Binary Dinosaurs Computer Museum
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Moan Bitch Gripe!

There's constant dropping of bacon sandwiches with the silliness that's going on on the online auctions. The increased popularity of eBay and newer sites such as ebid.co.uk has resulted in a glut of vintage kit hitting the market, but despite this sellers will still try to put their item up as rare! L@@K! Nowadays we're moving into the realms of ULTRA-rare and even BEYOND rare. What the bloody hell does that mean?

Even the most desperate Sinclair collector wouldn't stump up ridiculous amounts of cash for a machine you can still pick up for anything round a tenner at car boot sales. In my view, rarity is directly connected with the number of units sold (supply & demand, yeah? I remember some things from economics), so when you consider that the ZX80 sold in excess of 70,000 units that can't make 'em too uncommon can it? Mint condition ones, possibly, but even those are massively overpriced IMO. Also, it's the little white lies people drop into the bumf to make it more appealing, like saying a VIC-20 is from the 60's, or that an Atari 800XL is rare, or even <chokes on beer> that a BBC Master is difficult to get hold of!

I've been actively collecting since about August 1998 and in that short time I've managed to hoard a hell of a lot of stuff people regard as 'rare' and in most cases they've come from boot sales, council tips, markets, friends, skips and free-ads papers, and in most cases they've been anywhere between free and £35 each. Exceptions have been the Commodore 65, Apple Lisa 2 and Magnavox Odyssey, but those things are uncommon, particularly the C65 - there are less than 200 machines known to exist.

Other things that amuse me are the apparent scarcity of QLs and PC200s (I'd reckon an Amstrad PC20, aka the white version of the PC200, is more uncommon since they were US machines apparently; mind, I've just found 2 and they're both boxed so I've bought one) and people trying to attach value to something by adding *SINCLAIR ERA* or *SPECTRUM ERA* on the end of the description as if that's going to make people say 'oh it must be worth tons since it was out at the same time.'

Another thing is folk trying to sell 'rare' Horizons tapes (the demo tape given away with the Spectrum) on their own for a fiver, because obviously there aren't millions out there and I'm guaranteed to get at least one a week. Of course - they ARE rare to owners of Amsclair machines (+2, +2A, +2B, +3) since they were packaged with other stuff and the +3 was a disk machine anyway.

Actually, if I was going to mark a machine as rare it would have to be the humble Acorn Atom since up until a couple of months ago I'd not seen one offered anywhere for sale, even auctions....and that's not for the want of looking. In the end I got my Atom after I mentioned the museum to someone on a customer site, and HE knew someone who had built one! Now I've got one of course they're coming out of the woodwork......

The OTHER thing that gets on my wick is people automatically assuming 'collector' means 'berk with deep pockets who will give me £80 for a tatty boxed Oric-1 with no cardboard outer' and when I tell them the price I've been buying stuff for, ie good condition fully boxed Oric-1 WITH outer cover for £10, they (generally the spouse) decide to 'keep it for the kids' - an excuse I've heard far too many times before! Obviously a lot of today's kids will be happy playing with a 16 year old machine that they have to wait 5-10 minutes for the game to possibly not load :o)

Everything I get I keep, and when I get better condition machines I try to sell the duplicates to other collectors at a price I would happily buy at plus a bit extra for my time, packaging etc. Failing that it's the auctions. If stuff is donated I keep it anyway even if it IS a duplicate. I don't want to make money out of this except to maybe buy machines I *do* consider rare, such as the Tangerine Microtan 65 or the Sinclair MK14 - both strictly hobbyist machines and therefore not very common, Apple 1, Lisa 1 etc. I know where there's a load of Lisae, but only down to the geographic location - Logan, Utah in a Big Hole.

My Lisa 2 came about from a chance remark to Becca's dad when we were in the US once - he knew someone who had one who was moving house and wanted to sell it NOW. Thanks to Heathrow Airport baggage 'handlers' for losing it for a week.

Back to auctions - why oh why oh why do sellers try to tickle the item in question up to make it "appealing", "massively collectable", "rare" (that word again), "mint in box" etc when a quick bit of research tells 'em otherwise? MIB to me means just that, maybe a couple of minor dents, the occasional scratch, a mark here and there; certainly not some of the crap being paraded as mint on-line, ie "this is dead mint but the box is battered." Duh.

I guess basically what I'm trying to say is that the stuff is out there, but you've got to go and find it yourself. I think I will get a boxed Jupiter Ace, Vectrex, Spectravideo SV10, HH Tiger etc.....it's just a matter of time. Just look what I've got in a few years! If you can't be arsed to be proactive prepare to get stung in the pocket!

*Update* - Colecovision obtained via the power of swap.....mint condition too...
Sinclair PC200 also obtained by the power of swap, now boxed.
2 UK101s here complete with a case and an original box.
Nascom 1 donated
Nascom 2s donated
PET 2001-8 donated
PC20 found in the US and brought back
C65 arrives!
SAM Coupe arrives, in working condition

Moan over. Back to the show. Gods, I've got sore fingers. Please let me know your feelings if you've got this far!


All images and text © Adrian Graham 1999-2017 unless otherwise noted using words. Also on