This guide is for the serious, well endowed collector. Time machines aren’t cheap but along the way you may get previously unknown signal or gobble an epic slice of technocracy.
Needle in a memory stack
The chance of stumbling on an Apple 1 or finding a cache of Scelbi parts was higher 20 years ago than it is today. Sophisticated tech traders have an efficient market to turn vintage into cash.
You can’t take it with you
Estate sales are a great source of tech collectibles. The sorting and preservation is done. I have a lot of fun finding a note from Watson Sr. congratulating a new recruit or art drawn by a worker battling electromechanical beasts.
Obsolete technology is a vast wasteland of electronic junk. Only a very small number of items even merit consideration as collectible. Just because something is old and shiny does not a collectible make.
Alan Toffler compared technology advances to waves coming in from the ocean. This is a good starting point to consider as an advance like the transistor will lift all boats. Outliers that benefit early on get crashed down upon becoming flotsam. Is Dell now jetsam?
Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext
From Dits to Bits – Herman Lukoff
The Logician and The Engineer – George Boole and Claude Shannon
Revolution in the Valley – Andy Hertzfeld
iCon – Steve Jobs
Lessons – Dr An Wang
Father, Son and Co – Thomas J. Watson
Hello World – Dennis Ritchie
Where not to start
Manufactured collectibles like the Macintosh 20th Anniversary Edition are terrible places to start collecting. The product lacks historical significance and is of poor fit and finish.
Where to start
A rare Intel chip can be a good test if you are really cut out for collecting or interested in keeping the items for the long term. Chips take up little space and can be easily tested.
One of the most important factors affecting value is condition. Is the item complete and in original condition? A damaged or dirty item has no place in your main display.
Calculators, radios and even electric razors all have examples that have a rare, historically significant quality about them.
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Movie Props Guide
The science fiction begets science fact. The entertainment industry has moved the progress of technology forward in times of stagnation in real world product development. The communicator and tricorder from Star Trek. The “follower” from Logan’s Run. All interesting 60’s and 70’s fictional tech that stirred the imagination of millions of young engineers and business people.
Nan Yu’s Chinese supercomputer from Expendables
Just in from Profiles in History comes this resin supercomputer from the Expendables 2 used by Chinese actress Nan Yu. Tellingly it is powerful enough to hack American security in seconds.