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Your best and worst vintage computer investments?

Twospruces

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2009
Messages
579
Location
Canada
Best buys

Zenith Z171..50$ very hackable .. schematics available. Added 8087, 1Mb sram, xtcf etc.

Sharp pc 6220. 25$ recapped and added 80287,? Schematics available

Worst... Toshiba 486 laptop 25$. No schematics...no luck. But working Conner hdd ;)
 

Patrick.B (TTR)

Experienced Member
Joined
May 11, 2011
Messages
414
Location
Houston, Texas, USA
Best purchase, 550$ invested into 2 computers printer and other nick snacks... after repair (and since I am a hobbyist that enjoyed fiddling with stuff I don't consider a waste of money otherwise I would be sitting in front of a TV watching it doing nothing productive) both computers sold, paid the 550$ invested and well let's say I had plenty more to buy the next two "investments"

Miraculous Deal (number of years back but less than 5), acquired a Model 4D for free, repaired the drives, clean it, sell and deliver to the collector, sell it for a very good price, and as I leave the said collector, he hands me 3 more models 4 for free... which after restoration were also turned over for a lovely monetary change in my pocket.

Is collecting profitable? I don't know I don't collect, I recycle, restore and sell. along the way, one f two systems end up being kept as mine, cost... none.
so technically since I spent no money in collecting the few systems I wanted, there is only but profit to be had when I do sell them :)
 

WimWalther

Experienced Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2019
Messages
419
Location
St. Paul, MN
My worst? Toshiba T1000 laptops.

I really kind of fell for these XT-era machines for some reason.. bought one and I got hooked. Guess I really liked the whole "(pre SSD) SSD" thing. So then I bought another..

Then both failed in the same damn fashion - LCD would fade out to blank a few minutes after power up. So I bought two more "working" units - one display died immediately, the other developed the fade after a couple months. Balls

Ended up with 4-5 units, all with the same frigging problem, none of which I could repair or even find any info on repairing them. Still have a couple carcasses & bits laying around here.

The manuals, case & PSU are available for sale or trade. The machines are junk IMHO. Just a crap design or poor implementation.
 

seaken

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2016
Messages
283
Location
Shokan, New York
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Since I don't buy retro or vintage computers for investment or profit I sometimes decide to "waste" some money just to learn something. I recently purchased a battery pack that cost me about $60 in hopes it would help me get my old Tandy 1400FD working again. But after I put it all together it still doesn't work. It is dissapointing but I don't consider it a loss, at least not yet. I just need to figure out whay it didn't work and try something else.

I also purchased a power supply for a non-antique computer, that I picked up for $35 at the local surplus store while looking for some old IDE hard drives, and ended up pressing the wroing button and when it arrived I realized I made a mistake and got the wrong PS. I reorder the correct PS and when it arrived I crossed my fingers that the computer would even work. Fortunately it worked. But the computer now cost me over $160 in total instead of $35. Oh well. It is making a good Linux system. And I learned about some of the alternate power supply practices of some companies, like Acer, that I didn't know about before.

But I did get another win recently when I purchased a third-party power supply for an Apple //c that I had no idea if it would work or not. When the power supply arrived I plugged it in and flicked the on/off switch. It worked! I had a working //c. But you never know if it's going to work until you try it.

It does take some getting used to, that is buying stuff and taking a chance it won't work. I have until recently aquired the bulk of my collection for almost no cost. Mostly throw-aways and dumpster dives, or $5 to $20 garage sale purchases. So I am not used to buying suff. But if I didn't buy some stuff I wouldn't have some working computers in categories I didn't get for free, like an Apple //c. I still have an Atari 800 I have never used because I don't have a power supply. That will be next. Hopefully it wil go as well as the //c.

Seaken
 

Plasma

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2005
Messages
1,556
Most of the stuff I got 15-20 years ago is worth a lot more now, so I guess it could be considered an investment. I wish it wasn't though. I miss the days when everything was cheap/free because it was just obsolete and not "SUPER RARE VINTAGE RETRO!!!"
 

seaken

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2016
Messages
283
Location
Shokan, New York
I was given a Toshiba laptop. When I turned it on the screen came on for a few seconds and then went blank. I never got it to power on since. I think maybe it is bad capacitors maybe? The power supply/brick does seem to work but the laptop itself is not working. It's not old enough for me to care too much. I think it is a Pentium 4? If it were a 486 I might be interested enough to troubleshoot it.

If anyone wants it they can have it. Local pickup, or pay for freight/s&h.

It's a Satellite A75-S206 and has an XP sticker on it.

Seaken
 

Twospruces

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2009
Messages
579
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Canada
Lack of schematics really dooms those Toshiba's. After delving into one myself.. the circuitry is not simple and it is quite hard to fix solely by observation rather than having a roadmap.
 

Eudimorphodon

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Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
5,433
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Upper Triassic
Lack of schematics really dooms those Toshiba's. After delving into one myself.. the circuitry is not simple and it is quite hard to fix solely by observation rather than having a roadmap.

Yeah. I have one of those 486s that has the classic “the light comes on and then immediately goes out” symptoms, and I hit nothing but dead ends trying to find useful advice. Seems like everyone who’d ever fixed one did it by lucking out and finding a NOS power board.
 

gepooljr

Experienced Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2012
Messages
161
Location
Las Vegas NV
I'm a hobbyist.... I don't buy/obtain old tech for investing.... I do it for the fun/enjoyment. Now, if someone offered me a VAX 11/780 free..... well, that would require some house re-arranging... :)
 

falter

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Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
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Location
Vancouver, BC
I second the Toshiba laptop regrets. I have a T1100 Plus that gradually flaked away and now does nothing when pressing power. I suspect it's the battery, which I'm sure has leaked all over the place inside by now. My T1000 still fires up, but the JVC hard drive locked up and now just does the click of death. I boot up Kings Quest on it from time to time to remind me of the time my Dad bought one of these new, and I was all excited about being able to play KQ wherever I went, only to discover the LCD made it pretty much unplayable. There's still something really neat about those old non-backlit LCDs though.
 

grimm

Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2020
Messages
48
Location
Spokane, WA
My best purchase was an Apple IIe that I got from a friend for $10. The only problems with it were a broken and missing ESC key and no cards, but it still worked. I have since replaced the missing key, the RIFA caps, and cleaned it up. Still works great, these things were built like tanks.

My other good acquisition has to be a fairly large Commodore 64 collection that I picked up for $100. It included a boxed 64, a boxed 1541, a boxed MBS801 printer, two boxed "The Boss" joysticks, a pile of floppy disks, software/games, and a pile of books. The 64 doesn't work and has the typical black screen and is in my list of stuff to do (I think that one of the roms are bad).

I don't know if I have a particular bad acquisition? I did pick up a TRS-80 COCO model 1 32K machine for $100 that I'm working on right now. It appears to work, but the video output is really noisy. I don't mind as one of the main purposes of this hobby is to fix them up and get'em back to working condition right? :)
 

seaken

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2016
Messages
283
Location
Shokan, New York
My best purchase was an Apple IIe that I got from a friend for $10. The only problems with it were a broken and missing ESC key and no cards, but it still worked. I have since replaced the missing key, the RIFA caps, and cleaned it up. Still works great, these things were built like tanks.

My other good acquisition has to be a fairly large Commodore 64 collection that I picked up for $100. It included a boxed 64, a boxed 1541, a boxed MBS801 printer, two boxed "The Boss" joysticks, a pile of floppy disks, software/games, and a pile of books. The 64 doesn't work and has the typical black screen and is in my list of stuff to do (I think that one of the roms are bad).

I don't know if I have a particular bad acquisition? I did pick up a TRS-80 COCO model 1 32K machine for $100 that I'm working on right now. It appears to work, but the video output is really noisy. I don't mind as one of the main purposes of this hobby is to fix them up and get'em back to working condition right? :)
Yes, I agree. I've spent some money on failed projects but it's all part of the process of learning what works and what doesn't. I do still regret trying to upgrade a BIOS on an old Sony VIAO PC that ended up a brick. I ended up throwing that PC out, but that was before I really started attempting to fix stuff. I've learned more since I tried that BIOS upgrade and I probably could have fixed it now. Oh well, it's all part of learning and exploring in this hobby.

Seaken
 

CommodoreZ

Experienced Member
Joined
May 18, 2007
Messages
160
Location
Z Labs.
Toshiba laptops generally seem to be prone to turning into bricks. From what I’ve read their 486 era ones have been dropping like flies because of “power supply problems” that need unobtainable parts to fix.
I used to believe that too. Seems that all of the Toshiba 486's have a certain specific problem wherein capacitors go bad and prevent the on board regulators from receiving power from an external power brick. Apparently they all work fine on batteries, but who's bothering to rebuild or replace Nickel Metal Hydride batteries these days? I've been compiling a few links to helpful resources that were able to help me fix my T1960CT earlier this year. Apparently one specific capacitor is the main point of failure, attributed to a design flaw that I understand Toshiba service centers were aware of. Maybe this will be of help: https://www.commodorez.com/satellite.html

sat1.jpg


I've spent far too much on T19XX series Satellites, some of which have been given to me for free. I ended up with 5 by the end, some relegated to parts machines. They made so many, and sadly far too many have been damaged by careless owners and the harsh realities of time -- but they can be fixed! I enjoy this laptop despite its shortcomings.
 

VERAULT

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Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
6,509
Location
Connecticut, USA
I used to believe that too. Seems that all of the Toshiba 486's have a certain specific problem wherein capacitors go bad and prevent the on board regulators from receiving power from an external power brick. Apparently they all work fine on batteries, but who's bothering to rebuild or replace Nickel Metal Hydride batteries these days? I've been compiling a few links to helpful resources that were able to help me fix my T1960CT earlier this year. Apparently one specific capacitor is the main point of failure, attributed to a design flaw that I understand Toshiba service centers were aware of. Maybe this will be of help: https://www.commodorez.com/satellite.html

sat1.jpg


I've spent far too much on T19XX series Satellites, some of which have been given to me for free. I ended up with 5 by the end, some relegated to parts machines. They made so many, and sadly far too many have been damaged by careless owners and the harsh realities of time -- but they can be fixed! I enjoy this laptop despite its shortcomings.
Collecting vintage laptops or vintage equipment with lcd screens is just not a good idea. Laptop boards are very tricky to repair, there are no spare parts for the most part and the screens are all going bad with practically no replacements out there.

Toshiba was a great laptop from the mid 90s into the early 2000's but thats irrelevant in the long run.
 

jafir

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Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
1,210
Location
Arkansas
There is a guy on the Computer Reset groups on facebook named Jon Guidry that bought most of the remaining Toshiba laptop NOS pcbs, so there might be some good parts available for some stuff. I don't think there was much really old stuff (T1100, etc) but I could be wrong.
 

Twospruces

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Joined
Dec 9, 2009
Messages
579
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Canada
Collecting vintage laptops or vintage equipment with lcd screens is just not a good idea. Laptop boards are very tricky to repair, there are no spare parts for the most part and the screens are all going bad with practically no replacements out there.

Toshiba was a great laptop from the mid 90s into the early 2000's but thats irrelevant in the long run.
I had a great time repairing the Sharp PC-6220 aka TI Travelmate 2000. I found the schematics and was able to fully repair the PSU, AND I was able to install the 80287 (there was a missing track in the PCB!).
 

VERAULT

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Messages
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Connecticut, USA
I had a great time repairing the Sharp PC-6220 aka TI Travelmate 2000. I found the schematics and was able to fully repair the PSU, AND I was able to install the 80287 (there was a missing track in the PCB!).
I hear you. I have maybe 6 to 8 vintage laptops myself. But what about 15 years from now? Most wont be working. Main batteries left inside most will render them dead as well.
 
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