View Full Version : Help, please. What to do with my Dad's WIndows 95 Pentium computer unused since 1999

Paul Dickey
October 7th, 2013, 12:40 PM

I need some expert help. My father died in 1999 and my Dad's computer sat in his study unused until now my Mother has taken ill recently and she can no longer return to her home. I have tried to research what use and value someone may have for this and became quite confused. It seems like many say it as junk but will unload it from me for free, but on the other hand, I have seen what seemed like a comparable system sold on eBay recently and without monitor, mouse, etc. for over $200. Can someone help me make sense of this and give me some realistic expectation. I am not trying to "get rich" on this of, course, but but would like a fair price and I'm hoping that someone will get it who will value it.

It is a VINTAGE Windows 95 fully operational Pentium computer which boots and runs perfectly. It includes monitor, serial mouse, internal fax modem and AT-style keyboard. It even has a fully functional Epson LQ-570 dot matrix printer. It was custom built for my Dad in Omaha in the mid 90's. It has a 24x CD-ROM, 1.44 floppy drive, and a 1.5 GB hard drive, internal fax/modem, and has various Windows 95 software packages loaded, including Microsoft Office for Win95 and Norton Utilities. Also included is the DOS program Word Star 5.5. I also have several shelves of manuals and software, both commercial and libraries of "freeware" that was available in those days. This software is on 5 1/4" and 3 1/2". There are probably over 200 diskettes.

Any ideas what I should do to get this in the hands of someone who will appreciate it, give him/her a fair price, and get a fair price for myself? Or should I just list it on Craigslist for $50 or so and be done with it? Any ideas welcome. Thanks, friends. By the way, I am in Omaha, Nebraska.


October 7th, 2013, 01:09 PM
Unfortunately if it's just a clone it's probably not going to fetch much more than your $50, so craigslist may be your best bet. However if you want to get the best offer, the more pictures of it running the better and easier the sale. Also of course is how enthusiastically you pitch it ;-) It a good dos gaming system for retro gaming or a good in between system for transfering data between vintage and newer technology sine it can likely have a 5.25" drive.

The shelves of books or software may be of greater interest though if you have some pics somewhere.

October 7th, 2013, 01:10 PM
if you're looking to unload it, your top priority is to back up (in case the tax man comes calling) the data off the drives, then wipe them clean, several (dozen) times.

October 7th, 2013, 01:25 PM
If it's been unused for 14 years there's no tax man in the picture whatsoever! :-)

October 7th, 2013, 01:29 PM
well, whip them clean anyways, just in case there're SSN or bank account numbers floating around.

October 7th, 2013, 01:36 PM
True. A very nice and easy to use tool to wipe out the drive multiple times is DBAN (Darik's Boot and Nuke). (http://www.dban.org/). Then it's up the purchaser of course to install an operating system, or you can fiddle with it and reinstall something if you like playing around. Sometimes it's also a blessing to backup the drivers but if it's a home built system it may not be an issue.

October 7th, 2013, 01:44 PM
well, whip them clean anyways, just in case there're SSN or bank account numbers floating around.C'mon with the scare tactics. Nearly everybody who's croaked since 1936 is already in the SSDI along with their names and SSNs! It's public domain info. I know Halloween is coming but this is not going to fly. :-)

October 7th, 2013, 02:05 PM
I'm interested in the software. 200 diskettes could have some fun little treasures.
If you have any games in the collection, particularly games still in their boxes, those could be valuable- there are a lot of vintage gamers who haunt ebay.

Utilities are less attractive to collectors, but you may get some lucky if you post some of them on ebay.

(selfishly, I'd like to see a list of stuff before you put it on ebay!)

October 7th, 2013, 02:38 PM
If you don't manage to sell it, just take a sledgehammer to hard drive. Seriously. Old IDE drives just aren't worth much nowadays and many commercial salvagers just grind them up in what looks like a heavy-duty wood chipper.

October 7th, 2013, 02:46 PM
Unfortunately with computers like this, prices can vary wildly, and does depend on how well you "sell" it. Keep in mind that something similar that sold for a large amount may actually have had something special about it that isn't obvious.

If I were looking for a system like this, a few things I would look at, that you didn't mention, are:
If this was custom built, is this an unbranded machine?
Is the case a generic AT or ATX style case?
Exactly what brand and model of motherboard does it have?
What kind of video card does it have?
Is the case and interior in good physical condition? (no yellowing, scratches, rust, etc. Good high resolution photos are always helpful)
What size/brand/model of monitor is it? And what is its maximum resolution? (For VGA, at least 800*600 or 1024*768 at 85hz is desirable)
Does it have a sound card? Again, what brand/model? (Sound cards that are Sound Blaster compatible in DOS mode with no additional drivers are desirable. )

At a glance, that looks like a nice printer. Showing that it works, and what quality of print it has would be a plus. Keep in mind some businesses use dot-martix printers for printing mult-part forms.

Also, list ALL commercial software, even if you don't recognize the names. (Sometimes obscure programs, such as databases or programming languages, can be desirable) Try and pair any original disks with their manuals, boxes, or other accessories if possible. Big name software you might be able to sell individually. Smaller name software perhaps as a lot.

Since you are selling the entire thing with printer and monitor, shipping would cost quite a bit. Due to that, craigslist might be a better option. But obviously eBay would get a wider audience.

Definitely do double check it for personal information, but be sure you have all the needed drivers if you go the reformatting-route. Although a generic system like this might get taken apart and re-configured by the buyer anyway.

Rick Ethridge
October 7th, 2013, 04:09 PM
Prices on some AT-class motherboards have been running quite high on e-bay. I'd check the board out before I'd chuck it.

Richard Ethridge
Omaha, NE 68110

October 8th, 2013, 05:25 AM
Having watched the Omaha craigslist for a while, vintage gear doesn't come up often, and it doesn't move very fast. There just aren't that many retrogamers around here I think. There were a lot of similar machines made, and few people who still value them. Since Craigslist is free, it's worth throwing it up there but expect it to take a while to sell.

I would definitely sell the printer separately on eBay. dot matrix printers are still used in some businesses, so you can get a decent price for that thing.

Paul Dickey
October 8th, 2013, 04:29 PM
Thanks everyone. My mother died today, so please forgive me if I can't reply to all of your wonderfully helpful comments at this time. Please understand I do appreciate your suggestions. You all have been terrifically helpful. I'll try to get back to you all in a week or so, okay?

October 8th, 2013, 05:31 PM
I'm so sorry to hear that. Best wishes.

October 9th, 2013, 10:54 AM
if you're looking to unload it, your top priority is to back up (in case the tax man comes calling) the data off the drives, then wipe them clean, several (dozen) times.

There is no need whatsoever to wipe a drive more than once or twice, especially if you're using random data to overwrite it. I know that old MFM/RLL drives of low capacity (ie. 10mb) could, if overwritten only with zeros, had the possibility of reading prior contents if using lab equipment. But this is a Pentium system from the 1990s using an IDE drive and so a single wipe with random data will suffice.

Edit: So sorry to hear about your mother. Hope you're doing well.

December 14th, 2013, 08:13 PM
do you still have the computer? I'm interested in purchasing it.
please send me your email address and i'll respond.