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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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…