Ebay Lunacy

After the retro-ish post yesterday, I was inspired to see what was available on Ebay from the days of computing’s past. I was instantly reminded why I rarely buy vintage computer stuff on Ebay.

I used to, and once in the bluest of blue moons still do, but I would like to draw your attention to a few auctions that exemplify why I pulled away from it long ago.

It used to be that you could find fun vintage tech stuff on Ebay: Osborne luggables, IBM Convertibles, Northstars, all sorts of great stuff could be rummaged up.

Not any more.

I found one auction, the first one below, that so absurd in its price it spawned this whole post, but I decided to dig deeper and see what else was priced so ridiculously that my eyes would widen even further in disbelief. I arranged the auctions by price from highest to lowest, and I wasn’t disappointed. Actually, I was supremely disappointed.

Before I show you some of the gems, I’d like to remind all of you that we said people can pay anything they want for anything they want and it’s no-one’s place to judge. In these cases however, I think some judgement would be in order.

The list, in no particular order since they’re all comically out of touch with reality:

Amiga 1000: $6,000 + $1,000 shipping

Don't buy this

Don’t buy this

The Amiga was a great machine, running on the AmigaOS known as “Workbench,” and had graphics capabilities so revolutionary it was used by production studios to do television animations like those for the NFL. On top of that, the popular video-editing system developed for use with the Amiga, the Video Toaster, was created by Brad Carvey, brother of SNL alum Dana Carvey, and was the basis for the character of Garth that he played in the Wayne’s World movies.

Also, strangely, the Amiga 1000 came out before the Amiga 500. I have both, and paid about $100 for the pair. They’re great machines, all Amigas are, but none of that makes it worth this nonsense price, and the shipping is simply an insult.

TRS-80 Model-II w/8″ floppy drive and boot disks: $7,000, but at least it’s free shipping

Ah, memories. Well, not of this.

Ah, memories. But not of this.

The TRS-80, this TRS-80 to be exact, is one of three PCs I learned to program on during my early years, the others being the obscure Commodore PET and legendary Apple IIe. Developed by Tandy, parent company of now-struggling Radio Shack, it had some nifty capabilities such as being able to clone 64k of memory into 10 banks to make it seem like it had 640k of memory. Like the Amiga, it’s a great machine that was very popular for its time. I get that the Model II listed in the auction is the rarer of the TRS-80 line, but if anyone thinks it’s worth $7,000, I have two Amigas they might be interested in.

Osborne-1 luggable PC: $2,800

$_57

It may not look like much, or it may look like a lot, a huge machine built around what looks like a tiny screen, although at five inches that screen is as big as some smartphone screens today. It was heavy at around twenty pounds, but you could carry it as long as you could stop for an occasional rest or re-socket your arms, but it ran on the CP/M operating system (remember our talk about Gary Kildall?) and did everything a full-sized machine of the day could do. Revolutionary for that, but these can be had for much, much less, and rightfully so. Or you can just get this one for $2,450.

TRS-80 Model II Disk System: $3,000. Or just Buy It Now for $4,000.

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Again with the TRS-80 Model II. Haven’t we just been through this? Note to the people of the world: Neither the TRS-80 itself nor any of its versions or accessories are worth these prices. It was manufactured by Radio Shack for crying out loud.

Apple pins (PINS! Like you wear on a lapel!), $339.88

$(KGrHqV,!qUFJOJbGP!EBScgBhk4,w~~60_57The original Apple logo was the rainbow version you see in the pictures above. I like these pins, and I have a few myself, but none that advertise specific models like the IIe or IIc like the ones above. I’ve also never seen the employee-only gold Apple pin. But $340? When I see something like this, I have to wonder how the seller arrived at their price. I mean, this rainbow pin is only $9 with $3 shipping, and it’s coming all the way from France! And this gold Apple pin is $20. Where does $340 come from?

“Great Apple Collection,” $40,000

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Of course, if you really want to go crazy, you can buy all this great Apple stuff for $40,000. Perhaps surprisingly, this one I don’t have a problem with. It’s a lot of great, vintage stuff, there’s a lot of it, and whether or not it’s overpriced is open to debate moreso than any of the others. Just the act of collecting it all is worth something, so I add that into the value of the overall collection.

And it’s not like there aren’t other huge collections of tech-y stuff for way more. Remember, I consider the value of acquiring the items when I assess the value of something, so I’ll even give this $160,000 collection of video games and related hardware the benefit of the doubt. I guess they moved over to Steam and could use the room.

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  • Wow!! I’m wondering if some of these people are adding their ‘personal value’ of the items (it being a token memento or attached to priceless memories), and that could be a possibility for such high prices. I do agree that $1,000 just for shipping is truly absurd.
    The very last auction though is actually quite appealing, especially since it seems to be a very nice collection. I still have my Super Nintendo (which I will NEVER give up) and even the zapper gun for the Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt game. I even have the Power Glove, although I cannot remember what games I would use it for. The last auction would actually get a lot of attention from some of my gamer friends for sure, and I might have to inform them of the auction.

  • $ 1,000 for shipping. It is shipped from the moon or from other planet? Really? And the prices! The $ 160,000 video games collection is absurd. You buy the house too in this price, or what? One got to be crazy to ask so much money from such things that are not in use any more,… just for collection. They are trying; they think that out there are people who don’t have anything else better to do with their money than to buy things that once they had a passion for it. Maybe there are some !?

  • This post made me want to watch Wayne’s World after you said Brad Carvey was the basis if the character of Garth. I will have a new perspective when I watch that movie now with this new information.
    I would really want to know who would pay $2,800 for an Osborne-1 luggable PC and why? I feel like I would be damaging my eyes trying to stare at that screen and do my work successfully. I have a hard enough time when I do the split screen feature on my 13-inch Mac. It is much smaller than my HP computer so I feel like I am squinting in comparison.
    $340 for an Apple pin?! It better be made out of pure gold! I can see some extreme Apple fan spending that kind of money on an Apple pin. To show they’re true customers, of course.

  • I frequent ebay and shop on it very often mainly for magic cards. If you want to see some lunacy look up a “black lotus” from magic the gathering. But anyways there are definitely some interesting things on ebay some rare some not. It all really depends on the advertising you do and who sees your adds on whether or not you sell the product. I’ve seen some of my personal merchandise in person that I can’t sell for $50 go on ebay for $150 each its insane what people will pay for a well worded ad.