Getting out of the hobby

Julian Wolfe jrw at
Thu Oct 13 09:48:47 CDT 2016

Funny, there's this 11/23+ (BA11-S style) I bought from Pavl Zachary many years ago, it's been a near-constant companion through all of my moves and most of the VCF Midwests.  Despite the bouncing, banging, and shuffling, it's always worked.  It ran 24/7 at my home for much of its life, without so much as a hiccup.

We found a brand new 11/23+ a few weeks ago that promptly smoked its power supply on power-on.

I have a second unit that I keep for spares, but the power supply gets flicked on regularly whenever I can remember to do so, just to keep the caps from drying up.  I've never needed any of its parts.

My experience is that classic computers are like anything else that isn't exercised regularly - it isn't just sufficient to repair them and take them out every few years for use.  They need love.

If it were me in your place, I'd pare down what you have and just use your favorites on a regular basis for minimum grief.

---- On Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:07:29 -0700Seth Morabito <lists at> wrote ----

Hey folks, 


Recent activity on the list, especially the "Ka... ching!" thread, has 

had me reevaluating a lot of what I get out of this hobby. I think there 

are two things going on that make it less fun for me now: The money, 

and the age of the stuff. I'll try to explain. 


I've never been a real "collector", I suppose. I don't feel a burning 

need to fill every hole in a product line, or to put things on display. 

I've also never been in this for the money, far from it. No, the only 

reason I've ever collected classic computers is because I've loved 

playing with them. That's really all there is to it. I enjoy the sights, 

sounds, and smells of firing up vintage computers and seeing them work. 


On the money front, as I said I've never been in this for the money. 

There was a time when most of this stuff could just be had for free, and 

that was fun! Going on rescue trips was a blast. I'll never regret 

driving down to LA from the Bay Area to rescue a PDP-11/34, or the time 

that a bunch of us got togethr and picked up an 11/45 and an Imlac PDS-1 

from Bill Gosper's house. What a time that was -- I didn't even keep any 

of it, I was just there for the rescue and the camaraderie. 


But nowadays, there's so much less of that. 99% of what trades hands 

seems to go back and forth on eBay for real big bucks. And that's 

probably just the sign of a maturing hobby, but it's not really what I 



And secondly, lately there's been a lot less of "firing up vintage 

computers and seeing them work", and a whole lot more "carefully 

replacing capacitors and praying that the vintage computer will still 

fire up". We've reached the point where the hardware I love is dying. 

It's been dying for years, I suppose, but now it's in hospice care. And, 

frankly, that part of it is so much less fun for me than actually using 

the systems. Am I just lazy? Maybe. And don't get me wrong, I've learned 

SO MUCH about electronics from taking care of these systems, so I don't 

consider it a loss at all. It's just not what I want to spend my time 



I've been ruminating on all of this pretty hard for the last couple of 

months, and I've concluded that my enjoyment just isn't there any more. 

Now that I'm surrounded by a bunch of stuff that I'm not getting 

much out of, I feel like I'm being weighed down by the hobby. I think 

it's time for me to move on and concentrate on other things. 


I'm not sure yet what that means for my current collection. It's already 

much smaller than it once was, as I've found homes for a lot of things 

over the years. I've moved a lot, and every time I've moved I've found 

homes for things I didn't want to take with me. It's probably time to do 

that again, only without the moving part. 


I think probably I'll have one last big "sale" of stuff, which I'll post 

about here. At this point most of what I have is vintage home computers, 

terminals, and QBUS PDP-11 stuff, so not everyone will be interested in 

it -- but maybe some people will. 




Seth Morabito 

web at 

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