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cheesypig
January 31st, 2015, 12:04 PM
Hi everyone :D

so I just want to see what you guys have to tell me.

So i want to start having a collection of Vintage Computers. So what computers do you recommend first.

Christoffer
February 10th, 2015, 11:46 PM
Well, That's a very open question :) - It really depends on what your interests are, availability, and how technical you are.
If you don't have a electronics background, I'd suggest getting something that doesn't require loads of repair or tinkering.
Depending on where you are, I'd suggest either an 8-bit micro, like the commodore 64, or a ZX spectrum.
they're easy to get running, easy to program (basic) and you can delve deeper into getting/making peripherals,
and machine code (assembly) programming can be done by hand due to the small instruction set 8-bit cpu's have.

Else, get a IBM pc or clone. they're architecturally more like a modern pc, making them easier to get around to some.

Best advice i can give, being fairly new myself: don't pay too much. Go to flea markets, garage sales, swap meets, etc. and see what you can find.
Most machines have some interesting properties, and if you do your research on it afterwards, you'll probably get hyped about whatever machine you find :)

--Christoffer

saundby
February 16th, 2015, 06:20 AM
Work with what you can get, but try to start with a system that's basically working. Put out the word that you're looking for old systems to tinker with and you'll probably find that more than one person you know has something hanging around they'd like to find a home for.

Don't use the words "collect" or "collection", as they immediately imply you're looking for monetary value, and something that they might otherwise just give to you with wishes for good luck will turn into them wanting to know what you'll pay for it, then not passing it on because they start to think that maybe they should put it on ebay for "real money". Just say that you'd like to learn more about how computers work, and you want old computers because they're simpler than modern computers and it won't be as expensive to make mistakes.

I also usually try to specify that I'm looking for non-PC computers, so that I don't end up with piles of slightly out of date PCs, though I do mention that a really old PC--I usually say "before the 386"--would be good to work with.

Old home systems are a good place to get going. C64s, Apple IIs, 8 bit Ataris, TI-99s or TRS-80s. Older all-in-ones are also a good place to begin, like the IBM PS/2 Model 25, but the hardware in the 16 bit systems (Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PCs) is harder to access than that of the early 8-bit systems, if hardware interests you at all.

If that's not an immediate interest, then working backward in technology is an approach you can take to learning more. An oldish Mac or PC running an OS like OS8 or DOS/Windows 3.1 could make a good starting point if your interests run more on the software side. You can learn them, then look to move further backward.

And then, there's always the random factor. You're just getting your feet under you with something that came first when someone shows up at your doorstep with boxes and boxes of an old computer system, diskettes, books, and peripherals and suddenly you've got something you never thought you'd get short of paying too much on eBay. ;)

After a while, you may find that a particular system draws your interest, and start working toward getting it, or getting more of it.

geoffm3
February 16th, 2015, 06:39 AM
As others have said, it depends on your interests. I would start looking at that to determine what direction you want to go. How old? (70's? 80's? 90's? Oughts?)

I wouldn't go looking to spend great sums of money on anything if you're just starting out. Not to say you can't pursue your dream machine, but you might want to narrow your focus to more popular model computers before picking up more esoteric models. You might find that you really don't care that much for it and change your mind. For example, if you are interested in early Apple Macintosh, the best options would probably be a IIci, and an SE or Plus... they are the most plentiful and most software was targeted toward those models in the mid-late 80's. For 8-bit Commodore, the obvious choice is the Commodore 64, etc. It just depends on what you like, what software you're interested in, etc.

We need more information about your interests before recommending something.

Marty
February 16th, 2015, 07:17 AM
Hi All;
geoffm3, stated ""For 8-bit Commodore, the obvious choice is the Commodore 64, etc. ""
And I would have to dis-agree with that statement, as Commodore would be my Last choice..
So, go with what interests You and Don't be swayed by other interests, but pick Your own interests..
THANK YOU Marty

smp
February 16th, 2015, 07:34 AM
FWIW, I think you folks are talking to a troll...

smp

geoffm3
February 16th, 2015, 09:38 AM
Hi All;
geoffm3, stated ""For 8-bit Commodore, the obvious choice is the Commodore 64, etc. ""
And I would have to dis-agree with that statement, as Commodore would be my Last choice..
So, go with what interests You and Don't be swayed by other interests, but pick Your own interests..
THANK YOU Marty

I wasn't advocating that he pick a Commodore 8-bitter, but if he is interested in Commodore machines, that the C-64 is the obvious option for a new collector of such.

vwestlife
February 16th, 2015, 10:02 AM
I wasn't advocating that he pick a Commodore 8-bitter, but if he is interested in Commodore machines, that the C-64 is the obvious option for a new collector of such.

But don't overlook the C128 if one happens to show up, because it is fully C64 compatible, and doesn't have nearly as much collector's interest (except for the C128D), so they tend to go for reasonable prices.

If the OP's primary interest is classic gaming, then I would recommend a system with a large library of cartridge-based games as a good starting point, such as the Commodore VIC-20, TI-99/4A, Tandy Color Computer, or the Atari 8-bit series (400, 800, XL, XE). That way you can put together a good collection of games without needing extra equipment and failure-prone media such as cassettes or floppy disks.

geoffm3
February 16th, 2015, 10:05 AM
But don't overlook the C128 if one happens to show up, because it is fully C64 compatible, and doesn't have nearly as much collector's interest (except for the C128D), so they tend to go for reasonable prices.

If the OP's primary interest is classic gaming, then I would recommend a system with a large library of cartridge-based games as a good starting point, such as the Commodore VIC-20, TI-99/4A, Tandy Color Computer, or the Atari 8-bit series (400, 800, XL, XE). That way you can put together a good collection of games without needing extra equipment and failure-prone media such as cassettes or floppy disks.

I agree with all those points. In particular the TI 99/4A has a fantastic selection of software on cartridge, and they are pretty cheap. It's also the first "real" computer I had as a kid, and learned BASIC on.

Christoffer
February 17th, 2015, 03:39 PM
I agree with all those points. In particular the TI 99/4A has a fantastic selection of software on cartridge, and they are pretty cheap. It's also the first "real" computer I had as a kid, and learned BASIC on.

Yeah, for some reason, they tend to be priced considerably lower than other systems of the era. Don't think the name ever got the same "I KNOW WHAT THAT IS!" punch as Commodore and Atari machines.
If you're from Europe, try looking for Sinclair computers, the ZX spectrum and ZX81 were massively popular there, and were spat out in such volumes that there is still plenty around.

circuit
March 22nd, 2015, 02:39 AM
If you're from Europe, try looking for Sinclair computers, the ZX spectrum and ZX81 were massively popular there, and were spat out in such volumes that there is still plenty around.

Noooo.... they're all "very very very very rare and sure to appreciate in value"

Unless eBay is lying to me ;-)

Christoffer
March 22nd, 2015, 07:04 AM
Noooo.... they're all "very very very very rare and sure to appreciate in value"

Unless eBay is lying to me ;-)

They can get pretty pricey on ebay; But since there were so many of them manufactured, chances are you'll come across a few if you hunt flea markets and car boot sales.
That's how i usually find my gear, and I've managed both a ZX spectrum+2, C64, Amiga1200, and some IBM mainframe parts; none of which I've paid more than 15-20$ for.
If you have the patience, and like the hunt, I'd be looking in places like that :)

--Christoffer

tipc
March 22nd, 2015, 03:31 PM
Ok here is official advice from a recovering vintage nut.

Do as much research as possible. This means read as many back issues of BYTE as you can (all of them are available online probably). Go through the articles, the ads (especially in the rear of the magazine). Also look at old Computer Shoppers (if you can find those). PC Magazine (obviously devoted to Intel based stuff), Radio Electronics was a fave of mine. Get a feel for the stuff/era you're interested in (you're have some sort of interest already, no???).

Now, here's the crucial step. Whatever catches your fancy *most*, whatever it may be (within reason) - concentrate on that machine. I highly advise against "starting a collection". You can (Heaven forbid) opt for that down the road. Find a machine, whatever it is, get one, and learn as much as you can about *it*. Learn it's hardware. Learn it's history, culture. Learn it's software of course, including how to create at the very least rudimentary programs on it. Turn *it* into a tool for expanding you're knowledge of that aspect of electronics/science. And be happy.

There's only so much utility that can be derived from something very outdated. Now this doesn't mean there isn't something to learn from it. But it's never going to take the place of whatever it is you're using today or will be using tomorrow for your current computing tasks. Unless of course you create something from it that has the ability to do so. That is, for instance, update an Atari ST series w/something approaching a modern processor. And still be able to run the old wares.

Do that -

cheesypig
May 14th, 2015, 08:13 PM
I have not been on here for a while. But thank you for the suggestions. I was thinking of some of the ideas some of the people had. Thanks! :)

Moondog
June 24th, 2015, 07:56 AM
I've found some old pc's by just asking the IT department or facilities/ maintenance guys to keep an eye out for legacy equipment that is no longer required. While most IT folks have a good idea what is active, there are times when something gets disconnected or stored at a remote office or warehouse, and is either assumed lost or retired. That's when it is nice to know the facilities and cleaning folk. There's lots of stuff that ends up stored in closets. Boxes full of old floppies or backup tapes (with no way to read them) are common. I found a MicroVAX and a 486dx-25 (used to talk to the VAX) that was stored in a closet for close to 12 years. It was no longer needed, however the engineers who used it wanted it around, "just in case." It was taking up space in their department, then the supervisor told them to throw it out. Instead of tossing it, they hid it in a closet.

Another reason to know maintenance guys is they know of or deal with legacy hardware running HVAC or other systems, or there's old pc's out on the plant floor acting as a controller for a larger piece of industrial equipment.

If equipment is in disrepair or too old for modern use, places that take donations will refuse to accept them. That is a good opportunity to ask about older equipment. They'd rather give it away than pay for environmental disposal.

cheesypig
August 23rd, 2015, 02:55 PM
I've found some old pc's by just asking the IT department or facilities/ maintenance guys to keep an eye out for legacy equipment that is no longer required. While most IT folks have a good idea what is active, there are times when something gets disconnected or stored at a remote office or warehouse, and is either assumed lost or retired. That's when it is nice to know the facilities and cleaning folk. There's lots of stuff that ends up stored in closets. Boxes full of old floppies or backup tapes (with no way to read them) are common. I found a MicroVAX and a 486dx-25 (used to talk to the VAX) that was stored in a closet for close to 12 years. It was no longer needed, however the engineers who used it wanted it around, "just in case." It was taking up space in their department, then the supervisor told them to throw it out. Instead of tossing it, they hid it in a closet.

Another reason to know maintenance guys is they know of or deal with legacy hardware running HVAC or other systems, or there's old pc's out on the plant floor acting as a controller for a larger piece of industrial equipment.

If equipment is in disrepair or too old for modern use, places that take donations will refuse to accept them. That is a good opportunity to ask about older equipment. They'd rather give it away than pay for environmental disposal.

Oh, cool.

Capt. 2110
August 24th, 2015, 03:39 PM
My personal opinion:
Go to an electronic parts outlet sort of store. They'll probably have tons of old computers for cheap. I've paid $1 for an old TI-Organizer, $5 for a Palm m100, and NOTHING for an old Treo 180. All working with some cleaning up. They all have cosmetic issues, but those can usually be fixed. Also, don't use eBay unless you collect Palm devices(like me). It will always be over priced. If you want the old Palms though, it's about $10-$25. Finally, if you have the room, collect anything you think is cool. Then you can see if it's worth anything(A la TI-Organizer). Keep in mind, I'm mostly giving advice for PDAs, but it will work with normal computers too.

Also, early Palm devices had 8-bit MC68K CPUs. MC68328 to be exact.