PDP 11/44

Patrick Finnegan pat at computer-refuge.org
Wed Mar 11 16:31:33 CDT 2009

On Wednesday 11 March 2009, Richard wrote:
> In article <49B80F86.9070207 at update.uu.se>,
>     Pontus <pontus at update.uu.se>  writes:
> > Richard wrote:
> > > In article <p06240825c5dd0c2a411d@[]>,
> > >
> > >     "Zane H. Healy" <healyzh at aracnet.com>  writes:
> > >> I think he wants way to much.  I paid $100 for mine about 11
> > >> years ago, [...]
> > >
> > > No offense, but I don't think a price from 11 years ago is
> > > relevant anymore.
> >
> > No offense, but I'm getting one for free. Is that relevant?
> Nope.  Not when it comes to determining what people are willing to
> pay for a PDP-11.  I did some checking on ebay and machines much less
> capable or vintage than an 11/44 were selling for more than $100.

eBay is one method of determining value, but any one-time search you do 
won't have enough data to really be useful, since they only go back 2 
weeks in completed item searches.

> Examples:
> $475 PDP-11/73, item # 300295154117
> $200 PDP-11/73, item # 250375935263
> $105 PDP-11/05 boards and backplane, item # 230327891779
> $99.99 PDP-11 header panel only, item # 230327888816
> My understanding is that a PDP-11/44 is much less of a commodity item
> than either of those machines.  Given that the plastic header panel
> sold for what someone paid for an entire 11/44 11 years ago should
> indicate what has been happening in this marketplace.

I'm amazed that an 11/73 or 11/23 would go for that much... I guess I 
should start selling off my pile of QBUS stuff (though that itself will 
probably cause a dip in prices).

> More search results: <http://tinyurl.com/d4a4h2>
> > What it is worth is highly subjective.
> Yes, but I don't think you can argue that a price from 11 years ago
> is going to be even marginally relevant to prices today, even when
> accounting for a temporary dip in prices because people are less
> willing to buy now than they were last year.

I totally agree with this, though.  In some cases, prices even *one* 
year ago are net all that useful for determining value.

> What I've noticed on this list is that the people here have a
> tendency to undervalue what other people are willing to pay for
> vintage computing gear.  Whether that's because they are just too
> cheap to pay a higher price or because they are living in a past-time
> when vintage computing collecting wasn't popular (I paid $100 11
> years ago) or whatever, I don't know.  However, it has been
> consistent observation in my experience.
> Deals can still be had, but they are not typical.  I've received some
> stuff for free and other stuff I had to outbid other collectors in
> order to get it.

I think that deals are more commonplace than you think, just people who 
don't go searching for deals (ie, university and business surplus sales 
and auctions, dumpster diving, digging through scrap heaps, and things 
that people aren't willing to ship) don't see them, because they're 
hidden behind a layer of obscurity.

I get tons of great deals (which is a problem, because I end up with too 
much stuff) from Purdue's surplus place, where a lot of the 
non-commodity items just get recycled and the general public doesn't 
ever see them.  I've heard from at least one other person that another 
university's surplus place does the same thing... so if you don't have 
connections at these places, you won't see the "good deals".

In any case, the value of an item depends as much upon who has a chance 
to buy it, and what they're willing to pay, as anything else.

Purdue University Research Computing ---  http://www.rcac.purdue.edu/
The Computer Refuge                  ---  http://computer-refuge.org

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