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Head of Vecna
July 24th, 2006, 11:15 AM
Hey, sorry if this sounds n00bish but I am n00 to the site and vintage computing in general.

From what I've been able to gather about the interests of vintage computer enthusiasts, most of their hobby seems to revolve around collecting old machines. Just wondering...does anyone actually still use them practically? What are they good for these days?

Thanks,
Head of Vecna

dongfeng
July 24th, 2006, 11:30 AM
I do! I have about 6 machines set up at the moment, all in the loft space of my house. All working, and all useable. Collecting is fun, but I only collect something I find interesting and will use.

Old computers aren't really useful these days, but that doesn't stop them from being fun.

This evening, backed up a ton of software on my BBC-B, and put a new hard drive in my 486, which required me to reinstall DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11. Next step is to connect it to my home network, but 33MHz is painful so I might just hold out until I can pick up my DX4-100 from storage.

I also ran my newly-acquired disk cleaning kit through my 5.25" floppy drives, which seems to have revived the FH drive from my "parts" XT :D

mbbrutman
July 24th, 2006, 11:42 AM
I think that's an excellent question.

For day to day tasks like email, web surfing, etc. I do not use my old machines. However, I do program on them regularly. My project at the moment is to write and run a telnet BBS on an 8088 class machine. I also learn quite a bit by trying to squeeze the most performance that I can out of them and by extending their capabilities to do things unimagined 20 years ago.

I think there are too many collectors out there. I'd like to see more people actively using their hardware.

Jorg
July 24th, 2006, 12:26 PM
I also ran my newly-acquired disk cleaning kit through my 5.25" floppy drives, which seems to have revived the FH drive from my "parts" XT :D

Where did you get that?

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2006, 12:36 PM
For actual 'work' type stuff, no, but I do play with various items from my collection on a daily basis. Today, so far, I have played with my Epson PX-8, a '486 laptop (my DOS workhorse), a '386-powered Pen-Based PC (my 'new toy'), and a Pentium 166MHz tablet. I collect 'em mainly because I do enjoy playing with 'em.

--T

dongfeng
July 24th, 2006, 12:42 PM
Where did you get that?

eBay! :D The seller (dataserve_retro) doesn't seem to have any for sale at the moment, but you can always ask.

http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQsassZdataserve_retroQQhtZ-1

carlsson
July 24th, 2006, 12:44 PM
My biggest fear is that computer collecting at one point will become so lucrative that newly rich people will envision it as a form of investment. In particular the uncommon and already rare items that fetch good money would become even more difficult to get ahold of. Up to this point, I think most or all of the pure collectors do it because they have a genuine interest, even if they don't actively use (or know how to use) all their items. Personally, I would probably not acquire more systems than I could regularly find some use for (or could learn how to use), but who knows what would happen with a bit more money and a bit more storage space..

I also program, play old games and perhaps does a bit of music on my old computers. Many systems can be retrofitted with modern networking, but to me it is more a novelty than practically useful vs using a newer computer. Office applications such as word processing, spreadsheets and registers might be useful if you have a strong connection on the vintage side (printers, disk drives, other software that can use the files). Otherwise it tends to be more a problem if you later want to move the data files to a modern computer.

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2006, 01:38 PM
Not to drop any namez, but the guy who bought 'ComputerHell' iz a bona-fide billionaire...(just last year, he sold hiz share of the 'Blue Rhino' LP gas company for a kewl 4 mil...cash)! I can't wait to meet him F2F...

--T

carlsson
July 24th, 2006, 01:58 PM
And of that billion dollars, he spent $500 + shipping on ComputerHell? :)

compu_85
July 24th, 2006, 02:07 PM
I use my lisa quite a bit. I find it works great for homework: You don't have to fight with LisaWrite to get the formatting the way you want it, and there are no games to destract you. The spellchecker works good too!

-Jason

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2006, 03:13 PM
And of that billion dollars, he spent $500 + shipping on ComputerHell? :)

Yah, I figger it's like, pocket change to him...

--T

NathanAllan
July 24th, 2006, 04:21 PM
I haven't been using many of my machines lately, since I traded off or gave away most of it (to good homes) and acquired more things that need rapair or parts. When they work I'll use them for transferring data from unused floppy formats or whatnot, but I like to repair them, teach myself and move on. If I find anything rare I'll pick it up and see what I can do, but I'll most likely trade it off later. I've been in the process of repairing and upgrading my Atari computers and the one 486 tablet. It's been a while, life gets in the way, and lately I've been getting into atari game consoles (got a 2600 and a 7800 with power problems).

Nathan

Terry Yager
July 24th, 2006, 04:46 PM
And of that billion dollars, he spent $500 + shipping on ComputerHell? :)

Course, ya gotta figger, the '+ shipping' part iz gonna run a good 4 - 5 grand (it's a lot of stuph).

--T

carlsson
July 25th, 2006, 12:29 AM
And of course storage space. The buyer probably has a large mansion, but might not have planned for a computer graveyard, eh.. warehouse when the house was built/bought. :-)

Mad-Mike
July 25th, 2006, 04:26 AM
I got into this whole thing because I was a poor high school kid with no job, and wanted a computer. In the late 90's, not having a computer, or a car for that matter, really hindered my social life needless to say.......

So I started off with a 386 SX and a 486 DX-33 motherboard, and worked my way up from there. ALL of my computers have been legitamatley used for something, from just games (Macintosh, 286, XT), to actual internet and work (486 machines and up). What's really krazy, is I just rebuilt my 486 DX4 last night, and the thing is almost as usable as my Win2000 machine is, I even can get true-color graphics since I swapped the video card.

Basically put, if I don't have a use for it, it eventually gets dismantled or sold off, otherwise, I used the heck out of them.......

My main computer started off a full size AT 386 DX/20, over 6 years and 300-500 dollars and a heavy power-tool invovled case-mod later, I've managed to build a rather modern machine out of it. But I still have a heart for the old beasts.

TroyW
August 28th, 2006, 06:57 AM
I still use my "vintage" computer, because the software I have I prefer to what is available for my "current" computer. At the moment, I'm limited to using my vintage computer via an emulator (WinUAE, emulating a Amiga 4000/040) because my vintage computers disk drives are dead, but once I get replacements for both the hard disk and the floppy drive, I plan on networking it to the other computers and using it for graphics work.

dreddnott
August 28th, 2006, 08:09 AM
I sure do use my old computers!

Why, right now, I'm using my TRS-80 Model 4 to count out time.

http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g54/dreddnott/vintage/trs80model4-2.jpg

It's up to 558,216 right now! Make that 217...218...

chuckcmagee
August 28th, 2006, 09:02 AM
Like Mad-Mike, my "vintage" computers don't stay vintage. Take my 1991 full sized Gateway 2000 tower. First it had the 386/25 in it, then replaced MB with 486DX/50, then cpu got replaced with a Pent 90, then motherboard got replaced with a MB with intel 440 chip set and Pent III/450. That motherboard recently replaced with ASUS and Pent III/1000. Same original power supply is still humming along, fan is on the noisy side even after cleaning. Anyway, it was doing file-sharing (backup) and print server duties until very recently running XP Pro. Got replaced with a modern Dell a few weeks ago because I was getting toooo much grief about the 17" CRT I was using. I do live in a single wide mobile home and there ain't a lot of room in this place.

Unknown_K
August 28th, 2006, 10:17 AM
Yah, I figger it's like, pocket change to him...

--T

More like belly button lint.

Unknown_K
August 28th, 2006, 10:24 AM
I use most of my collection. Most of my collection (x86/Commodore/Amiga/Atari) is for retro gaming. My Macs are use for video capture, old mathematics and CAD applications to name a few. I also have a Dual Pentium Pro server that makes life easier moving the old disk images around. The 2 machines I use the least lately seem to be my Apple IIgs and my Tandy 1000HX, but things go through cycles.

With exception to my duplicates that I keep as spares and my Timex 2068 (can't find it) everything else is setup and ready to run thanks to a million surge strips, tables, and quite a few KVMs.

EvanK
August 28th, 2006, 11:56 AM
My biggest fear is that computer collecting at one point will become so lucrative that newly rich people will envision it as a form of investment. In particular the uncommon and already rare items that fetch good money would become even more difficult to get ahold of.

Not "will" but "has" become. Our hobby is very analogous to antique car collecting. Any regular guy can devote time and some money to, say, a '57 Chevy, but you need major devotion and wealth to get and restore a Duesenberg. So in our hobby, we can all have a DEC PDP-11 or an Apple II, but only the dedicated and well-to-do few can get/restore a DEC "Straight 8" or an Apple 1. Rather than fear and complain about those people, I think the best way to get such computers out of private hands and into public view is to encourage and support computer museums.

Disclaimer: my user group, MARCH, is building such a museum. :)

DoctorPepper
August 28th, 2006, 12:21 PM
I agree with mobilemaster about the different levels of collecting. My wife smiles and thinks it's cute if I get all excited about winning a TRS-80 Model 100 on eBay, but I think that smile would turn to a frown real quick if I decided to clean out the garage, then told her I was going to spend $5,000+ on a PDP-1 and put it in the garage!

For me, the hobby is mainly reclaiming the micro computers I used back when I first started in the hobby. I tried collecting some of the systems I had lusted over (a couple of Amigas an Apple //c, an Apple ][e and an early Mac), but found I never even bothered to use them, so I gave them away to a good home, where I know they will get used.

I guess I don't use them a lot, mainly because I just don't have the time to devote to them, and I'm afraid of damaging my Model IV or 4P's (I don't worry about the Model 10x/200 family, those are built like tanks!). For me, the joy is not so much in using them, but saving them from the dump. I just think about all of those early Apples, Tandy's, Atari's, Commodores, etc... that are now burried under tons of dirt and garbage. Makes me shudder!

bbcmicro
August 28th, 2006, 12:46 PM
What I collect is determined by my allowance.
It used to be governed by my mum. If I wanted to get another computer she would often say no, but now she knows I have been into it for over 2 years now and I am serious, so she doesn't mind what I get so long as it fits in my room and I keep it tidy.

rmay635703
August 29th, 2006, 01:30 PM
I still use as the mainstay of our family business a 1988 Futura 100 computer photography system (yes it was upgraded many times). It takes excellent color photos and prints them rapidly all driven by a 12.5mhz Motorolla 68010 4mb of Raster memory, 256k of rom and 1.5mb of Video. 340mb SCSI and RGB analog graphics.

Computer Collector
August 30th, 2006, 09:49 PM
note:
I have an extra drive cleaning disk available for sale, but its used.

Id like to use my vintage computers more often, and I have them all hooked up, but to be honest, I only use them on occation. I use my COCO 3 the most, because I like it for some reason, but dont know why. Perhaps its all the great educational programming books I have for it. I enjoy trying to learn basic and doing what the book says. Learing how to program is very challenging for someone like me, because Im not good at math at all. But other than that, I dont use my other computers much. The reason why is because I have a problem with all of them:

c-64 - something is wrong w/ the unit; the screen bounces up and down fast. Also, no sucess w/ tape drive.

t-/99/4a - lack of interesting sofware. Also, lack of hardware; no disk drives, no printer, no tape recorder, no nothing. The games are not interesting to me at all.

TRS-80 4 - upper drive doesnt work, so I cant format disks, and cant save programs. No success w/ tape recorder either.

Amiga 500 - lack of interseting software, no printer either

classic videogame machines - I got old and dont give a rats azz about video games anymore

chuckcmagee
August 31st, 2006, 11:35 AM
That funny about "rats azz about video games"... I, for sure, do NOT miss the "Atari wrist". Missle Command just about did my wrists in.

Computer Collector
August 31st, 2006, 09:00 PM
Oh, I forgot a couple.

I have the Tandy 1000 but I dont use it because I dont have any good software for it.

I have the Franklin Ace 500 Apple II clone, but I dont have the power supply.

As for video games, I must admit I do enjoy some videogames, for example, Mario 3 is cool, but the NES sucks so much that its not worth playing the game for a half hour, just for the machine to mal-function on me in the middle of the game the way the NES is known to do.
My Atari 2600 works 100 times better, but Im bored of the games before even putting them into the console! I used to be a huge collector of that stuff before getting into computers. So I have hundreds and hundreds of games. Im keeping them just to have them :)

Mike Chambers
September 2nd, 2006, 02:24 PM
I think that's an excellent question.

For day to day tasks like email, web surfing, etc. I do not use my old machines. However, I do program on them regularly. My project at the moment is to write and run a telnet BBS on an 8088 class machine. I also learn quite a bit by trying to squeeze the most performance that I can out of them and by extending their capabilities to do things unimagined 20 years ago.

I think there are too many collectors out there. I'd like to see more people actively using their hardware.

thats cool, hosting a BBS on an 8088. back in the day when the best chips were 486's, i had written a multi-node BBS in quickbasic that believe it or not, actually worked just about perfectly.

i ran across the floppy disk i had saved it on recently, but when i put it in a computer i found out that most of the sectors had gone bad :sad:

i even tried running some disk recovery software, and still wasn't able to get it. oh well, not like it would make much sense for me to run a dial up BBS now.

Mike Chambers
September 2nd, 2006, 02:29 PM
Hey, sorry if this sounds n00bish but I am n00 to the site and vintage computing in general.

From what I've been able to gather about the interests of vintage computer enthusiasts, most of their hobby seems to revolve around collecting old machines. Just wondering...does anyone actually still use them practically? What are they good for these days?

Thanks,
Head of Vecna

yeah, i still use my vintage hardware religiously. it's pretty fun to get old machines to do more modern tasks, like the IRC client i'm writing on my 386 right now. (speaking of which, that pc is on right now sitting next to me... currently RAR'ing a few files. i never realized how truely slow a 386 DX/40 is compared to new equipment, until i tried RAR compressing a 50 KB file on it.. it took somewhere in the area of 1 minute lol

and as soon as i am able to get an 8-bit ISA floppy controller for 1.44 MB drives, i will probably be the only person in the world using AIM and IRC on a 4.77 MHz 8088 system. :D