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tales from vintage computing land

Something I do every so often is head over to eBay, hit the "Vintage Computing" listings, then sort by highest prices to see what fetches the most cash.

I only click on the listings that have more than 2 bids on them, because more than 2 means there is actual interest in the auction.

Here's some of the more interesting listings.

Note: Since these auctions will all end eventually, I saved PDF copies of them.

MITS Altair 8800 working Computer (PDF)

I've never understood the allure of Altairs. Yes, it's a computer - but probably not as you know it. These are from the days when you built computers from kits, and I'm not talking about buying parts from NewEgg and "building" a computer that way. I'm talking about actually constructing a computer from nothing but parts. The Altair was it. People who bought them loved 'em.

As of this writing it's fetching $1,127 - and there are 9 bids on it.

Hard to believe it's 31 years old.

Atari Mega 4 STE, Emagic Logic, SoundSurfer, LOG-3 MIDI (PDF)

I can totally understand why someone would want this, because it's an awesome music making machine. Surprisingly enough, this computer will crank out some awesome jams for one who knows how to wield it correctly. And it's got notation software which is even cooler.

Currently fetching $206.50 with 6 bids.

It's kind of funny that there isn't a single new software package that can do all of what this Atari can do. Moreover, this computer is a rock-solid machine.

Very Rare TRS-80 Model III 26-1066-=48K 1980 Works (PDF)

Ah, the good ol' "Trash 80".

Normally when you see "very rare" in any eBay listing it means the exact opposite, however this one is accurate. The interesting thing is that the Model III is the least desirable out of the TRS-80 models due to the fact the III wasn't fully compatible with the model 1, and it didn't sell well to the best of my knowledge.

But anyway, the TRS-80 fans are out there, and the one thing they always need is parts. They key part of this auction is from a single word in the title: "works". If it works, it's worth something to a TRS-80 guy. It's not that TRS-80's are unreliable - it's that they simply wear out from so much use. And yes, these guys use these beast computers.

Currently fetching $162.50 with 10 bids.


This is another where I completely understand why someone would want this. While the Atari is an awesome music machine, this is an awesome video machine - albeit very old school.

Back in college (I have a degree in video/radio communications) I remember the teachers - most of who worked in the industry - raving about the Video Toaster. To them it was like a godsend.

Note on Amigas: I used Amiga 4000's in college. Those computers were close to 15 years ahead of everyone else - Apple included. What you could do with those computers concerning video was nothing short of astonishing. And let's not forget animation - I've seen LightWave in action.

Were it not for Commodore's unbelievably stupid corporate maneuvers, we'd probably still see them for sale and in use today.

Currently fetching $127.50 with 4 bids.

You will still find Amiga 4000's in some television studio editing suites even to this day - they're that good.

You'll also find that Amiga users are still out there. A lot of 'em.

Commodore 1581 Disk Drive Excellent Condition (PDF)

Speaking of Commodore, anyone who's used a Commodore 64 remembers the 1541 floppy disk drive - but not too many remember the 1581.

I used one of these once. It was much quieter and much cooler looking, that being not as "cartoony" as the 1541. Dare I say, it looked as stylish as an Apple product. The eject button was slick, too.

Currently fetching $122.50 with 9 bids.

Yeah, for real. People are willing to pay over 100 bucks for a floppy disk drive.

. . .

Some may ask if vintage PC's are worth anything. As in the 8086's, 8088's, 286/386/486/586 and so on.

Answer: Nope. They aren't worth a dime.

But some morons try to sell them off as worth something. A good example is this guy (PDF). If you don't want to click the link (and I don't blame you), what he's offering is a crappy Gateway equipped with a 33MHz 486 processor and Windows 3.1. This computer - even in mint condition - isn't worth ten bucks.

And he wants $329.99 for it - with no monitor.

You can buy a refurb'd Dell under six months old with a one year warranty for that price.

Bids? Not a one. And I hope he doesn't get any for trying to sell a doorstop for that kind of cash.

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