Is there a point at which 8086 PCs like the original IBM Personal Computer will become collectible?

In perusing eBay you occasionally see some optimistic listings asking several hundred dollars for a 8086 brand name (IBM, Compaq etc) doorstop, but almost no completed sales (that I can see).

The IBM XT 8086 “personal computer” based PC is one year shy of it’s 40th birthday. Is there any anticipation that these old dust collectors will become collectible anytime soon?

30th birthday. Sheesh, way to make me feel old!

Edit: and that’s an 8088, not an 8086. Why yes, I do know more about microprocessors circa 1981 than I do about microprocessors circa 2010, thanks for asking.

Thanks for the date and CPU correction. once I get past my fingers and toes all hell breaks loose.

Okay, hands up, who else has a Commodore 64 up in the attic just waiting for the price to peak?

Collecting old computers would pose unique challenges of space and maintenance.

What did happen to old pioneers like ENIAC? Are they still assembled somewhere? Were they broken down and sold tube-by-tube to hobbyists, like fragments of the True Cross?

Retro computers in general, not just the original IBM PC, have had a strong and persistent popularity for many years now. I’m sure collectors are aware of the anniversary years. However, because these machines sold in the millions, and because many are still in decent (if a bit stained or dented) condition, they don’t normally sell for very much. Not for several hundred dollars. Closer maybe to $50 to $100.

Unless, perhaps, you have a “new in the box” model with all the original materials, everything wrapped up just as it was from the factory. A unit that someone bought and then just stuck in a closet somewhere, for whatever reason.

A few months ago an Apple IIc, new in the box, sold on eBay for about $1200 — which oddly enough is very close to the original retail price as it was in 1984. Usually they go for about $40-$70.

I once sold the BOX that a Mac 128K came in to a guy in Japan for $100, so that proves that everything is collectible to someone.

Boy, he was hard core. The box that the Mac Plus came in was much more capable.

Well, like all collectibles it’s a matter of supply and demand. In the case of obsolete computers, we have a situation of very little demand, and an original supply in many cases of millions.

So there are lots and lots of obsolete computers sitting around, and very few people who want them. What does that do to the collectible price for the item?

The one advantage is that lots of these old crap computers were thrown away, which is why comic books from the 50s and 60s are valuable because although they were printed in the millions they were thrown away by the millions. When you get to the 80s everyone realized that comic books were collectible, and so they didn’t throw out their comic books, which means most comic books from the 80s and 90s and 00s are worthless, especially those printed as instant collectibles.

I wonder if he’s the same guy who just bought Marilyn Monroe’s chest X-ray for $45,000.

Most of the IBM keyboards from that era that are or can be made compatible with current PCs can fetch pretty decent prices. Especially new in box. Not sure how big the market really is for those, but supply isn’t that high anymore after 30ish years.

The 1981 original is the “IBM PC” (model 5150). The “IBM PC/XT” (model 5160) was a new machine that was introduced two years later.

To see what happen to the Eniac go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC#Parts_on_display. Essentially, it is half-way between, not still assembled, but not quite broken up tube by tube. When I was a student at Penn in the late 50s, you could still go down to the basement of the Moore School and see it. Now it seems that 10% of it is still there, some parts are at the Smithsonian and some parts elsewhere.

I just wanted to add that I have an original IBM PC (no hard drive) and the last time I turned it on, it booted. However, I have given away the original IBM-DOS diskette (no version number, but 1.0 in retrospect) so it would at best boot in “cassette basic”.

You can get a Cray-1 board. Hurry now while supplies last!

I had a running NeXTstation color slab in fantastic shape that I donated to a computer museum in Austin. It just took up too much space. NeXT computers are supposed to be hot future collectibles, but I had no luck finding a buyer for it the times I tried to sell it. (I was asking $100.) I’m trying to lead a clutter-free life, and I couldn’t find a place for the NeXTstation in it.

Waiting? Hell, I’ve got one that I still use. With enough functioning microswitch joystics and 1541 disk drives to last me a lifetime. Yay!

Boy, I wish I had my father’s computer. He bought it used in the mid '60s to do engineering calculations. It was in several instrument racks and had row after row of silver-topped tubes, and cable bundles the size of my arm between the racks. He said when they ran it, the office got warm. I have no idea what happened to it…

I’d buy the old keyboards.

So that makes two references to people buying old keyboards. Umm, why?

I only used one once and it was the best keyboard I have ever used.

Metal keys, mechanical motion, solid keypresses. It was the closest thing to using a real typewriter. Nowadays, they’re all made out of sponge or something.