How to collect vintage Macs and other computers for fun (and maybe profit)

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Once you start collecting computers, it's hard to stop!
Once you start collecting computers, it's hard to stop!
Photo: David Greelish

Some people only care about the latest technology. For others, collecting the significant computers of the past — whether it’s an iconic first-gen Macintosh or iPhone, or failures like Apple’s short-lived Pippin games console — is fun in its own right.

If you fall in to this second group, you’ll love these five computer collecting tips to get the most out of your hobby. They will help you turn your passion for vintage Macs into an eye-catching computer collection.

These retro Mac fans were podcasting before it was cool

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James Savage and John Leake know a thing or two about computer history, especially when it comes to Macs.
James Savage and John Leake know a thing or two about computer history, especially when it comes to Macs.
Photo: James Savage

Cult of Mac 2.0 bug When James Savage and John Leake uploaded the first episode of their RetroMacCast, they were thrilled with the number of downloads: 18.

Not exactly a meteoric start, but considering neither host ever had that many people at one time interested in hearing them talk about old Apple computers, this was a pretty big deal.

KansasFest solder session proves there’s fun in melting metal

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Rachele Lane watches her husband, John, try his hand at soldering at KansasFest.
Rachele Lane watches her husband, John, try his hand at soldering at KansasFest.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini is at KansasFest this week to write about the community of people who celebrate the foundational Apple II computer.

KANSAS CITY, Mo – If you’re going to carry a torch for the Apple II computer, you better know how to control its heat and melt a little solder.

The Apple II will turn 40 next year. Many of these seminal machines will light up like new thanks to a community of people who have to be their own Genius Bar. So KansasFest is not just about love, but the labor of keeping that love alive.

Apple I charity auction could top $1 million

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This Apple 1 board is one of a kind.
This Apple 1 board is one of a kind.
Photo: CharityBuzz

An incredibly rare and unique Apple I computer is set to hit the auction block next week, and it could break the record for the most money ever paid for one of Jobs and Woz’s first computers.

CharityBuzz revealed today that it will auction off an original Apple 1, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Because the circuit board on the item up for auction is rare even among the 60 or so surviving Apple 1 computers left in existence, it could pull in more than $1 million.

Apple II fans find themselves in hog heaven at KansasFest

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Cult 2.0
Kathryn Szkotnick worked quickly to grab all the pieces for an Apple IIGS during KansasFest's "Garage Giveaway."
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini traveled seven hours and (39 years) this week to Missouri to witness the annual celebration of the Apple II computer known as KansasFest, which runs through Saturday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Yellowed keyboards, monitors and disk drives sat in orderly piles. It certainly wasn’t pretty to look at, not when you compare these ancient artifacts of personal computing to a shiny new MacBook Pro.

But 80 infatuated campers could only see their first crush and they were ready to pounce. In a matter of minutes the gear would be claimed, and this dash and grab Wednesday was the kickoff the 28th annual KansasFest. If you don’t know KansasFest, the short answer is found in a cheer shouted to officially open the event: Apple II forever!

Radio Shack may die, but its ’80s-era portable PC lives on

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The Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 came out in 1983 and was a popular tool with writers.
The Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 came out in 1983 and was a popular tool with writers.

Some journalists remember the day the future arrived: We felt like James Bond on special assignment when our editors, playing the part of provision master Q, handed us the portable device that would allow a story to be written in the field and transmitted back to the office.

So when Radio Shack said earlier this month it would file for bankruptcy, more than a few of us flashed back to the TRS-80 Model 100, one of the first notebook-style computers.

Released in 1983, it set portable computing in motion. The TRS-80’s liquid-crystal display showed eight lines of text. The computer came in 8K and 24K versions and weighed just over 3 pounds. A later version, the Model 200, boasted a flip-up screen that showed even more text, but the original model was by far Radio Shack’s most popular, with more than 6 million sold.

This old computer fetched nearly $23,000 on eBay

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A Commodore International working computer prototype sold on Ebay for $22,862.01. Photo: Thomas Conte/Flicr
A Commodore International working computer prototype sold on eBay for $22,862.01. Photo: Thomas Conté/Flickr CC

Computer users of a certain age remember the Commodore 64. Millions brought the future into their homes with this, their first personal computer.

And if you still have a Commodore 64, dust it off and make sure it’s not a Commodore 65. A model with the higher digit sold on eBay Sunday for close to $23,000.

The 64 still holds sales records. It outsold IBM and Apple during the early 1980s, in part because it sold in retail stores and not just electronics or computer stores.

But the 65? It never made into the stores.