I have been involved professionally with small computer systems since the mid 1970s. Over the years, I owned and/or used many of the computer systems represented in this collection. I found the "early years" of personal computing to be very interesting and rewarding... My goal is to preserve this material and make it available for others to experience some of what it was like during this time period. I see too much of my experiences being lost in todays world of "appliance" computers (but don't get me started :-)
Unlike many other collectors, I don't just "rake it all into a big pile". My current activities include:
Repair and restoration (if possible) of all new machines coming into the collection. This also involves collection of partial/dead machines and parts to maintain and rebuild working units as applicable.
Proper storage in a dry environment, with each machine being powered-up at least once a year to identify and repair any problems or deterioration which may occur.
Archival storage of software and documentation, with an ongoing effort to scan/image this material so that it can be preserved and shared with others.
Making the machines available to interested individuals either by loan (subject to approval) or by appointment here at my location.
Taking selected machines out to local schools and club meets for demonstrations of "computing past".
Maintaining this web site, where anyone can see high resolution photos of the machines (inside and out), as well as download documentation and software (as I can make it available). In some cases, I am able to provide a simulation, allowing people to actually experience what it is like to use these machines.
Longer term, I hope to make this material more available via more detail on the web site, and possibly some kind of small physical museum and other venues - this is what I plan to do to "keep busy" when I retire.
In general: Yes - I maintain and repair all of the equipment as needed. There are a few devices which are still waiting for the right part to come along, however most of the collection is fully functional.
Please see my notes on rarity.
Unfortunately no: People have become accustomed to the idea that a computer just a year or two old is obsolete, so vintage machines which do not run "modern" software at all are considered by most to be worthless and routinely sent to the trash heap. Fortunately, there are a few of us who appreciate the significance of these early designs and do our best to keep them from the landfill. A few of the very earliest machines have become collectable enough to have value to a few select people, however most of these devices can be found at garage sales, and often beside the road on trash day.
I often get the feeling that people asking this question are wondering if I am planning to sell these machines on Ebay (or by some other means). In general, the answer is NO - I do not do this to make money (in fact quite the opposite is true). My goal is to preserve and share this material so that my experiences during the early years of computing are not lost. Due to space limitations, I do from time to time "trim" the collection, and may offer select systems for sale or trade, however this is not a primary activity.
Possibly, although due to space concerns, I do have to be somewhat selective about what I take in. In general, I am interested in any "personal" (ie: small) computer which is earlier than about 1990, and is not an "IBM PC Compatible" or an "Apple Macintosh" - The older it is the more I am interested, and obviously machines which I do not already have listed are "most wanted".
There are so many that it is not practical to give a complete list - Here
are some general guidelines on what I am most interested in:
No: Especially if it has not been run in "years". There are certain parts which can deteriorate during long term disuse, and just "turning it on" may cause damage - I have procedures for safely powering up equipment which has been out of service for an extended period of time
Not to worry! Like most collectors, I do not keep or publish any personal material that I find on systems coming into the collection. At your request, I will either destroy it, return the disks to you, or possibly transfer it to a format that you can read on a modern computer (this depends on the type of data).
Sorry, but I am NOT a vintage computer broker. As noted above, most of these machines are considered "worthless" by most people. If you have a truly rare/unique system, it MAY be worth something to somebody, somewhere, but this is highly dependant on both the machine and the potential buyer. NOTE: I've gotten much email from people asking me to value/help-sell old PC's that I've adopted a "delete immediately" policy - I will not respond to emails of this nature.
Possibly, but due to the number of requests I receive and the time involved, I do so only on a contract service basis. I simply do not have resources to provide a free classic computer support service (thats one of the purposes of this site). See also "Where can I get help" at the end of this FAQ.
Sorry, I do not provide physical media for classic systems. What I do is provide the means for you to recreate disks on your own - see the "Download software/images" section near the end of the main page. NOTE: This is a fairly technical process, before asking me for help, please see the preceeding section. See also "Where can I get help?" at the end of this FAQ.
The best way I know of to contact people knowlegable in classic systems is through the Classic Computer Mailing List - this is accessable at: www.classiccmp.org - look for "Mailing Lists" in the upper right corner of the main page. Chances are you will find someone close to you who is willing to help you with your classic system. NOTE: Sometimes it takes the list administrator "a while" to process subscription requests - You can read the list immediately via the web archives which are updated daily, and the last time I checked you could post to the list without being subscribed (You will be able to tell if it worked by checking the archive).
Please see the notes on my contact page.