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Which classic computer was/is most fun to collect for?

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Very simple question. Which classic computer was/is most fun to collect for? And how has your collecting habits & goals changed over the years? Which CC gave you the most satisfaction in acquiring software/accessories/peripherals? Classic computer. Not cartridge-based game console.

 

Despite the high prices of Apple II material ($200 for a set of game paddles) I still find it the most satisfying to have collected for. Tons of generic hardware and over 18,000 software titles have been made. Next to impossible to get it all. So that means each personal collection has it's own shape and flavor.

 

Currently, today, I remain firmly focused on manuals and documentation for the II series. I had to stop with the hardware - it was getting way out of control.

 

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The one that immediately jumps to my mind is the VIC-20. Even just sticking to cartridges, there are so many great games. They're great from a physical/aesthetic standpoint, too. There was a lot of great stuff on tape, too, but collecting VIC-20 tapes is tougher. Fortunately making them isn't too big a deal.

 

The TRS-80 Color is another one. A bit of an oddball system in a lot of ways (and I'm nothing if not a sucker for underdogs!) but quickly became one of my favorite systems, and I've enjoyed collecting cartridges (and a few cassettes) for it. Came to find most of the best stuff came out on tape/disk, so my "laptop server" has been an invaluable peripheral. 😄 

 

TRS-80 Model I is a big one for me. It's the oldest system I have (apart from maybe my PET), and honestly, even just getting stuff to run on it is kind of a gas. I've built up a small library of Radio Shack game tapes, including the Games Packs, Frogger, and Zaxxon. As with the TRS-80 Color, .wav files from my soundcard are my best friends here. Almost as fun as the computer itself are all the related books I have for it.

 

Weirdly, I actually really like collecting Timex/Sinclair 1000 stuff (and ZX81). In addition to TS1000, ZX81, ZX80 (PAL and with 8K ROM), I've got most of the Timex cassettes that were released, a handful or two of third-party TS1000/ZX81 tapes, and several books.

 

Apple II is a fun and fascinating platform to use and interact with, but it's dogshit for collecting. 😜 Prices are absolutely delirious. I was fortunate to get a CFFA3000, so I can just make floppies (which people obviously did BITD anyway, so they're really no less authentic, in my view). I want to get another Apple II+ (really just a motherboard and keyboard, but those things separately typically cost more than whole II+) and throw the board in a wooden case with a Brainboard to make a simulated Apple-1, but that dream is slipping further away every week, it seems!

 

Atari's another one like that. I've got a few of the different systems and some stuff for them, and it's a great system to tool around on, but man, is it a spendy platform to support if you're into original hardware and physical media. Not nearly as bad as Apple though.

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Thanks for the insight on the various systems of interest. I had a TRS-80 COCO 1 48K. I never got into the platform as I acquired it late in the game and didn't have time to learn all the commands nor the money to get a disk drive and stuff. But I did have a selection of cartridges. The same situation applied to the TI-99/4A.

 

In the early-mid 80's I was deep into Apple II and didn't want to start at the top again. I bet that was a common issue for those of us fortunate enough to have multiple systems. We'd pick one favorite and all resources went there.

 

Trading games and disk copying was a huge HUGE part of the Apple scene bitd. It was jokingly said that every game was really two games. The game you payed for, and the game of figuring out how to copy it. Never mind that there were cracked copies of everything. The question was could (you) do it?

 

For a while I was interested in the TRS-80 Model I. I loved flipping through the catalog and imagining what the software would be like. Imagining what it would be like building up a system with all those peripherals! The speech synthesizer and recognition box were quite the fantasy trip. Imagine talking to your computer and having it carry out commands! And it was RadioShack. And RS was everywhere!

 

My grandparents had discouraged me from going that path simply because of the monochrome graphics. They said I'd get bored. They didn't open up any funds till I took interest in the II series. And even then I had to work my ass off with summer chores.

 

I don't necessarily consider my Apple II stuff a set collection. But rather an accumulation. It's not like Atari where a collection might be defined as a base computer and all the peripherals in a catalog. That would be easy to get compared against what Apple II was. Apple II had like 50 or 100 80-column cards on the market. And over 100-200 modems, easy. Collecting *all* that would be a hollow pursuit. Instead one would just get the most feature-full peripheral of the bunch, of each category, and be happy with it. And upgrade it as time went on. Eventually (you'd) end up with a couple of examples of each. For example I have 3 brands of 80-column cards and each is significantly different and more capable than the preceding model. Each increasing in capability. I have two modems, a 300 baud and a 1200 baud. Later toward the end-times I shared a much faster modem with the Amiga and the PC.

 

It's how we rolled.

 

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C64/128, atari 8bit, ti-99/4a for the simple readon that they're the most available and supported where I live.

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For me, it's 486 to Pentium 3 era PCs, a roughly 12-year period. Mostly hardware, and then mostly sound and video cards. The ISA sound cards are most interesting to me because there was so much difference across them that they capture the range of innovation and imagination of the period for me. I have about 70 ISA sound cards (not all unique).

 

Most had to be Sound Blaster compatible, but some were good at the FM synth implementation and others weren't. But it is the variety of wavetable synths that makes these cards collectible to me. Video cards may make playing Doom a little faster or slower, but sound cards really change the experience, almost like the feeling you get playing a console game on different platforms.

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ZX Spectrum software. There are so many games, tapes are cute and are just the right size, they're mostly very cheap (for 1-3E each you can buy heaps), artwork is amazing.

I was never into collecting really, it's overall too pricey for me, plus I move a lot, but got the ZX tape bug last year and now have a few hundred of them. Amazingly, most of them still work fine too.

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As someone who has a few dozen systems now and used to have hundreds more, I'd say most vintage computers with a decent lifespan and lots of software can be equally fun to collect for. I certainly agree that an Apple II more than qualifies because it was around for over a decade and has countless hardware and software in all types of formats and packaging. Same goes for C-64, Atari 8-bit, CoCo, TRS-80, PC DOS (and Tandy/PCjr), TI-99/4a, etc. It seems like there's always something new or obscure to discover with these platforms.

 

Lesser systems (lesser in terms of lifespan or commercial software libraries), like the Mattel Aquarius, Coleco Adam, Spectravideo (pre-MSX), etc., can also be fun to collect for, but there's generally less available content or a higher difficulty in getting more things. With that said, fun is relative and I guess it really depends upon what you're most passionate about.

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2 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

As someone who has a few dozen systems now and used to have hundreds more, I'd say most vintage computers with a decent lifespan and lots of software can be equally fun to collect for. I certainly agree that an Apple II more than qualifies because it was around for over a decade and has countless hardware and software in all types of formats and packaging. Same goes for C-64, Atari 8-bit, CoCo, TRS-80, PC DOS (and Tandy/PCjr), TI-99/4a, etc. It seems like there's always something new or obscure to discover with these platforms.

 

Lesser systems (lesser in terms of lifespan or commercial software libraries), like the Mattel Aquarius, Coleco Adam, Spectravideo (pre-MSX), etc., can also be fun to collect for, but there's generally less available content or a higher difficulty in getting more things. With that said, fun is relative and I guess it really depends upon what you're most passionate about.

Bill, a little off-topic, but have you written anything about what the hobby (and life in general) is like after you sold most of your collection? It would be a welcome read.

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On 7/23/2020 at 1:12 PM, boxpressed said:

Bill, a little off-topic, but have you written anything about what the hobby (and life in general) is like after you sold most of your collection? It would be a welcome read.

Not really. There's not much to talk about from my perspective I guess. While I do occasionally miss a few software and hardware items here or there, I have a significant enough collection (limited to one room) where I'm not really missing out on too much. I've also done a much better job of being smart about what I have and have not acquired and why. It's kind of a lessons learned type of thing from the previous decades of collecting versus now. It's probably still too much stuff, but it's much more manageable and thus, much more enjoyable. Of course, these days I do work a lot on videogame-related stuff, so it's still hard even now to carve out the time and/or motivation to use it as much as I want to, but even that occasional use is much more practical and enjoyable now versus in the past.

I did post a little about a month back, with some photos, but I ended up reorganizing things a bit differently since then anyway, so it's not entirely accurate as of today: https://armchairarcade.com/perspectives/2020/06/22/a-brief-look-at-my-current-video-game-and-computer-collection-june-2020/

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Posted (edited)

The worst to collect for is the Amiga. So many incompatibilities. Want to run that public domain program? Oh it requires the AmigaDos Replacement Project libraries? What was that? AmigaDos 1.1 was so bad people took it upon themselves to write their own improved libraries. AmigaDos 1.3 and especially 2.0 made ARP unnecessary, but 2.0 broke a bunch of games.

 

Oh you have an accelerator, out of luck half your programs won't work.

 

You are pretty much stuck running cracked programs in WHDLoad. Blech.

Edited by rpiguy9907
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3 hours ago, rpiguy9907 said:

running cracked programs in WHDLoad

While you can find warez collections of WHDLoad-ed games, WHDLoad requires the original disks.

 

I came in around the 1.3 days (hard drive boot ftw.)  Some of the software I used still required ARP, but most of them eventually (and happily) moved away.  Yeah, it was a bit of a mess and the introduction of MUI caused a little bit of fragmentation as so many purist refuseniks eschewed MUI only to find that so many applications had gone to the Dark Side.

 

I dunno.  I moved from 1.3 to 2.04, to 3.1 with little problem.  Workbench 3.9 has given me little to no anguish, and when I pin myself down I will be going to 3.1.4 (or whatever the latest release is.)

 

A Kickstart switcher (cheap are the time) made game incompatibilities tolerable, and every accelerator I have ever owned had a way to disable on startup for those old games which really beat on the hardware.

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39 minutes ago, OLD CS1 said:

A Kickstart switcher (cheap are the time) made game incompatibilities tolerable, and every accelerator I have ever owned had a way to disable on startup for those old games which really beat on the hardware.

To be fair all of the more sophisticated systems require a lot of fiddling to use the whole software library (Macintosh, ST, IBM PC), but I guess I am just attracted to the simplicity of the C64 where a stock unit with a disk or tape drive can run the entire software library so long as a dongle wasn't required. No configuration, etc. From a collector stand point, extremely accessible.

 

The Amiga is pretty tough for folks who never owned one. Even as a long time Amiga owner, I constantly rediscover things I knew about AmigaDOS back in the day that I had since forgotten.

 

The biggest plus to Amiga collecting is some superb box art I suppose.

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My vote is for the coco computer.. there is a strong community with a weekly youtube show.. weekly game challenge,  you can find coco stuff all over the place..even Ebay  prices can be reasonable.. its a fun and easy machine to hack.

2nd is the msx ! I knew nothing of these systems untill recently and there are many models of machines great colorfull games ( but the carts are pricey ! )

 

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2 hours ago, rpiguy9907 said:

I guess I am just attracted to the simplicity of the C64 where a stock unit with a disk or tape drive can run the entire software library so long as a dongle wasn't required. No configuration, etc. From a collector stand point, extremely accessible.

I am with you on that.  Other than PAL games, collecting for my Commodores is easy-peasy.  My wallet says it is almost too easy!

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6 hours ago, rpiguy9907 said:

The worst to collect for is the Amiga. So many incompatibilities.

 

I never got far enough into the Amiga to experience the full range compatibility problems. But I could see the way it was going. I clearly recall there was something wonky with the parallel port on the A1000 vs A500 and I had use a gender-changer or adapter in order to continue using the Digi-View digitizer. That was the first inkling of "trouble".  I was transitioning out of Amiga into a 486 PC.

 

2 hours ago, rpiguy9907 said:

To be fair all of the more sophisticated systems require a lot of fiddling to use the whole software library (Macintosh, ST, IBM PC), but I guess I am just attracted to the simplicity of the C64 where a stock unit with a disk or tape drive can run the entire software library so long as a dongle wasn't required. No configuration, etc. From a collector stand point, extremely accessible.

Thing with Mac, Apple II, and PC is that their software libraries are beyond monster-sized. A complete collection isn't likely possible unless you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more. Just the Apple II alone has some 17,000 - 18,000 titles alone.

 

When the potential for that large a collection exists its definitely good to drop the completist mind frame and focus on what best represents you and the platform. What was best of each year. What was best from a select 10 or 20 publishers. And your favs of course.

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Or, for a different (less rose colored glasses approach), what was MOST COMMONLY present on a system from that period.

 

Most people that used an Apple II, probably used it in school, so the MECC library seems apropos, for instance.

 

 

For DOS systems,  Some old terminal software, some shareware disks, DOS 6.22 (or an older version, if this an ancient machine), and pals, with win3x (if it can do it)-- etc.

 

 

Go ahead and showcase the warts; it was part of the experience.

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18 hours ago, OLD CS1 said:

I am with you on that.  Other than PAL games, collecting for my Commodores is easy-peasy.  My wallet says it is almost too easy!

There are certain platforms I have both NTSC and PAL machines, including C-64 and Atari 8-bit. It just makes things easier.

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Posted (edited)

IBM-PCs win the trophy. Sound card collecting is fun, and your reward is being able to listen to your favorite DOS game music on a variety of different chips and MIDI devices. It's awesome.

 

Also let's not forget the consoles on cards: 3DO Blaster, PC-FXGA, Mega Drive... you can add thousands of games to your PC library this way. And it's all real hardware, not emulation! Bonus!!

 

Second place is Apple II. Its expandability is vast as well. Just a shame the Mockingboard sound card was woefully undersupported "back in the day." That's truly disappointing as it's a great sound "solution" for the line.

 

Edited by DeathAdderSF
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For me the most fun is collecting for machines I grew up with owning because of the nostalgia value. But on occasion I do like to collect for something I never owned back in the day but it has to be cheap. I mean collecting Amigas can get very expensive as people ask crazy prices for the hardware. I am also never going to get an Atari Falcon for the same reason. I did get a Sharp MZ-80b the other day which I am restoring. I'm very excited about that as I always wanted one.

 

I think the TI-99/4a is a fun system to collect for because there is a lot you can get very for very little money and it has that nice uniform look to it (software boxes and carts). Plus there are some fun rarities to hunt down and some new hardware items to obtain to keep your interest.

 

But being a CBM head I will always covet Commodore stuff first. However the exception is Atari stuff since I never had it in it's day and I think the Atari 800 is just a beast of a machine.

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For me the most fun for collecting is machine where you have a chance to finally have a fullset (being software or hardware) but where it is not too easy to find.

 

so for instance  machines like  Hector HR  or  Oric .

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On July 31, 2020 at 9:33 PM, rpiguy9907 said:

To be fair all of the more sophisticated systems require a lot of fiddling to use the whole software library (Macintosh, ST, IBM PC), but I guess I am just attracted to the simplicity of the C64 where a stock unit with a disk or tape drive can run the entire software library so long as a dongle wasn't required. No configuration, etc. From a collector stand point, extremely accessible.

 

The Amiga is pretty tough for folks who never owned one. Even as a long time Amiga owner, I constantly rediscover things I knew about AmigaDOS back in the day that I had since forgotten.

 

The biggest plus to Amiga collecting is some superb box art I suppose.

I'm with you with this.

 

I was an Amiga fan and I still own two A500, but I don't really collect or even use them. Frankly, I prefer the 8bit more.

Edited by Badaboom

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When it comes to computer popularity I don't believe any 16-bit rig has eclipsed the 8-bit from which it had evolved from. Or was next in line from.

 

Maybe the MAC is the exception to that. But state-of-the-art hardware and applications still aren't showcased on that platform..

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I am piecing together an Atari 520ST system, built almost identically like my grandfather's which I was promised to be given when he died but wound up in the bottom of some far-off family member's closet then went missing.

 

ANYWAY, while I do not have the software collection he had, which included some commercial and expensive C.A.D.D. software, I do have my work disks we set up so I will be able to recover all that stuff.  So far I have had a good time finding a computer in excellent condition from a fellow AAer, a custom-built power supply, monitor cable to connect to a modern LCD, an Indus 1000, and external 3.5" drive (I have to go look, but I think I stumbled lucky upon a SF-314, which would match his setup, as well.)

 

This has been fun and somewhat rewarding, but honestly I have no idea what I am going to do with it once I have it all put together and running.  Right now I do not have the room to set it up, but I am in the process of re-arranging my home office/computer lab so it should not be long.  I suppose once it is all together and working, I will work and play some, then package it up nicely for someone who will appreciate it.  Kind-of fulfilling what my grandfather would have wanted done with his system had some greedy selfish prick not surreptitiously gotten hold of it.

 

I am not bitter, you are.

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I dunno.  I rather enjoy the clunkiness and fiddily natures of the old IBM clones from the mid 80s. 

 

I have ingrained muscle-memory on getting those things going, and getting them set up.  The old 8bit generation had the whole "Ready at power-on" thing going for them, but I really like old clunky DOS. 

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