Netronics Elf II kits go for $3500-5000 on ebay whenever they appear.

VintageComputerman
December 9th, 2009, 06:11 PM
I can't remember where I got this list. I just happened to find it today. Maybe I found it here. So if you recognize it, the credit's yours. It's a nice long one and well researched.


Here's the first draft at a list of the Top 150 Collectible Microcomputers
(from the U.S.A.). I would have gone for Top 100 but there are just too
many great machines, and 200 is too many.

It's currently at 133 items. Some related models are combined as one, even
though they are rather different... other similar models are kept separate.
This is basically just because I personally feel they rate their own
separate listing, feel free to disagree.

Please add items! Items on the list should meet the following categories:

1) Collectible Microcomputer (yes, I know the H-11 is on here as an
"honorary" micro)
3) Sold in the USA
4) Available from a manufacturer (not just plans in a magazine)

The list:

Altos 586
Altos ACS 8000
Amstrad CPC 464
Amstrad CPC 664
Amstrad CPC 6128
Amstrad CPC 464 Plus
Amstrad CPC 6128 Plus
APF MP1000
Apple I
Apple II
Apple II+
Apple II+ Bell & Howell "Black Apple"
Apple IIc / IIc Plus
Apple IIe / IIe Platinum
Apple IIgs / IIgs Woz Limited Edition
Apple III
Apple III+
Apple Lisa / Macintosh XL
Apple Macintosh 128
Apple Macintosh 512K Through SE
Apple Macintosh Portable
AT&T Unix PC / 3B2 / 7300
Atari 400
Atari 800
Atari XL Series
Atari 520ST / 1040ST
Atari Portfolio
Byte Computers Byt-8
California Computer Systems (CCS) S-100
Coleco ADAM
Commodore/MOS Technologies KIM-1
Commodore PET 2001-8
Commodore PET 4032 / 8032
Commodore SuperPET SP9000
Commodore VIC-20
Commodore 64 / 65
Commodore 128 / 128D
Commodore C16 / Plus 4
Commodore SX64
Commodore Amiga 1000
Commodore Amiga 500
Commodore Amiga 2000
Commodore Amiga 3000
Compaq Portable PC / Plus / II / III
CompuColor II
CompuPro S-100 / 8-16
Convergent Technologies WorkSlate
Corvus Concept
Cromemco C-10
Cromemco System One
Cromemco System Three
Cromemco Z Series
Data General One
DEC Rainbow 100
Digital Group Systems
Dynalogic Hyperion
Epson HX-20
Epson HX-40/HC-40
Epson PX-8 Geneva
Epson QX-10 & QX-16
Exidy Sorcerer
Gimix
Franklin ACE 1000 / 1200
Hewlett-Packard HP85
Hewlett-Packard HP150
Heathkit H-8
Heathkit H-11
Heath-Zenith H88/H89
IBM 5100 Personal Computer
IBM 5140 PC Convertible
IBM 5150 Personal Computer
IBM 5155 Portable PC
IBM 5160 PC-XT
IBM 5170 AT
IBM PCjr
IBM PS/2 Model 80
IMSAI 8080
IMSAI PCS-80
IMSAI VDP-80
Ithaca Audio InterSystems DPS-1
Intertec SuperBrain
Jupiter Ace
Kaypro II
Kaypro 4 / 10
Kaypro 2x
Kaypro I
Kaypro Robie
Lobo PMC-80
Mattel Aquarius
Mindset PC
MITS Altair 680
MITS Altair 8800
MITS Altair 8800a
MITS Altair 8800b
MITS Altair 8800b Turnkey
Morrow Decision 1
Morrow Micro Decision
Morrow Pivot
NEC PC-6001A
NEC PC-8001A
NEC PC-8201A / PC-5000
NEC PC-8300
NEC PC-8401
North Star Advantage
North Star Horizon
Ohio Scientific Challenger C1P
Ohio Scientific Challenger C4P
Ohio Scientific Challenger C3D
Olivetti M10
Osborne 1/1a
Osborne Executive
Osborne Vixen
Otrona Attache
Polymorphic Systems POLY-88
Processor Technology SOL
Quasar/Panasonic HK2600TE Hand Held Computer
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1
Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computers 1-3
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 2
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 3/4
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4P
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 12 / 16 / 6000
Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 / 102 / 200
Radio Shack TRS-80 Micro Color Computer MC-10
Radio Shack TRS-80 Pocket Computers
Radio Shack/Tandy 600
RCA COSMAC 1802 / ELF / Super ELF
Rockwell AIM-65
Sanyo MBC-1000
Seattle Computer Products 8086
Sharp Pocket Computers PC-1500 / PC-1500A
Sharp PC-5000
Sinclair ZX80
Sinclair ZX81 / Timex-Sinclair ZX1000
Smoke Signal Broadcasting Chieftain
Spectravideo SV-318 / SV-328
Sphere
SWTPC (SouthWest Technical Products) 6800
SWTPC (SouthWest Technical Products) 6809
Synertek SYM-1
Texas Instruments TI 99/4
Texas Instruments TI 99/4A
Texas Instruments CC-40
Timex-Sinclair 1500
Timex-Sinclair 2068
Tomy Tutor
Vector Graphic Vector-1
Vector Graphic Vector-4
VideoBrain
Vtech Laser 128
Xerox 820
Zenith Z-110 / Z-120
Zenith Z-150
Zenith ZP-150
Zenith Minisport/Minisport HD

carlsson
December 9th, 2009, 10:39 PM
Yikes, that is a big list. How does it differ from the list of all micro computers ever sold in the USA, up to circa 1993? It sure is a great list if it accurately lists all micros that ever got official distribution in the States, but several of those should be in the $10-$50 range so not really interesting in this discussion.

barythrin
December 10th, 2009, 07:55 AM
Ooh.. good list. I'll update my signature. j/k That's an interesting list. I didn't read it close enough to know if they're all valuable or something other than someone's want list. Certainly can agree I'd love to have most of those ('cept the turnkey Altair which I have no interest in).

I'm curious what that list was based off of for their guesstimate on what's most popular. I recall someone also posting an ebay vintage price guide which was interesting to see the fluctuations over the year and number of posts/sales/etc. The problem was of course folks weren't sure if numbers/currency was converted or not. Still a cool effort though.

animekenji
September 23rd, 2010, 06:07 AM
I would think a Xerox Star or Alto would be on the list of valuable computers. They were the inspiration for the Mac OS after all.

Bill_Loguidice
September 23rd, 2010, 06:16 AM
I would think a Xerox Star or Altos would be on the list of valuable computers. They were the inspiration for the Mac OS after all.

http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=On_Xerox,_Apple_and_Progress.tx t

animekenji
September 23rd, 2010, 06:30 AM
http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=On_Xerox,_Apple_and_Progress.tx t

Nobody ever said it was a direct rip off. You can be inspired by something without ripping it off completely. Show me evidence that Apple was already doing work on GUI's previous to Jobs visit to PARC and the story might be more believable. The Lisa and Mac OS's were released AFTER Jobs went to PARC so regardless of what anyone says they were clearly inspired by it. Apple also gave Xerox stock in the company to see their technology. Would they give stock in the company away and come away empty handed? Jobs isn't stupid. He would have expected to get some sort of like value in exchange.

Bill_Loguidice
September 23rd, 2010, 06:35 AM
Nobody ever said it was a direct rip off. Show me evidence that Apple was already doing work on GUI's previous to Jobs visit to PARC and the story might be more believable.

I think the story speaks for itself and is believable enough. The gentleman in question is not saying the Mac stuff was developed in a vacuum, but he makes compelling arguments that the Lisa was more of a direct spin-off of the PARC stuff than the Mac was. No one will ever know for sure, but he makes a good case. Certainly the PARC stuff is pioneering and legendary at this point, but even that was preceded by Engelbart's amazing work.

billdeg
September 23rd, 2010, 07:31 AM
http://vintagecomputer.net/vcfmw-ECCC_2010/Xerox_Alto-II-XM/thm_Xerox_Alto-II_pic2.jpg
Xerox Alto-II XM from VCF MW 2010

http://vintagecomputer.net/xerox/8010/thm_xerox_star-8010_front-c.jpg
My Xerox Star (in a sorry state, before restoration)

Bill

Visionary
September 25th, 2010, 10:35 PM
The Commodore B-128 is the only one I can think of right now that I don't think was mentioned. The last one I saw on ebay went for $560 (a few months ago).
Still not sure if I want to part with one of mine or not.. especially considering I'm back to adding to my collection again.

Neon_WA
September 25th, 2010, 11:49 PM
The Datapoint may or may not qualify, but I'd still love to get one since I used to earn money programming them! :D

it may not be a 2200, but I have been offered $800 (plus the $400 for shipping) for my 5500, to give you an idea of market value

Dwight Elvey
September 26th, 2010, 05:45 AM
Hi
At least one not on the list that has been coming up in value
is the Olivetti M20. It was one of the few PC made with a
Z8000 instead of the X86 stuff. It has been a sleeper but
people are becoming aware of its uniqueness.
Dwight

Moonferret
September 26th, 2010, 06:39 AM
Well, if anybody is tempted by one of those super rare Commodore C65's......

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Commodore-65-C65-Prototype-working-extras-unique-/330477409617

Little out of my price range :(

barythrin
September 27th, 2010, 08:39 AM
I've seen a surprisingly large amount of these on ebay .. wonder how many are unique or the same non-working system getting passed around? Could just be the economy and folks who need money now vs their prior investment but I'll take a wild guess and say that auction is gonna end with 0 bids with that starting price.

Chuck(G)
September 27th, 2010, 08:45 AM
I'm confused.

Are we talking about "computers" or "micro computers"?

I suspect that an IBM 709 is pretty rare, or an RCA Spectra 70 or a Univac 1107...those don't count?

billdeg
September 27th, 2010, 09:18 AM
I think this ship has sailed off course...

In reponse to the original post in this thread, no the TI 99/4a is not rare or valuable. The values are way off, especially for the pdp 8. Note that there are many pdp8 models.

Bill

Raven
October 1st, 2010, 05:19 PM
On the original post it says $300 for a Mac 128K - definitely false. I'm sure it could go that high if you find the right bidders or buyer, but not normally.

saundby
October 1st, 2010, 08:38 PM
I'm confused.

Are we talking about "computers" or "micro computers"?

I suspect that an IBM 709 is pretty rare, or an RCA Spectra 70 or a Univac 1107...those don't count?

Value is also often affected by how easy a system is to keep. The more logistics it takes, usually the less interest there is, therefore a lower sale price (since sale price seems to be the basis of this discussion.)
So the larger systems tend have lower values, at least for general sale. Certainly there are specific systems that have a high historical value.

Personally, I wish I had room for the following non-micro systems. Perhaps my next house...
IBM 1130 or 1800
A PDP-11 or LSI-11 system
An EAI-2000, though I'd settle for a TR-10.

Unknown_K
October 1st, 2010, 09:29 PM
Larger systems also have higher scrap value.

Chuck(G)
October 1st, 2010, 09:39 PM
Value is also often affected by how easy a system is to keep. The more logistics it takes, usually the less interest there is, therefore a lower sale price (since sale price seems to be the basis of this discussion.)
So the larger systems tend have lower values, at least for general sale. Certainly there are specific systems that have a high historical value.

Personally, I wish I had room for the following non-micro systems. Perhaps my next house...
IBM 1130 or 1800
A PDP-11 or LSI-11 system
An EAI-2000, though I'd settle for a TR-10.

An LGP-30 or PB250 is smaller than a VAX 11/780, yet there are many more big VAXen out three. I'd love to have either the Packard-Bell or Royal-McBee system, myself.

MattCarp
October 30th, 2010, 05:40 PM
I think this ship has sailed off course...

In reponse to the original post in this thread, no the TI 99/4a is not rare or valuable. The values are way off, especially for the pdp 8. Note that there are many pdp8 models.

Bill

Minor note - in my original post, I referred to the /4, not 4A.


On the original post it says $300 for a Mac 128K - definitely false. I'm sure it could go that high if you find the right bidders or buyer, but not normally.

Oh, I don't know. eBay has only 3 online now - a dead machine for parts, $200, one without a keyboard, non-original logic board, and non-original mouse, sticky floppy drives for $155 and a day left on the auction, and a fully working/tested one with original parts for $1100. The market is pretty illiquid, but I'd stand by $300 as the value for fully working and complete specimen. Certainly prices will vary.

Anyway, easy guys - I was just looking to stimulate some discussion. And for that, I've succeeded. I'm amused that this thread has come back from the dead, almost a year later.

My original post was targeted at microcomputers and perhaps minicomputers that people "generally" might collect. (I did say, "if we stay focused on microcomputers and the occasional mini..." :))

While I do think that some of the machines mentioned are interesting, I don't think most of us in the retro community would attempt to collect a mainframe due to space constraints, shipping costs, power requirements. Plus, unless you have personal experience with the machine, it's really hard to find the machine and then enough documentation to actually do anything with the machine. So not the IBM 709, the RCA Spectra 70, Univac 1107, VAX 11/780, Amdahl, or anything from the seven dwarfs! Don't get me wrong, I love Paul Pierce's collection!

I once bought an early AS/400 as a nod to the System/3/32/36/38 lineage. However, I had no real AS/400 experience. While I was tickled to get it running, I quickly became bored with it. I then realized I've got a fair amount of space taken up by the machine, the terminal, and some docs, so I decided to sell it. That was a little difficult, not many people were interested in collecting an AS/400. Eventually an AS/400 programmer bought it to have a machine at home to complement the work he does during the day...

Value is also something subjective, but I would characterize value as the sellable value - the price - you could get with minimal effort, like posting on eBay.

I would also look at machines that are in good, clean fully working condition, not sealed boxes that have never been opened. In fact, I wouldn't necessarily confuse the question with original packaging, but I would look for the manuals as part of the deal.


So, I'd suggest a few arbitrary rules:

1. Values of at least $500 (unless the list is too big, then I'd reset for $1000)
2. Physical size of a VAX BA213 cabinet or smaller
3. Able to be sold within a month, at the aforementioned value
4. Condition is "good", which means clean and fully working, no broken parts
5. "Complete" which is highly variable, but what I'd look for is:
- the main parts that come with the computer purchase (I don't care about Apple stickers, or warranty cards)
- the original documentation (for mini's at least enough docs to get you started, like an OS manual or user's guide)
- a standard set of common peripherals:
--- a disk drive (e.g., the Atari 810 disk drive, or a Commodore 1541)
--- memory expansion (e.g., the TI 32K expansion)
--- no printers or 3rd party modems
6. The computer has to have been released commercially - so I wouldn't include the TI-99/8 or the C-65 prototypes

Now that I've laid out the fightin' words, I'm off to look for a Canon Cat!

Chuck(G)
October 30th, 2010, 06:23 PM
How about one of the Space Shuttle navigation computers? That would find a pretty ready market, methinks.

What you're really saying is "a computer I can play (graphical) games on", isn't it? (It's okay, but you have to be specific--there are some very rare items out there that won't play games and will be pretty "boring". Take one of the original KENBAK-1s, for example)

MattCarp
October 30th, 2010, 06:37 PM
How about one of the Space Shuttle navigation computers? That would find a pretty ready market, methinks.

Nope - not commercially released.



What you're really saying is "a computer I can play (graphical) games on", isn't it? (It's okay, but you have to be specific--there are some very rare items out there that won't play games and will be pretty "boring". Take one of the original KENBAK-1s, for example)

Nope. I think the Kenbak qualifies and should be on the list. I also listed the PDP-8 and PDP-11, where games aren't a staple.

For me and the AS/400, I was bored since I could only navigate the menu structure so far. I couldn't find a serial communications program, certainly not a TCP/IP stack, and while the compiler was there somewhere, I didn't have enough docs to find it or do anything with it.

Chuck(G)
October 30th, 2010, 08:38 PM
Scelbi 8-H would be right at the top, then.

Connection Machine CM-1 or CM-2 might be small enough. As might be the ETA-10 (or at least an ETA-10P).

billdeg
October 31st, 2010, 05:47 AM
I think it's too hard to pin down the list because the boundaries are too vague.

May I offer a suggestion, add a year range requirement. For example. The most valuable microcomputer (used for personal computing) in 1960-1969, 1971-1975, etc

bd

MattCarp
October 31st, 2010, 05:50 AM
Scelbi-8H, I'd take that.

The Connection Machines and ETA-10P are bigger than the BA213 cabinet. The BA213 is 27" H x 21" W x 17.8" D

Here's a pretty good breakdown: http://www.mcmanis.com/chuck/computers/vaxen/ba213.htm

For the suggested rules (they're arbitrary, right? :) ) , I might add one more: 7. Been commercially produced in quantities greater than 100.

I'd consider the microcomputer and time period rule, but I really like the history, significance, and architecture of some of the minicomputers.

You know, perhaps there are two lists - an unlimited category, and a "collector" category, which adopts my suggested rules and covers the machines that most of us have at least some access to buy. I think that would be a better approach.

Based on this, who can re-cap the lists?

MattCarp
October 31st, 2010, 06:20 AM
Maybe this is what I am looking for:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/136242/the_most_collectible_pcs_of_all_time.html

and one blogger's take:

http://www.collectorsquest.com/blog/2007/09/10/pc-worlds-most-collectible-pc-list

Chuck(G)
October 31st, 2010, 10:49 AM
The biggest problem is that values--and the person doing the valuation--are subjective. Many of the systems that I might be tempted to collect no longer exist in any operable form. If at all, there are usually just pieces in a museum.

Since I was around for the very start of the PC business (I began etching PCBs for my own 8008 system and built my own Altair 8800), most of these things aren't interesting to me. I've passed up a number of 5150s, C64s, etc. as just more stuff to take up space. Minicomputers aren't terribly interesting for me--I ran a VAX 11.750 for a time, but turned down the offer of a free 11/730 as more bulky stuff.

I mean, it's not as if such stuff can't be emulated with modern gear.

Alas, the really rare stuff often doesn't bring top dollar. For example, if one of the old hybrid computers turned up, I doubt that it would bring as much as a Xerox Alto or even an Apple I, even though it's probably much, much rarer.