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ldelsarte

My Atari collection, without me

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Dear Atari 8-bit fellows,

 

I don't want to ruin the mood, but I have a very serious question: do you have anything in your will regarding your Atari collection?


Let me explain. I was 13 when I got my Atari 800XL in 1984. So, I just turned 50. "Time flies". Family members, close friends and acquaintances get sick and leave us. It will happen to me one day too. The covid crisis has made things even worse and more complicated. I have no children and no Atari fans in my inner circle. What to do with these computers, floppy drives, cassette players, printers, software, cartridges, boxes, kits, books, magazines, user manuals, cubic metres of Atari? To whom should I leave all this? I beg you, please, please, no "send me all this!". I'm talking very seriously (and you too I hope).


This passion for Atari 8-bit computers literally saved me from a very dull & gloomy childhood, by allowing me to escape into a new universe. It developed my creativity. It also helped and motivated me enormously in learning English. The discovery, step by step, of programming changed my way of seeing things, by organising, structuring, and breaking down problems into smaller, more easily solved chunks. It clearly guided my university studies, leading to degrees in IT that made me what I am today. This is anything but trivial. Today I can afford to splurge a bit, but I often think of the teenager who bought floppy disks by the piece. It can't all end up in the garbage dump. For me, it's not just a question of money, it's much more than that and much more important than that. Even today, reading a magazine I didn't know about, or an Atari technical document found about a prototype for example, fills me with happiness. The older I get, the more I admire the marvellous design of the Atari 8-bit computers.


What will happen if I don't do anything, if I don't plan anything? Vague cousins, distant relatives, people who don't know me will inherit it all. They know nothing of the time spent patiently assembling this collection. They don't know about the little and big joys that this collection has given me and still gives me. They will bring in a "Nintendo expert" with one question, "How much is this stuff worth?"


In a nutshell, I'm looking for a museum, an organisation, a structure in Europe (continental) that will appreciate it and show it off. I have some very dear contacts and friends in the USA but I let you imagine the shipping costs, the taxes, the customs duties, the legal and administrative complications, and all the paperwork, monstrous. The UK has left the EU so everything is more expensive and complicated, and the full consequences of the Brexit are only just beginning to emerge. So, I'm looking for a structure - not necessarily dedicated to Atari, too good to be true - but I'd like to avoid two trestles at the back of a room in a museum dedicated to the glory of the Commodore 64.


I'm fine. I'm not sad, I'm not sick, I'm not depressed, I'm just thinking ahead. And it is precisely when you are not in a hurry that you can think calmly. Does anyone have an idea, an approach to explore, a suggestion to make? And what about you, how are you going to manage and bequeath your collection?


Thank you for your thoughtful answers.

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I mentioned in one thread that I'm feeling the same and been thinking about what I can do with my few bits. Ideally, I'd like them to be sold and the money given to my wife or daughter, but how do you will something like that..

 

 Reason being, I don't have a big collection or anything rare.. If I had, I'd want it to go to some sort of computer museum.. Then again, would I, maybe the same deal as before with money to wife etc..

Edited by Mclaneinc
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I think that succession planning will probably become more viable as time goes on and systems (and their original users) become more rare. As it is, I have a quite a few pieces of "value" to fellow users; quite a few pieces with some historical "value"; and quite a few pieces of high market "value". As I age, I'll probably just whittle down my stuff to the solid pieces which will age well, or are irreplaceable. I can't imagine that my original 800 from 1983 won't work forty years from now (it's survived the storm surge of a hurricane and a tropical climate for years), so I'll definitely keep that one around. Cheap manufacturing processs of the XE line will probably mean that it's going to become incredibly hard to fix or maintain those machines, though.

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My 2 cents, since I'm only about a year and a half from 50 myself.

 

As far as a museum or anything like that goes... Do you have anything that is really rare enough?  I'm sure most retro museums would have an 800xl or two... dozen.  When you consider what you have that a museum would really want/need, that might not be a lot, and the shipping and  such won't be so bad perhaps and the museum would likely be happy to make any arrangements.  An attorney could probably handle notifying them and getting things in motion when the time comes as part of the duties as executor of the will, right?

 

As far as anything else?  I would recommend reaching out to user groups.  They don't necessarily have to be local since this is likely a one time thing (I know I personally only plan to die once).  Depending on how much you have in the collection, could someone with a decent size truck handle it?

 

 

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The only museum I can suggest, is the "Oldenburg Computer Museum". It's in germany, and a nonprofit organisation.

You may visit the website. https://computermuseum-oldenburg.de

Or read the Wiki record

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldenburger_Computer-Museum

 

I' m in the same situation and thought about my electronic scrap (Atari, Commodore, Schneider, Sharp...)

I came to the conclusion, it doesn't matter.

For other (read: younger) people it is indeed scrap. Most of the (computer)museums already have all the important things in stock. They don't need even more .

If you made a decission, please let us know.

Maybe it gives me an idea how to manage my legacy.

 

Stefan 

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I'm 53.  

My suggestion for those who don't really have anyone (or a museum) that would want or appreciate their collection is to search now for an estate sale agent that specializes in such things.  They do exist.  You can set up a contract now to have them handle that part of your estate and have the money go to your descendants or a charity of your choice.  

I've thought about this too.  My biggest fear is that it all goes into the dump or becomes a burden for someone who has no idea how to sell this stuff.

 

 

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1 hour ago, ldelsarte said:

Dear Atari 8-bit fellows,

 

I don't want to ruin the mood, but I have a very serious question: do you have anything in your will regarding your Atari collection?


Let me explain. I was 13 when I got my Atari 800XL in 1984. So, I just turned 50. "Time flies". Family members, close friends and acquaintances get sick and leave us. It will happen to me one day too. The covid crisis has made things even worse and more complicated. I have no children and no Atari fans in my inner circle. What to do with these computers, floppy drives, cassette players, printers, software, cartridges, boxes, kits, books, magazines, user manuals, cubic metres of Atari? To whom should I leave all this? I beg you, please, please, no "send me all this!". I'm talking very seriously (and you too I hope).


This passion for Atari 8-bit computers literally saved me from a very dull & gloomy childhood, by allowing me to escape into a new universe. It developed my creativity. It also helped and motivated me enormously in learning English. The discovery, step by step, of programming changed my way of seeing things, by organising, structuring, and breaking down problems into smaller, more easily solved chunks. It clearly guided my university studies, leading to degrees in IT that made me what I am today. This is anything but trivial. Today I can afford to splurge a bit, but I often think of the teenager who bought floppy disks by the piece. It can't all end up in the garbage dump. For me, it's not just a question of money, it's much more than that and much more important than that. Even today, reading a magazine I didn't know about, or an Atari technical document found about a prototype for example, fills me with happiness. The older I get, the more I admire the marvellous design of the Atari 8-bit computers.


What will happen if I don't do anything, if I don't plan anything? Vague cousins, distant relatives, people who don't know me will inherit it all. They know nothing of the time spent patiently assembling this collection. They don't know about the little and big joys that this collection has given me and still gives me. They will bring in a "Nintendo expert" with one question, "How much is this stuff worth?"


In a nutshell, I'm looking for a museum, an organisation, a structure in Europe (continental) that will appreciate it and show it off. I have some very dear contacts and friends in the USA but I let you imagine the shipping costs, the taxes, the customs duties, the legal and administrative complications, and all the paperwork, monstrous. The UK has left the EU so everything is more expensive and complicated, and the full consequences of the Brexit are only just beginning to emerge. So, I'm looking for a structure - not necessarily dedicated to Atari, too good to be true - but I'd like to avoid two trestles at the back of a room in a museum dedicated to the glory of the Commodore 64.


I'm fine. I'm not sad, I'm not sick, I'm not depressed, I'm just thinking ahead. And it is precisely when you are not in a hurry that you can think calmly. Does anyone have an idea, an approach to explore, a suggestion to make? And what about you, how are you going to manage and bequeath your collection?


Thank you for your thoughtful answers.

Short from saying sell it Im serious not being funny when I say find someone  anyone that appreciates the product line and leave it to them. Im pretty sure most of this stuff makes it to the city dumps where I have seen A8s before when they are not left to someone who appreciates them. The two youngest ppl I know that appreciate the A8 are 10 and then 28. So there are younger ppl out there that know the product line. Just keep your eyes open and when you know the right person you let them know.

 

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If your collection is organized and documented, someone bringing in a "Nintendo expert" would not really be all that bad.  It might even make it easier for someone to sell or give it to someone who will give it a second life.   I whittled down my collection, dispensing with items/systems that did not "spark joy" and they wound up in the hands of fellow collectors, resellers who could find a more efficient means of selling it or to people who had one when they were kids (or perhaps when their parents were kids and shared it with them) and wanted to relive those days.  It gave me literal anxiety over the prospect of throwing any of it out - I had some extra game manuals from the systems that probably cost me more in labor and effort to sell than what I made out monetarily but it gave me a good feeling that they were "back in the system".  It's had the side benefit of making me appreciate more the items that I have kept.

 

You can always leave a note with your collection "to whom it may concern" describing your collection and any quirks or tricks to set it up.  As others have echoed the "bad ending" is someone posting pictures in a web forum years from now showing efforts to clean up someone's estate that had a bunch of dirty junky electronics that were collected but not curated and it all ended up in the trash.

 

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I'd suggest going through the media in your collection and seeing if there's anything which hasn't been made available to general public by means of scanning and dumping. You can then upload it to the likes of Atarimania.com or archive.org.

 

If you have some interesting bits of hardware you can donate it to one of the museums: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_computer_museums

 

Another idea could be not waiting for the Grim Reaper and simply auctioning most of the stuff you don't use or display.  Then either donating a lump sum to a charity or buying your niece a new bike - something along these lines...

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15 minutes ago, youxia said:

I'd suggest going through the media in your collection and seeing if there's anything which hasn't been made available to general public by means of scanning and dumping. You can then upload it to the likes of Atarimania.com or archive.org.

 

I've been doing that for my ST collection and was surprised to find one title so far that they didn't have an

image for, so donated a copy to them.

 

Must admit it does concern me somewhat, I'd hate to think my beloved machines ended up in a dump and I'm

probably older than most here, so might come a bit sooner for me.

Edited by TGB1718
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A bit over 50 here, I have one son who knows a bit about Ataris and might care enough to take one or two from my estate, but even that probably depends a lot on where in the world he'll live once it's time to leave and how much space he (or his SO) will be willing to allow for such follies. 

 

A small semi-public one-room museum/collection inside a technical school is the only one I know around here, I'd consider donating some stuff to them (or any other museum I can locate) but they would not even have enough space to show my whole collection, small as it is. 

 

My current plan is to see how much all that stuff still fascinates me (or grandchildren?) and seems to be a worthwhile use of my rapidly diminishing number of remaining years once I'm retired and then decide about donating, giving away or selling. As I don't have a very systematic collection (the main target was to have "one each" of all the 8-bits and some matching peripherals) I would not care that much about splitting it up. It really remains to be seen whether anyone will buy Ataris in 15-20 years from now. If i have to leave before that, my heirs are on their own and should know enough to try selling it rather than trashing it. These days it's rather easy to find out whether something is still sought after by doing a quick check on EBay and Craigslist. I just bought a box of calculators and PDAs off a guy who had inherited them from his grandpa but wasn't interested himself and there will be more and more Atari estates for sales as their owners leave us.

 

It's hard to imagine one's collection going to the dumpster, but even if it does, I won't turn in my grave, having left behind earthly sorrows...

 

 

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At 62 I'm in the same boat and have about 5-6 years to sell what I can before my living accommodations changes.

I have a bunch of A8 and ST gear, some I'll be able to keep with me, but most of it will have to find a new home.

Currently I am putting together a system for my 17yo grandson and will be sending it to him after I can locate some books and common A8 carts with a bunch of pre-loaded disks...

 

My STacy, MIO and black-box will be the first to go.

 

About 5-6 years from now, I'll be buying a truck and a travel trailer and start living on the road and at RV parks...

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54 minutes ago, AtariGeezer said:

About 5-6 years from now, I'll be buying a truck and a travel trailer and start living on the road and at RV parks...

Sounds like a good idea... I intend to start auctioning my stuff on the Marketplace here in the next few weeks... stay tuned.

 

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This hits close to home as my father passed away this summer.  There were of course some hobbies we shared in common of which I'll continue to enjoy those things we both did, and some family heirlooms, but there are some hobbies he had that no one in the family has any interest in which I suspect we'll just eventually sell off. 

 

I think one thing that would be interesting with the old computer systems would be if we wrote up a bit of our personnel histories and tucked them with our machines - where we bought it, what we liked using it for, interesting stories, a sort of provenance if you will.  Maybe some later owner down the river of time will get some enjoyment out of the tales of what we used our gear for.  Or maybe it just ends up like Ozymandias' legs in the desert...

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As @Tillek said, are any of the items of real historical value or simply sentimental value to you? I am not dismissing sentimental value, but those items will not have the same worth to someone else that they have to you. I am in my mid 50s and I had to make sure the last pieces of my father's classical music collection made it to the right place. Since he had items of unique value, he preplanned where he wanted those items to go upon his death. It made my job much easier when it was time to do that.

 

My 8-bit collection is much more recent (2015) since my original 8-bit computer was an Apple II in the 1980s. Therefore, I do not have anything of monetary or historical value. It gives me joy today. That is all that matters. If my heirs recycle all of it, they will not be hurting my feelings. There are no Apple I motherboards in my small collection so my heirs won't be throwing out a small fortune. 

 

Bob C

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First things first, label everything you have, if it works and what mods are installed, etc..  Label the boxes, not the machines. If you want to label the machine itself, the adhesive of a sticky-note doesn't seem to harm the plastic or leave residue so that works too. If you are so inclined, put an estimated value on it with year to factor inflation and fluctuating prices of antiques so that whomever goes through your stuff will be much more likely to sell it. If you are fortunate, you'll get a feeling for when your days are short and can start to get rid of stuff.

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Without you it is not a collection. Digitally archive via pictures, videos, dumps, written testimony and all other current media forms your 'Atari 8 bit Collection'. Post it online. That is your collection.

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The problem with passing stuff on is awkward on different levels, firstly, how many of us know folks that love the old machine, loads but how old are they, probably around the same age, so it's just passing on your problem to another person to sort out. Then there are the kids, while they may show interest while the parents are around will they just lose interest after we are gone, seeing it as something they did with us so as we are gone it's not something to do. What happens then, it probably sits in an attic or gets given to a thrift store, worse still, binned.

 

That's why I go for the selling route, hopefully it goes to a person who will use / love it, but at least it generates some revenue that family may need.

 

Again, unless you own something really rare then it's all stuff that most computer museums will have, to be honest if it's rare then selling seems the best option..

 

As I get older I still feel young at heart, and I'm still pretty able to do the stuff I want to do bar ride a bike, my knee's would just give up on that, but I feel ok, but I know my body has a different take on the story, so I'll start cutting down on what I have and only welcome in stuff I never could get if it comes up. Mine's not what you would call a collection, it's odds and sods that I really like, but getting around to using them is another matter.

 

Love the thread, it may sound morbid, but it's thought-provoking and something us that are getting on really need to address at some point..

 

May we all feel young at heart forever...

 

 

Edited by Mclaneinc
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16 hours ago, Mclaneinc said:

Ideally, I'd like them to be sold and the money given to my wife or daughter, but how do you will something like that..

@Mclaneinc Indeed! Very complicated to organise. It should be done when you're still there to supervise the operation. Otherwise, when you're gone, it gets tricky. @Sugarland mentioned "labelling" and it seems vital to tell things apart.

You have to be an Atari fan to understand the difference (and value) between a stock PAL Atari 800 and the 2 different versions of the PERITEL/SCART Atari 800 (both based on the PAL model) sold in France. The only visible difference between a stock PAL & a PERITEL/SCART is an additional DIN connector on the left side... The price is absolutely not the same... even the price of the 2 different PERITEL/SCART versions is not the same...

You have to be an Atari fan to understand the difference between a 800 leaflet and the two "slightly different" 815 leaflets. It's just a piece of paper, alright.

Finally, some US items may seem common... but they are less common here in Europe, especially when you add shipping, import, customs, VAT, etc. An example: how much does it cost, today, to buy a 1200XL in working condition in Europe (you know of course that it was never sold/imported here).

The list goes on and on.

 

It is even more twisted when the appraiser you make an appointment with and the buyer are the same person. He/she may spot something interesting and not mention it, on purpose. That's human nature.

 

I don't have a 1450XLD or 1090 but I have valuable items. BTW, that might sound "wishful thinking" and unreasonable but I would still love to buy a 1450XLD ;-) I know, I know...

 

I also don't believe this tread is morbid (it was definitely not my intend). Just responsible people thinking about how to organise things instead of putting the weight on somebody's else shoulders... and saving loved Atari "stuff" from the trash.

 

I'll explore the museum options. Thank you ALL for your input and feedback and suggestions.

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Something to consider when willing items: the person or entity (museum, foundation, etc.) that they're being willed to may not exist when the time comes to execute the will.

 

This is where it's important to document everything.  Make, model, serial number, modifications, and faults.  Do the same for peripherals (including power supplies), and software.  Having a solid level of documentation will also aid in insuring all of this while you're living.

 

Yes, it will take time to do this.  But in the event of your passing, it will make it much easier on the executors of your estate, particularly if an intended recipient is unable to accept the items.

 

Oh, and give instructions on what to do in the event of that recipient being unable to accept.

 

I'm basing this on semi-recent experience: these are things I wish I had had when I was handling my father's estate a couple of years ago.

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1 hour ago, x=usr(1536) said:

give instructions on what to do in the event of that recipient being unable to accept

Very, very wise... They might have changed their minds or just vanished too. I had not thought about that. Thanks!

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12 hours ago, Sugarland said:

First things first, label everything you have, if it works and what mods are installed, etc..  Label the boxes, not the machines. If you want to label the machine itself, the adhesive of a sticky-note doesn't seem to harm the plastic or leave residue so that works too. If you are so inclined, put an estimated value on it with year to factor inflation and fluctuating prices of antiques so that whomever goes through your stuff will be much more likely to sell it. If you are fortunate, you'll get a feeling for when your days are short and can start to get rid of stuff.

I have made it a habit to attach two Brother P-Touch sticker with all modifications to all machines I tamper with. One goes on the underside, one on the inside. That will at least make it easier to describe things when selling (and for me to remember). I'll resolve to inventory everything but that might have to wait until retirement.

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I have to chime in on this topic. In the interest of transparency, I have to say that I'm one of the Founders and Directors of the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, TX., a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

 

With that out of the way, here's the dilemma as I see it. Probably 90% of the people who love these machines are in their 50's, 60's and 70's. They grew up with the machines and have very nostalgic memories of those years. Many still use their machines, like myself, to this day. Even new Atari computer users (yes, there are some) are traditionally in the same age range as us. However, the next generation has no fond memories nor could they care less about these machines and this technology. They don't undertand the magic that we do because they didn't grow up watching the industry evolve. They didn't feel the excitement every time a new program was bought and booted for the first time. And there-in lies the problem. When we are all gone, will the next generation of 40-60 year olds be interested in buying our equipment? The truth is they won't.

 

Now, I'm not advocating that it be donated to a museum necessarily either. As others have mentioned, unless it's something really rare or a really big collection, museums aren't going to be interested. While we would accept it at the National Videogame Museum, that's mainly because I'm an Atari 8-bit computer nut (one of those 50-70 year olds that grew up with it). But when I'm gone and younger generations are running the museum, will they care? Places like the Computer History Museum are already not accepting a lot of items, mainly becuase they have so many and factors like warehouse space and costs are an issue.

 

I liken it to the fact that most people take technology for granted if they didn't live the experience of its evolution. I took TV for granted when I was a kid while my parents realized what an incredible evolution that was since they lived through a time when TV didn't exist. Same for my children who never experienced a time without internet and cell phones or personal computers. The sad truth is that the hardcore interest will die with us. Museums may have an 800 or 800XL on display but none of them are going to have much detail of the user experience that made it so amazing and certainly it won't be an interactive experience.

 

I wish I had an answer or solution for the situation but I honestly don't. Enjoy your machines and the fond memories you have of them. Sell some of your spare/extra equipment now while there is still a market for it. Write down a detailed account of your introduction to games and consoles that your heirs can read to better understand your experiences with the computer revolution and what these machines meant to you.

 

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He might be right.  However there are more computer nerds than ever today and the 80's 8bit era is now legendary in many ways. Maybe a teletype or daisy wheel printer or pocket calculators are more passe' but a usable computer that plays games... That's something a lot of people can readily and easily relate to.  So while many won't get the same nostalgia we do then can still appreciate and enjoy it.  Don't forget how modern tech makes people very upset at times with the spying, exploitative DLC, trolls, failed launches, game-breaking bugs, censoring and offensive agendas, etc... There are moments when simpler is a welcome change.  In my opinion, there's a place in the market for the hardware and it will continue to have value.

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7 hours ago, cx2k said:

I wish I had an answer or solution for the situation but I honestly don't.

Ditto.

 

One of the best things I feel that we as hobbyists can do is to accept that fondness and nostalgia are moving targets, and that our interests shouldn't be expected to be ones that generations coming after us share.

 

By no means am I suggesting that people who come after us Just Won't Care™, but in another 50 years someone who was born today is likely to have their greatest interests centred around the PS5, Xbone, or Switch - and/or their immediate next-generation successors.  This doesn't mean that they're rejecting what we grew up with, but rather that they just don't have a point of reference in life to make those machines relevant to their experience.

 

Spend less time worrying about what happens to your collection once you're gone, and more time enjoying it now.  Definitely plan for what you would like to see happen with it once you have passed, but realise that ultimately those decisions are out of your hands and ones you will never see the results of.  Whatever you do, though, don't let yourself go too far down the rabbit hole of worrying over what will happen to all of it.  That way lies madness.

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