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Is our hobby starting to decline a bit?

carangil

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There seem so be 3 types of collectors: Users, Collectors and Hoarders.

Users: I put myself in this category. I collect items I like to play with. I once bought a sealed box Atari game, open it and play it. I will buy machines with scratches but don't care because I just want to use the thing. I usually go for the less-than-perfect condition items because they are cheaper and I want to leave the perfect items to collectors when possible. When a hard drive dies, I have no problem replacing it with flash memory. I don't feel the need to keep everything stock or period correct, I enjoy the anachonism.

Collector: Buys things just to have them, but they just sit there on display. Sometimes this bothers me, because it does drive the price up on some of this stuff. I have no problem with public museum collections, etc, or even nice private collections that they show off in photos. It's nice to see a good display of well preserved stuff, but please, only one of each item! Want one in perfect condition for display, and a second one for use and abuse? Cool!

Hoader: Brags about having 20 of the same TRS-80 CoCo on the Facebook Vintage Computers group. They use maybe one of them. The rest are in boxes or storage, not being used, and possibly being damaged by improper storage. I hate these people, because it artificially drives up the price of these items. Come on, 20 Coco-2's? You need 1, maybe 2 to allow a spare or if one of them is a rare weird version. The other 18 can be sold off to people who actually want to use a CoCo.
 
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glitch

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Users: I put myself in this category. I collect items I like to play with. I once bought a sealed box Atari game, open it and play it. I will buy machines with scratches but don't care because I just want to use the thing.

Not sure if wanting to actually hack on/modify the hardware fits in with users, too. That's mostly what I do. It makes beat up/"beyond all hope" machines especially attractive, and then people are less likely to get upset about how you're destroying history or something.

Come on, 20 Coco-2's? You need 1, maybe 2 to allow a spare or if one of them is a rare weird version. The other 18 can be sold off to people who actually want to use a CoCo.

It's a free country, but this bothers me too. Especially the "getting ruined because it's literally in a leaking shed" crowd. I try to sell off the stuff I don't use/hack on for this reason...get it out to people who will actually play with it and enjoy it!
 

Unknown_K

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Hoarders tend to snag items that would normally end up recycled anyway, at least their hoards might be split up and make it into collectors and users hands eventually.
 

MCbx

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Different computers were popular in different countries, so with wider area market is not yet saturated. In my country Commodore MAX is rare, but German KC85, quite popular in Poland (but not so well as in Germany) is rare in USA.

From the carangil's post, I'm a mix between 1 and 2.
I have old computers I use, I run and enjoy using. I have my C64, a simple CP/M machine I built or Meritum. I use HP 200LX instead of smartphone, if it counts as old computer. But I also have other machines in collection. I know how to turn them on, program, load and save software, how to repair if it needs, but knowing their memory map when woke up at 3am... well, nope. I don't have a reason to have more same units, so I don't buy more if I already have one. If I get more "duplicate" machines e.g. from e-waste, I sell them using classified ads.

Well, when dividing hobbyists in categories, I started to think about the community itself. This text will be from someone who is from Poland and knows local old computer related cabare... err, community. It's very good that nowadays there are normal hobbyists communities like this one! Let this description be a warning. Until ca. 2010 communities in my country were more or less OK. Some members left, some members came in, sometimes starting from the beginning (for example, my first computer was 386 and contact with C64 was years later). Then most forums, sites and communities removed FAQs, not forum-related FAQs but FAQs related to the computers. Maybe not to keep an old, static web page, but rather not to let beginners into the "cathedral". I think this step was the beginning of turning communities to circus.
Nowadays... well, if you ask any question about diagnosing or repairing an old computer in Polish forum, you will usually get responses from two types of users:
a. "Flock of pigeons" - usually 5-6 users with "this is unrepairable, sell me! sell me!" attitude. I took this name from pigeons in Cracow, if anyone tries to eat in a main square, they walk around and beg for crumbs. These people have no idea about old computers and I don't know what they do with them, maybe they eat them? Generally, if they finally buy a computer some way, I rarely see it being sold again.
b. "You cannot solder/diagnose, you better pay me for servicing" - especially if user already captured signals properly and replaced half of bad TTLs...
The last local forum about some 6502-based systems turned into kindergarten. There are two users, they sell their own extensions and try to compromise opponent's module. Rational arguments ended in 2012, ad personam in 2014, today it looks like two children trying to shift onto each other for a poo in their pants :). Of course even the most sane users already got tired of sitting, eating popcorn and watching.
About forum related to old PCs, in which I was a moderator... I decided to abandon the community when it turned to a brony-version of dating service. With geek guys. Without bots.
Additionally, some people started to perform a strange form of collecting old computers. They started to collect defective equipment and store it without even cleaning. They offer enormous money for the hardware and have no idea what they bought. Problems in this equipment are usually trivial - bad SRAM, EPROM with blown line, DRAM with defective cells. After few years they try to sell this equipment. And they have a problem: When they bought these computers, replacement parts were cheap, EPROM dump was available in the Internet. Now parts are out of stock, and the site with EPROM dump disappeared. These "collectors" rarely get any profit if they sell such machine, but by trying to sell them for enormously high price they seriously mess in the market.
We also have sellers of fake EPROMs faking labels on a typewriter, "businessmen" selling 3.5" disks for 5.25" drive-based computers as originals, and a parody version of "Cosa Nostra", but this is another tale.
 

ClassicHasClass

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Why do you care if someone finds nostalgia in a Pentium II?

To the extent it doesn't interfere with me, I don't. But there are many more of them and an increasingly larger amount of people who are interested in them, and I think part of what people are noticing is that this is swamping out the lesser-known or smaller userbases (which include some truly landmark systems). I don't think that's good for the hobby as a whole.
 

njroadfan

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You and I should hang out someday, play with our Zoran MJPEG chipsets ;-)

Who's bringing the shotgun?*

I think the only vintage machine I ever paid more than $100 for is the Amiga 4000. I wanted a Video Toaster, that's just about it. I also like the mid-80's "16-bit era" micros. Still looking for an Atari STe to complete the trio :p.

*For those that don't know. Zoran MJPEG cards have caused me nothing but grief, particularly my Matrox Marvel G400TV. The capture drivers sucked and were non-existent for Windows 2000/XP. I specifically bought that card over the latest (at the time) ATI All-in-Wonder Radeon card since it had a hardware encoder. In hind sight, the AIW Radeon is a vastly superior card. It actually works and I still use them for analog capture today. Yeah, the drivers can be fussy, but they usually work (and exist for 2000/XP) unlike the Matrox ones.
 

vwestlife

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To the extent it doesn't interfere with me, I don't. But there are many more of them and an increasingly larger amount of people who are interested in them,

Exactly what we should expect, since in the '90s, an increasingly larger amount of people owned computers!

and I think part of what people are noticing is that this is swamping out the lesser-known or smaller userbases

Not here.

I don't think that's good for the hobby as a whole.

A few years ago one of the VCF organizers told me that he didn't consider anything post-1981 to be "vintage" and didn't think it was worthy of being demonstrated at shows. I hope he's changed his mind since then.
 

ClassicHasClass

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Exactly what we should expect, since in the '90s, an increasingly larger amount of people owned computers!

Sure, but that's only a good thing to the extent it increases general interest in vintage computing. When it increases interest to the exclusion of other systems, it's a net negative and reduces the diversity of the hobby (as well as, I'd argue, its value as a historical topic in and of itself). It's pretty clear from this thread that precisely how much displacement has occurred is a matter of dispute, but I haven't heard anyone say it has absolutely zero effect.
 

Plasma

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I don't think that logic follows. Nobody is interested in excluding older systems. It's just the natural progression of time. There are less Model T enthusiasts now than there were 50 years ago.
 

Trixter

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A few years ago one of the VCF organizers told me that he didn't consider anything post-1981 to be "vintage" and didn't think it was worthy of being demonstrated at shows. I hope he's changed his mind since then.

Was that VCF east? At VCFMW, we think anything roughly 20+ years old is vintage. The exhibits planned for this year are definitely focused on the 1970s and earlier, but the ECCC component brings Amigas and other post-1980 items, so it's all good. I think the newest thing we've had in recent years have been NeXT displays and an Apple Newton, still over 20 years old.
 

EvanK

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A few years ago one of the VCF organizers told me that he didn't consider anything post-1981 to be "vintage" and didn't think it was worthy of being demonstrated at shows. I hope he's changed his mind since then.

If you mean me, then you are seriously misquoting. That would exclude many Apple II models, all Macs, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, and zillions of other things which have always been well-represented at all the VCF events.

What I * DID * say, when VCF East re-emerged in 2006, was that * PCs * newer than the early 80s didn't seem appropriate. That is largely still true, however, times evolve. Things like pre-95 versions of Windows would feel vintage-y enough now. In fact, we've even got a 486 PS/2 running Windows 3.1 in the VCFed museum, next to a first-edition iMac. They're important historical milestones whether we like it or not.
 
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vwestlife

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If you mean me, then you are seriously misquoting. That would exclude many Apple II models, all Macs, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, and zillions of other things which have always been well-represented at all the VCF events.

What I * DID * say, when VCF East re-emerged in 2006, was that * PCs * newer than the early 80s didn't seem appropriate. That is largely still true, however, times evolve. Things like pre-95 versions of Windows would feel vintage-y enough now. In fact, we've even got a 486 PS/2 running Windows 3.1 in the VCFed museum, next to a first-edition iMac. They're important historical milestones whether we like it or not.

Thanks for the clarification. From what I recall of the conversation, you said something to the effect that the VCF exhibitions would only include pre-1981 computers, because you didn't consider PCs to be "vintage". You didn't mention anything about other post-1981 computers, so I took it to mean that you didn't consider anything post-1981 to be vintage. I'm sorry if that was an incorrect conclusion for me to make.
 

Trixter

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What I * DID * say, when VCF East re-emerged in 2006, was that * PCs * newer than the early 80s didn't seem appropriate. That is largely still true, however, times evolve. Things like pre-95 versions of Windows would feel vintage-y enough now. In fact, we've even got a 486 PS/2 running Windows 3.1 in the VCFed museum, next to a first-edition iMac. They're important historical milestones whether we like it or not.

There are many PCs from 1982-1989 that are historically relevant. Like the PCjr, which was a commercial flop even though it introduced concepts that we covet today. Or the Tandy 1000, which was a PCjr clone that fixed the PCjr's mistakes and ushered in the mindset that the PC could be a viable gaming platform. Or all of the DOS-compatible luggables with embedded CRTs (Compaq, Panasonic, IBM). These all represent the state of an era three decades ago.
 

ClassicHasClass

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When it increases interest to the exclusion of other systems, it's a net negative and reduces the diversity of the hobby (as well as, I'd argue, its value as a historical topic in and of itself). It's pretty clear from this thread that precisely how much displacement has occurred is a matter of dispute, but I haven't heard anyone say it has absolutely zero effect.

I don't think that logic follows. Nobody is interested in excluding older systems. It's just the natural progression of time. There are less Model T enthusiasts now than there were 50 years ago.

Beautiful dodge. Whatever the reasons for why doesn't mean such an effect isn't occurring, or that the effect isn't negative. Given that Model T's are landmarks in the car industry, to use your example, you don't think that the thinning of that community is a little problematic for historical preservation? Are you actually asserting that simple attrition is the only reason for why there are fewer of those folks?

More to the point, whether it's intentional or not (and I'll agree with you it probably isn't, in most cases), you don't think the sheer volume of users and inquiries would swamp out other discussion? If you don't, we'll probably have to agree to disagree at this point.
 

Osgeld

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you don't think that the thinning of that community is a little problematic for historical preservation? Are you actually asserting that simple attrition is the only reason for why there are fewer of those folks?

problem with this notion is that when the model T was the thing to have in old cars you did not get historical preservation, you got a gazillion hot rod tricked out monstrosities ... in perfect example the Munster Koach

Only one Koach was made for the television series and feature film. It was made from three Ford Model T bodies

1280px-Munsterkoach.jpg

which is to akin of the very popular until fairly recently (but still seen often) of destroying a perfectly good retro machine to load it up with a mini ITX or the fad now is a rasberry pi.

Its especially bad in video game systems where someone will take a fine condition gameboy and dremel the crap out of it to hot melt glue in a pi-zero. Now I have no problem modding out junk broken stuff but prices of gameboy's went up almost 3x as soon as some doof jammed in a pi and squirted 2 gallons of hot melt into it

and similar, those junky ass hot rod model T's are hardly worth anything, but a good example of a stock one (not nuts and bolts factory perfect) is much more rare today, and unless its price is compared to a pop culture icon like the vomit above, typically worth much more
 

Plasma

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Beautiful dodge. Whatever the reasons for why doesn't mean such an effect isn't occurring, or that the effect isn't negative. Given that Model T's are landmarks in the car industry, to use your example, you don't think that the thinning of that community is a little problematic for historical preservation? Are you actually asserting that simple attrition is the only reason for why there are fewer of those folks?

More to the point, whether it's intentional or not (and I'll agree with you it probably isn't, in most cases), you don't think the sheer volume of users and inquiries would swamp out other discussion? If you don't, we'll probably have to agree to disagree at this point.

Er, what dodge? I disagree completely with your statement. The Internet is not a fixed size. The addition or increase in interest in newer "vintage" systems does not automatically decrease interest in other areas or reduce diversity. New kids playing DOS games on Pentium IIs has no effect on the number of old guys playing around with their Altairs and PDPs and whatever else.

Unless you think you can dictate what people are interested in, I really don't see your complaint.
 

ClassicHasClass

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Er, what dodge? I disagree completely with your statement. The Internet is not a fixed size. The addition or increase in interest in newer "vintage" systems does not automatically decrease interest in other areas or reduce diversity. New kids playing DOS games on Pentium IIs has no effect on the number of old guys playing around with their Altairs and PDPs and whatever else.

Unless you think you can dictate what people are interested in, I really don't see your complaint.

You're evading the question again. The question I asked was whether you think the sheer volume of users and inquiries would swamp out other discussion, and you simply answered in terms of numbers of people in the hobby, without answering the question I posed or even what that means for future impact.

That said, I suspect you'd assert there actually is no impact, so as I said before, I think we've got no common ground here. I'll politely bow out of this thread.
 

Unknown_K

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For what it's worth I have the feeling that the number of people who collect "vintage" computers is much larger then the amount of people who join these old forums to talk about them. Die hard computer collectors are like die hard TV show watchers, they get around and are know but are a small part of the hobby where most people don't have vast collections or even bother to post threads about them.

While I find the old history of computers interesting, I don't want to play with punch cards or spend my days inputing code via front panel switches. I bet the old timers who collect mainframes would laugh at me for saying that. We all have eras we like to collect and explore and with time passing more and more systems and software will be out there for people to start collecting.
 
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