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View Full Version : When does obsolete become collectible?



RickNel
April 2nd, 2013, 03:30 PM
In my town, our Federal government has just announced a major "refresh" cycle for hardware and software throughout all departments. About 30,000 machines will be replaced, with Windows 7 as the standard desktop.

Let's assume almost all the machines being tossed are P4s and Core2Duo. Most of them will still be working at or close to original specs, but with increasing service costs as things break down. As a matter of policy, they are declared obsolete. They are not vintage, and collectors generally will not be interested unless there are a few with unusual high specs. Is there a developing-country market for these rejects, or are they only fit for scrap?

I wondered if in ten years people will look at these cranky P4s with the sort of affection we see toward early Pentiums today. I think not, for a couple of reasons. One is that quality of build has deteriorated and is no longer at the standard of a valuable asset designed to be maintained. More recent PCs are designed to be replaced holus bolus, to keep the IT economy churning. Second reason is that the higher level of circuit integration is beyond the reach of hobbyists to maintain.

Rick

Chuck(G)
April 2nd, 2013, 03:51 PM
There are several organizations, Computer Aid International (http://www.computeraid.org) is one such. Care must be taken to avoid the scrappers who extract whatever valuable materials and send the rest of the junk to Ghana for disposal.

Unknown_K
April 2nd, 2013, 03:53 PM
Quality and repairability have little to do with collectability. People get nostalgic for whatever they used when growing up (hence people looking for specific models of Packard Bells now that sucked even new). If that trend continues I would think people will start collecting laptops more then desktops sooner or later, and those things were built like crap so demand vs supply will be high.

Pentium 1's were built and sold in the many millions yet they were probably the first generation of systems that were trashed instead of stuck in the attic. People tend to save the system they spend thousands for and toss the ones they got cheap. Good luck finding a P60/66 these days in a working system by the curb.

Most of those government auctions get sold to refurb guys not scrappers, there is a big market for cheap systems.

Compgeke
April 2nd, 2013, 04:00 PM
I honestly see many Core 2 Duos here being ewasted for the reason that "They're old". While not collectable to most, I have been trying to save as many as I can to give away as I know some people around without computers, and it seems to pass school around here you really need to type your essays and such (at least the schools I've been to). I also notice the ones that reject a Core 2 machine as "scrap" are the ones that are able to afford the highest end systems of the time, and I've even been told many times my Core 2 Quad is old and that I should just replace it already. Pentium 4s are borderline scrap as the older ones (2 GHz and below) are just too slow to deal with anything most people are going to try and make them do, such as Flash and Java

In 10 years though, I doubt anyone will care about a Pentium 4 system as they're so common, as many people bought them cheap and then never upgraded, and now that their systems are getting too old to be really useful, so they're filling up the local Craigslist fairly fast.

Chuck(G)
April 2nd, 2013, 04:35 PM
I use and still use a Socket 478 board 2.4GHz P4 board from time to time. (It's an Abit IS7-E with 2GB) and is plenty fast for much ordinary web use (browing, email, YouTube). Real floppies, serial, parallel and IDE too. On the other hand, I've tried some Core 2 Duos that absolute slugs, even when running the same OS.

I suppose it depends on the implementation, not just the CPU.

Hatta
April 2nd, 2013, 04:36 PM
P4s were particularly crappy. There's nothing they do that's particularly useful or interesting, and they suck a lot of power. I don't think they'll ever be looked back on fondly. P3s have the advantage of being the fastest machines with ISA slots. P4... I dunno.

Core 2 Duos are still quite capable machines. I use one on my primary desktop with no complaints. My GF uses a P4 with lots of complaints. I bought her a C2D laptop, faster than my PC, but she still uses the P4. Too much trouble to plug a keyboard and monitor into the laptop I guess.

SGTSQUID
April 2nd, 2013, 04:44 PM
I use and still use a Socket 478 board 2.4GHz P4 board from time to time. (It's an Abit IS7-E with 2GB) and is plenty fast for much ordinary web use (browing, email, YouTube). Real floppies, serial, parallel and IDE too. On the other hand, I've tried some Core 2 Duos that absolute slugs, even when running the same OS.

I suppose it depends on the implementation, not just the CPU.

My main machine had that same board with a 3.4 Ghz until last month. I used it for Autocad and Revit along with everything else I needed under Windows 7. I thought it was fine as a work machine until the second replacement board fell victim to the Great Capacitor Plague. I just got a Pentium D with mostly the same specs (same OS and software) and I don't see any difference.

gerrydoire
April 2nd, 2013, 05:03 PM
I recently had someone give me their Compaq from 2001 to fix, the cpu was a P4 1.5ghz, pathetic by todays stadards, lucky for them, I had a 2.8 Ghz P4 which went in nicely, still sh*t by todays
standards, but certainly better than 1.5ghz. Would I consider this computer collectable, not really, it has nothing that fits in what collecting IMO is about, uniqueness, it is what it is, a mass produced
unimaginative commodity, perhaps Dell's first out the door mass produced PC might fit the calling of collectible cause it was first, but beyond that, meh!

SpidersWeb
April 2nd, 2013, 05:19 PM
I use one as a media server, and another as a Win2K server for holding vintage software (its usually turned off though).
I have a few P3's laying around too - just waiting for them to get interesting - one laptop and 3 towers.

One machine I regret selling was my E8500 Core 2 Duo - ran that thing at ~4.3Ghz (bus speed at 533Mhz - think the rated FSB was 333??, I have a pic) for over a year - if I kept a Core 2, it'd definitely be an overclocked-gamer box because for me that's what made them special. An old Celeron 300A running at 450 wouldn't be bad for that either.

ClassicHasClass
April 2nd, 2013, 06:22 PM
People get nostalgic for whatever they used when growing up (hence people looking for specific models of Packard Bells now that sucked even new).

QFT. If that ratty old Packard Bell 386SX (that my mother kept calling a "Hewlett-Packard" much to my chagrin) of my high school years surfaced again cheap, I might be tempted to buy it for the memories. It gave up the magic smoke when Dad tried to get a 486 upgrade into it, or I'd probably still have it today. Strictly speaking, it was a heap of junk, but it was our heap of junk, dammit.

The questionable part might be the beige box generic BTO PCs. I have a 486DX4/133 here that I keep around for DOS games, but there's nothing special about it other than the fact it's an ISA motherboard with VLB and I did a lot of work on it personally. Otherwise it's in a Fry's special case and it looks like a POS.

SomeGuy
April 2nd, 2013, 06:32 PM
From another perspective, computers can become collectible when they have some feature that newer computer lack.

It is interesting that up until about 2000 or so, any generic PC motherboard had almost 100% backwards compatibility with the origional IBM PC (most of what didn't work was poorly coded timing sensitive stuff).

But ISA ports disappeared, serial COM ports disappeared, floppy disk controllers have disappeared. There is a good chance soon BIOS compatiblity may disappear (already very buggy in newer MBs), and at the rate things are going in perhaps 5 or 10 years "PCs" won't be able to run any software that isn't blessed and signed by Microsoft.

If you happen to need or want one of these abilities, you are left looking for some old machine or some very expensive specialized hardware. So in my opinion, yes, in 10 or 20 years people will be looking for P4 machines.

Then there is also the factor that some OSes only worked with certain components, such as video cards. There are a lot of circa Pentium 200 machines showing up on eBay as DOS or Win9x gaming machines. Similar will happen for programs that only run under XP.

And don't worry about power consumption differences unless you are going use a machine as a server of some kind. You have to look carefully at power usage for servers even for brand new hardware!

ClassicHasClass
April 2nd, 2013, 06:34 PM
Good observation. I keep that 486 around *because* it has an ISA motherboard; some games just don't like PCI, particularly games based on id's old Commander Keen engine (BioMenace, etc.).

njroadfan
April 2nd, 2013, 07:59 PM
Good observation. I keep that 486 around *because* it has an ISA motherboard; some games just don't like PCI, particularly games based on id's old Commander Keen engine (BioMenace, etc.).

486s apparently were "more compatible" because some code doesn't get along with the architecture changes made in Pentiums. I don't recall what that was specifically, but it was enough to keep the CPU and boards in production for many years after it became "obsolete". 486 machines have another rarely advertised feature, broad compatibility with operating systems new and old. Here are a few:

-All versions of MS-DOS/PC-DOS
-Windows 1.x to 3.x
-Windows 9x/ME
-Windows NT 3.1 to 5.0/2000 (XP requires a Pentium and will boot on a POD equipped machine)
-OS/2 1.3 to 4.51
-Linux 1.x to whatever is out now (later versions may need a kernel compile as distros often target Pentiums)
-Old versions of QNX, including the famous demo floppy disk.

486 class machines also were among the last to widely support superseded hardware architectures like VLBus, EISA (yes some Pentium boards exist but PCI made it redundant), Microchannel, and those non-standard CD-ROM interfaces.

Unknown_K
April 2nd, 2013, 08:22 PM
I have a bunch of AMD Socket 754's just to run the last of the AGP gamer cards (some are PCIE). Some people collect specific machines just to run specific hardware more then caring about the machine itself. Have a Socket 939 board coming in just to have one, will probably replace this 3200+ 754 board in my main machine (hey is works fine for browsing, email, etc and I have an AM2 for later games). Sometimes I think I have more fun collecting older gaming PCs then I do playing games anymore.

krebizfan
April 2nd, 2013, 08:55 PM
The difference with older computers today versus 1990 is how Intel moves new instructions to almost all newly manufactured chips. In 1990, budget systems were still being built to an XT-clone standard which means a five year old XT would still be useful for lower requirement roles. Today, even the cheapest Celeron has functionality that did not exist with the Pentium 4 so the Pentium 4 becomes a poor choice to run current software even if the fastest Pentium 4 and slowest modern Celeron have about the same performance in many benchmarks. I doubt Pentium 4s will have uses that permit them to survive long enough to gain the cachet of classics.

Caluser2000
April 2nd, 2013, 10:46 PM
As long as its free I'll have it. The freer(sp) the better ;) Just been playing Commander Keen, Skyroads, Rockford, Rescue Rover and a few other classics on a slot one Celery 400 with my 5yo grandson without any issues. Gotta luv im.

SGTSQUID
April 2nd, 2013, 10:58 PM
486s apparently were "more compatible" because some code doesn't get along with the architecture changes made in Pentiums. I don't recall what that was specifically, but it was enough to keep the CPU and boards in production for many years after it became "obsolete". 486 machines have another rarely advertised feature, broad compatibility with operating systems new and old. Here are a few:

-All versions of MS-DOS/PC-DOS
-Windows 1.x to 3.x
-Windows 9x/ME
-Windows NT 3.1 to 5.0/2000 (XP requires a Pentium and will boot on a POD equipped machine)
-OS/2 1.3 to 4.51
-Linux 1.x to whatever is out now (later versions may need a kernel compile as distros often target Pentiums)
-Old versions of QNX, including the famous demo floppy disk.

486 class machines also were among the last to widely support superseded hardware architectures like VLBus, EISA (yes some Pentium boards exist but PCI made it redundant), Microchannel, and those non-standard CD-ROM interfaces.

You can add CP/M-86 to that list. I have it installed on my DECpc. I tried putting OS/2 1.0 on there but it didn't like it.Apparently the processor choked on it trying to boot.

Caluser2000
April 2nd, 2013, 11:20 PM
Good observation. I keep that 486 around *because* it has an ISA motherboard; some games just don't like PCI, particularly games based on id's old Commander Keen engine (BioMenace, etc.).I must be imagining things on my slot one 400 Celeron then. It may well just that just certain combinations that don't gel well.

RickNel
April 3rd, 2013, 02:33 PM
It may well just that just certain combinations that don't gel well.

IIRC some of the earlier PCI machines were not very good at handling resource conflicts - especially if you were combining with older ISA cards designed for IRQ/DMA/MemAddress configured manually by jumpers and/or .INI files.

Rick