Would anyone really buy a 30-year old hard drive?

I still have my first computer in a box for sentimental reasons. I fired it up a few weeks ago and still works like the first day. I think of it as my own little museum. I upgraded the original hard drive, which I also kept.

The original HDD is a MiniScribe 8450. It is a 40MB IDE drive (I upgraded to 80MB–woo-hoo!). I Googled it to if there was any information online, and someone is listing one on eBay for $175. Now, I know that an offering price can be a total fantasy, but is there anybody that would want this at all, even for free? I was considering just trashing mine but this gives me second thoughts.

Lazy Game Reviewswould.
He’s a huge collector of older computer games and also restores old computers in order to play some of those games.

At absolute best, it would be a museum piece. But the supply of these things out there must surely outpace the demand of the small number of computer museums out there. And it’s not like a metal box with some places to plug in cables makes all that interesting an exhibit, anyway.

I suppose that it’s conceivable that some company somewhere has some legacy system that nobody dares to upgrade because nobody remember how it works, and they’re trying to keep it running as long as humanly possible by scavenging the scrapyards for replacement parts. To that buyer, it might be reasonably valuable. But it’d probably take more effort than it’s worth to find that hypothetical right buyer, and you’re probably still competing against a larger supply than demand.

A timely OP. I retrieved my vintage 1994 Macintosh 7500 a few days ago to prepare it for re-use with a mac-only application. The hard disk spun up but I had to jiggle it a bit to get it going. So I am looking for a replacement drive. They are out there – and pricey given how old they are. I’m looking at $60 plus shipping. I thought the same as you: “shouldn’t these be free?”

Anyway, to answer your OP, people like me buy 30 year old drives. But I don’t really want to.

Speaking of generic hard drives, a used one is not worth very much. Remember, they have a finite lifespan. A virgin one still in the original packaging, maybe. OP: just give it away if anyone wants it, otherwise, free magnet! (the platters have their uses too)

Computer museum: not everything is equally collectible. Was there anything special about that model? For a legacy system or old Macintosh it would be completely useless; it’s not like there is a need for actual vintage parts as long as the mass storage works. I would hack something up before spending $60 on a used 30-year-old hard disk.

I’m curious if people are buying them to maintain old computer (for whatever reason). It wouldn’t surprise me if an old 486 computer can’t handle an 80gb hard drive.

The BIOS probably wouldn’t even see it.

About sixteen years ago, I was at a small company where the voicemail system ran on a five-gigabyte hard drive and when it crashed, the biggest drive the system could handle was, as I remember, a ten-gigabyte drive. Even then, this was smaller than new drive, so we had to cannibalize a drive from another obsolete system.

I’ve heard that NASA and other government agencies have some obsolete systems running that require buying old hardware off eBay and other used marketplaces.

What you do is search for sold listings on eBay. I can’t find any sold listings for that model but for other models:

Huh? Why not?

These 80386 and 80486 processor computers handled hundreds of megabytes just fine.

80GB is a lot more than “hundreds” of megabytes. See what I was replying to. :wink:

I remember running into HDD size limitations from BIOS back in 1999/2000 as a young tech upgrading computers at a store. Here’s a random article talking about limitations:


Again, we’re talking about an 80GB drive, not the OP’s 40MB drive.

For the right person, anything can be saleable. A friend of mine collects old computers and has a mini in-house museum of them. Specifically, he’s trying to collect every machine he had or desperately wanted as a kid or young adult, in working order, though they only actually get turned on to prove they work, most of the time.

It doesn’t look like any obvious pattern to anyone else, some are just random old computers, but there’s a possible ‘complete collection’ to him. If one was short a working hard drive, sure, I could see him buying one of the right age to ‘properly’ complete a machine. Probably not for $175 though he’s a little eccentric, not mad.

I remember helping the local McDonalds with tech support in the early 2000’s. The DOS-based terminal at the time used a touch screen and a laptop motherboard. When the 40MB hard drives died, they would be replaced by 1GB drives (smallest available) with the first partition set to 40MB, the rest ignored.

I assume PC’s today don’t even speak IDE, most are SATA.

the only application I could see would be for a legacy system.

(By the time a company I worked for went VoIP, their phone system was so obsolete and unsupported they were buying spare parts off eBay. That’s the main reason for people buying incredibly obsolete parts - they NEED them for assorted legacy devices.)

I dId, last year. It was a 60 MB drive that I worked on and my company was quite successful with. It was one of the first SCSI drives. I didn’t buy it so much as a museum piece but to show it to my computer students to show them how far we’ve come. I also have a 14-inch platter from the first drive I worked on in 1980. That always gets a gasp from them.


There are a lot of systems still used by the military that were designed in the 1980s and 1990s. When an obsolete component breaks, they will pay big $$ for an exact replacement.

I used to maintain a small companies computers, and back in the day they had some custom made programs that they needed me to keep running no matter what. So that meant spending their money to buy whatever is needed to do that. So yes there is a market. Also Y2K did cause them some major issues, but they were able to compensate.

Supply and demand. MFM which topped out at ~150MB!, SCSI and IDE drives are getting rarer as people simply tossed them with their old computers. Even if kept in the box for 30+ years, there’s no guarantee that the lube on the drive spindle hasn’t dried up an seized the platter(s)

Years ago, I turned a couple of old Dell laptops into portable MAME machines (this was before tablets started dropping in price) and I decided to add SSDs to tweak the last bit of speed out of the system. I paid $30-$40 for a couple of 8GB! IDE SSDs, just because.

“No matter what” sounds like they don’t care about finding the exact same part or even the same computer or OS, as long as the software runs, so that situation seems a lot easier compared to the military case.

I have floppies of AOL 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0. Should we talk?

I would of made an offer for one of those………