[rescue] Some thoughts on our hobby..

Ian King IanK at LivingComputerMuseum.org
Fri Nov 8 14:16:27 CST 2013

> -----Original Message-----
> From: rescue-bounces at sunhelp.org [mailto:rescue-bounces at sunhelp.org]
> On Behalf Of Steve Hatle
> Sent: Friday, November 08, 2013 12:03 PM
> To: The Rescue List
> Subject: Re: [rescue] Some thoughts on our hobby..
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [rescue] Some thoughts on our hobby..
> From: Christopher Purdy
> Date: Fri, November 08, 2013 12:42 pm
> To: The Rescue List <rescue at sunhelp.org>
> Have you folks been watching over the last year or two in regards to prices
> on the major sites for retro gear? I'm absoultely shocked! Things that sold
> pennies on the dollar a few years ago are multiple hundreds of dollars now.
> <snip>
> Y es - I think eBay has seismically altered the collecting hobby across the
> board, not just for retro gear.
> Good or bad, it makes it so your collectible items are available to a
> audience (instead of you hoping some guy comes to the swap meet wanting
> to buy what you are selling and vice versa) and there's almost always
> someone willing to pay more than you for a certain item. Add in
> "faddishness" such as what happened to early Apple gear after Steve Jobs
> died, and prices can get pretty out of control. As a post also said
> old gear isn't getting more plentiful, so every machine that goes to a
> makes the rest that much more scarce, and therefore pricier.
> Secondary effect is that eBay is now the unofficial price guide for
> anyone wants to sell, so price inflation there bubbles down into the
> secondary markets like Craigslist or swap meets. Ironically, though, when I
> sell at swap meets I almost always hear "I can get that cheaper on eBay" as
> the opening line in the haggling. "So go buy it there" is my usual response
> Like Mike L upthread, I now generally find my scores on Craigslist and
> through word of mouth. Also, our area has a local Freecycle list, and I
> periodically post a wanted request for old computer gear. This has turned
> some real gems for me, and the chaff I usually can get into good hands or
> bring to our local FreeGeek where it gets re-homed or recycled for a good
> cause. Being known as the "likes old computers guy" at a tech company can
> pay off as well. It starts the day off right when you walk into your office
> find a Mac Plus or an Indy on your desk with a note that says "Have fun!"
> So - we do the best we can, but I believe for our certain slice of the
> gear continuum, the golden age of collecting has passed. Now I'm just going
> to enjoy my hoard :-)
> _______________________________________________

Another way to look at this: now when someone finds an old machine in the
closet or attic, her first reaction isn't 'how am I going to get this into the
trash bin?' but 'I wonder if someone might care about this.'  That was an
observation by one of my friends who is not a collector or even a techie
person.  Yes, it does hamper the personal collector - which I am, too.  (I
have to walk a line carefully to avoid conflicts of interest between my
personal collecting and what I do on behalf of Living Computer Museum.)  But
it usually means that someone will take it home and love it, or at least
protect it from the scrappers - even if I didn't get it.  <sniff>

Also, I think it's likely that in a few years, these prices will begin to
ease.  After you pay $$$$$ for something on ePay and then it sits in your hall
closet for a decade or so, you may think, "I'd really like that space back" or
some such.  That's when reality sets in: this stuff is NOT investment
material!  The prices may go up, but will most likely go down, especially if
you've not maintained it in running condition.   I could be wrong - I don't
have the correct fuse for my crystal ball - but I suspect the craze will
subside and prices will settle down.

Yes, Craigslist is still a good resource, but it's labor intensive.  You do
find situations where people just want 'that old thing' gone from sight.  --

Resistance is not futile.  It is voltage divided by current.
Ian S. King, Sr. Vintage Systems Engineer
Living Computer Museum
A presentation of Vulcan, Inc.

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