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bluejay

Historical Value vs. Using the Computer

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Here's a question every retro enthusiast should ask themselves. And before someone asks, this is a Macintosh 128k vs SE/30 type question, not a C64 vs VICE type. So emulation doesn't count as the "actually using it" category. If it were the same price, would you rather get something of historical value yet not great to use(Original Apple II, PET, etc.) or one of less historical value but is much more convenient to actually use(//e, C64, etc.)

This is pretty tough, but I gotta go with the more convenient ones. No use when your new $1.5k PET 2001 will just sit in a display case collecting dust, IMO.

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Old electronics will die no matter if you use them or not. Perhaps the more interesting question is whether you would keep servicing old collectable computers (i.e. no longer in factory original condition) or let them detoriate under the assumption the market is more interested in untouched electronics than working electronics. I've understood that some collectors on purpose don't replace leaking caps or batteries because it would make the system no longer in original condition, and rather have the motherboards permanently destroyed.

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As someone who grew up around most of these things, I go with whatever I would have gone for at the time. In some cases that means the best and/or most convenient, in other it means the more historically relevant. I have an Apple IIGS but a breadbin C64, for example, because the former is what I wanted back then while the latter is what all my friends had. A big part of using older systems for me these days is just living out fantasies I had as a kid. I never understand people who are trying to use 1980's systems to actually do practical work in 2020. There are just better tools for doing that. This hobby has to be all (or at least mostly) about emotion.

 

That means that I don't bemoan someone who spends a lot of money on a useless computer, if that's just what makes them feel good. It's probably not what I'd usually do, but that feeling is pretty much the same reason I buy what I buy too.

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I really only want stuff I'd actually use.  Over the last 10+ years I've slowly gotten rid of large parts of my collection (computers, consoles) that I had no realistic intention of using. No regrets at all.

 

 

"Actually using" a classic computer or console for me is primarily games,  but I totally get that others have different motivations for collection, whether it's "more useful" or for historical value.

Edited by BydoEmpire
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An Apple II is more valuable than a IIe, but some software doesn't run on the II.
The Pet is cool from a collector standpoint, but the C64 has a crapload more software.
I would have to go with more usable.

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I definitely have to go with more usable & convenience. And that means EMULATORS!* I've got my //e sitting right here, imaging more disks as we speak. And I came across one that needed a little TLC. I dumped what I could, but did the patching and repairing and testing in AppleWin. It was faster all the way around. Like running at hundreds of MHz to instant swapping of disks to having multiple instances from which to pull select sectors. Not forgetting the debugger that lets us see inside the machine.

 

And I recommend that everyone go with convenience too. All the time. Every time. Anything else is just an exercise in frustration.

 

I believe the best hardware (for you) is the hardware that captures the experience you had when younger. And hardware that does it in a frustration-free manner. You shouldn't have to fight against aging parts or impossible-to-obtain accessories. And your choice should also interface with modern computers. This enhances and expands the experience beyond what was possible back in the day.

 

*I've been using AppleWin so long it feels like just another iteration of the Apple II series hardware. Superior in some ways, lacking in others. But undoubtedly highly complimentary and versatile!

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I had clipped out what I wrote about museums to keep the post from being 2x bigger.

 

But in short, museums have the time and money and resources to restore things to a high degree. That’s totally fine I’m sure.

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I'm glad other people are preserving old hardware, because I sure don't want to. I like looking at it, learning about it, and if I had unlimited space and time (and love for the old hardware) I would get into flash loaders and stuff. 
 

I'm the worst. 

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Posted (edited)

No I’m the worst. I had 2 garages and a full bedroom jam-packed with all this crap. Thankfully I’m down to a 5x10 section these days.


And crap it is. Little more than corporate outgassings from profit making. 

Edited by Keatah

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3 hours ago, Keatah said:

I had clipped out what I wrote about museums to keep the post from being 2x bigger.

 

But in short, museums have the time and money and resources to restore things to a high degree. That’s totally fine I’m sure.

They're volunteers.

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37 minutes ago, mr_me said:

They're volunteers.

..receiving grants and donations and even actual systems and materials to work with. In other words, time, money, and resources.

 

When I work on my Apple //e or 486, I gotta cover the time, the cost of materials, and conduct my own research.

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Volunteer means they're not getting paid for their time.  Some people enjoy working with the hardware as much or more than using the application software.

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The grants and donations don't have to go to the volunteers. It would go to upkeep of the museum, and supplies and parts, and tools and materials. Things the individual hobbyist isn't given.

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On 2/24/2020 at 1:47 AM, carlsson said:

I've understood that some collectors on purpose don't replace leaking caps or batteries because it would make the system no longer in original condition, and rather have the motherboards permanently destroyed.

Only dumb to the nth degree people do that.

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On 2/24/2020 at 12:47 AM, carlsson said:

 I've understood that some collectors on purpose don't replace leaking caps or batteries because it would make the system no longer in original condition, and rather have the motherboards permanently destroyed.

 

That is truly bizarre behaviour. If someone wants to keep the hardware pristine and factory-original, at least remove the battery before it does damage -- that part was intended to be replaceable, anyway.

 

Professional paper conservators routinely remove "contaminants" such as paper clips, sticky tape, and rubber bands from archival records before they do damage in long-term storage. Art conservators will reframe paintings and stabilize the underlying media. Allowing something to be destroyed or damaged beyond repair is incompatible with the goals of long-term preservation.

 

 

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Good question..

A little of both for me.

For instance, when I was looking at getting a Mac, I went thru a couple of more usable ones (IIsi, etc).  And they were fun...

But I really wanted that Compact Mac feel.  And, I decided, I wanted B/W...  And I wanted a 68k, not a 68030 or so...  That was what I remembered from when my roommate had his Fat Mac...

I thought about the original Macs, but they are a bit limiting (800k drives, etc)...

So I ended up getting what a lot of people think is one of the worst Macs ever made.  The Mac Classic.

Original in look/feel/performance, but newer (it was the last of that set 68k, etc) with a HD floppy and even OS in ROM if needed...

 

Even with the IIsi and some other Macs I still had then, I found that the one I enjoyed using when I wanted to was the Mac Classic.

In fact, I just ordered 2M more so I can take it to it's full 4M glory!

(I also ordered a CAP kit, so that project is in the plans now...)

 

I think trying to work with an original Mac 128k or 512k would have been a bit less fun for me.  And I didn't get that same feel with the nicer 68030/40 Macs.

So for me, the Classic was the one.  ;-)

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On 2/28/2020 at 12:01 PM, JamesD said:

An Apple II is more valuable than a IIe, but some software doesn't run on the II.
The Pet is cool from a collector standpoint, but the C64 has a crapload more software.
I would have to go with more usable.

Totally agree on the Apple II and //e comment.

Not on the PET tho...  Not because I'd rather have one over a 64!!

Just because I don't see those as the same line (and I realize the lineage)...

For the PET, I think the question would be, would you get a PET 2001 with 4k or so and a tape drive.  Or a PET 4032 with 40 columns and 32k RAM (possibly with more memory and a floppy drive).  Or a PET 8000 series machine with more RAM and floppy drives.  (Or that Super PET thing that I know nothing about)...

While I don't have a PET, I've thought about it, and think I would like the 4032 if I had the choice...

 

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2 hours ago, jhd said:

That is truly bizarre behaviour. If someone wants to keep the hardware pristine and factory-original, at least remove the battery before it does damage -- that part was intended to be replaceable, anyway.

Not entirely. While replaceable, it was intended for the machine to go obsolete before the battery leaked. And it's not like they were replacing them every year. It was a one-time deal, installed at the factory.

 

Today with all the hindsight and cheap tools and supplies, it's a no-brainer to replace it. Unless those "collectors" have no brains to begin with.

 

2 hours ago, jhd said:

Professional paper conservators routinely remove "contaminants" such as paper clips, sticky tape, and rubber bands from archival records before they do damage in long-term storage. Art conservators will reframe paintings and stabilize the underlying media. Allowing something to be destroyed or damaged beyond repair is incompatible with the goals of long-term preservation.

Absolutely. I suppose that's what happens to those basement apartment dwellers. Their brains rot and leak just like the batteries. Might be caused by Radon gas or their screaming parents.. AAHHHHHHhhhhhhh......!!

 

What one can do is carefully desolder the leaking battery. Drill it out and stabilize the canisters/shell so to speak. Keeping its shape and form intact. Keeping the shrink-wapped plastic label intact. Spiff it up and solder it back in, thus preserving the original look. One can use tiny hook clips to get real functionality from a fresh off-board battery if desired.

 

 

 

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On 3/6/2020 at 3:01 PM, desiv said:

Totally agree on the Apple II and //e comment.

Not on the PET tho...  Not because I'd rather have one over a 64!!

Just because I don't see those as the same line (and I realize the lineage)...

For the PET, I think the question would be, would you get a PET 2001 with 4k or so and a tape drive.  Or a PET 4032 with 40 columns and 32k RAM (possibly with more memory and a floppy drive).  Or a PET 8000 series machine with more RAM and floppy drives.  (Or that Super PET thing that I know nothing about)...

While I don't have a PET, I've thought about it, and think I would like the 4032 if I had the choice...

 

The PET with a 6809 would be interesting.  Super PET?

 

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Ironically I think the SuperPET today mostly is a collectable item. While it has a stronger CPU and more memory, I don't think it has enough software support to make it any more usable than a regular 8032 or for that matter 8296.

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3 hours ago, carlsson said:

Ironically I think the SuperPET today mostly is a collectable item. While it has a stronger CPU and more memory, I don't think it has enough software support to make it any more usable than a regular 8032 or for that matter 8296.

Didn't it also have a 6502, and could run a lot of the BASIC programs?

 

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Sure. The SuperPET 9000 is a 8032 with a separate add-on board that provides the 6809 and the 64K extra memory. There were 3rd party solutions that did the same, I sold a such board about ten years ago. It means you could pretty much build your own SuperPET minus the authentic front label.

 

But if you're going to mainly run 8032 programs, you can just as well save that extra $$$ it costs to get a collectable SuperPET.

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I'm all for using original hardware but practicality wins.

It's important to interface your old computers with modern hardware and e.g. know how to transfer files back and forth a modern PC.

 

One thing I would like to see more is old-school keyboards for USB, so we can use computers emulators / FPGAs with original keyboards.

(it's possible right now but one needs to cannibalize an old computer for it)

 

 

 

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