My Computer Collection
I have many old computers, which I will eventually catalog here.
I basically go in chronological order of when I acquired each system. I have been nostalgic at times and have bought back some that I originally had but gotten rid of.
Texas Instruments 99/4(a)
My first computer was a 99/4, which I bought off of my TI engineer friend when I was living in Lubbock (probably about 1981 or so), which just happened to be where these computers were manufactured. I later picked up a 99/4a on sale at a local TI store for $59 when they were being cleared out. I used a TV for a monitor, but actually had a disk controller sidecar and two drives, which I played adventure games I wrote and the normal arcade carts. I sold all of this in 1988 to help pay for my Ampro Little Board.
In 2001, I bought a 99/4a with power supply and TV modulator from eBay and basically never unwrapped it. I occasionally look at carts, but haven't done the deed yet. The world seems full of old TI carts for practically nothing (at least in 2010).
In 2009, I got a TI 74s, which is basically a calculator-sized version of the Compact Computer/40, which was a laptop/slabby take-off of the 99/4a. Basically, the TI-74s can run TI-BASIC programs that don't need graphics.
I sold the 74s on eBay as part of a general cleaning of unused systems in 2012.
Timex Sinclair 1000
I bought my first one from a surplus catalog in 1984. It worked except for the cassette interface, so was somewhat worthless, so I quickly threw it away.
I was given my second TS1000 in about 1985 by my mom's foster brother, who was dumping it. It worked great, had the 16k module, and some really good books (I bought more). It was probably my most fun computer. I eventually interfaced an 8K ram chip on the board, bought a floppy drive controller (think I still have it), and wired up a old TI 99 keyboard for it to take the place of the terrible membrane one. Still have the hacked up mess, but haven't messed with it in years.
In about 1988, I also bought a TS1000 knockoff that is actually worth a bit now as it is rare. I may sell it off someday when I need some cash for a project.
Gifts from Dad's Failed Flirtation in Computer Sales
In 1986, my dad, who owned a store that sold copiers, got rid of all the computers that they had tried to sell in a brief flirtation with such things in the past. Wonderful CP/M boxes that I wished I hadn't gotten rid of.
Bondwell Model 2
I think this was the only Z80 CP/M laptop ever made. It worked for a while (used ssdd 3.5 floppies, so it was hard to transfer things to) but eventually died. I still have the keyboard and motherboard in storage and might sell them off as everything CP/Mish is quite valuable these days...
This one was a CP/M computer with the best software package I have ever seen. I played with this until it finally gave up the ghost. I think it was gone before I got married in 1988.
This one was one of the computers that I really wish I had hung onto so that I could sell it later. It used the 5 1/4" disks, so it isn't as sought-after as the 8" ones, but is still very much loved these days on eBay. I don't know what I ever did with this.
Commodore PET 2000
I was serving my mission in Utah (1987) and someone had one of these that they wanted to get rid of. What a find! I had some extra money and actually shipped the thing home (couldn't keep it with me). I had it a few months into my marriage, but I think I just threw it away. Regret having done that as it would now be worth quite a bit.
Ampro Little Board/Z80
I bought this from Ampro for full price in 1988 (about $200). It was my workhorse computer until 1997, which got me through college. I pulled together several disk drives for it (never got the SCSI and a hard drive pulled together), got some CPMUG and SIG/M disks, a ADDS Viewpoint terminal, and a string of modems (300 and 1200 baud, 2400 bps), so this was my first and only BBSing machine. I actually wrote a BBS server in Forth for this (most esoteric BBS probably ever) and ran it for a few nights and a handful of callers.
I sold this off in 2010 to pay for a handheld VHF transceiver.
Golly, it must have been 1994 or so, and I picked up ALL the pieces of complete system, including monitor! I got it at a thrift store in New Orleans in about 1992. I ran the thing a few times and even got some software for it, but never did anything else with it.
This was my first "nostalgia" computer purchase. It was thrown away in the big cleanout of our backyard bomb shelter in 2012.
I bought this (new in box) at a junk store in Roswell (yeah, the alien place) when I was a traveling WIC nutritionist. Unpacked it, set it up, powered it on, and put it in the closet, never to see electricity again. It was thrown away in the big cleanout of our backyard bomb shelter in 2012.
Packard-Bell 486 Computer
My mom gave this to me when she upgraded in 1997 and I finally took the plunge into the PC world. It had Windows 3.1 and DOS (of course) and I used it as my workhorse for about five years along with a Diablo 810 knock-off printer. Played many games downloaded from the Internet on this. Gave it to the kids after that.
I think I finally threw this out in 2010.
As part of two pallets of IBM computers that I picked up at a college auction, there was an absolute find - one of the original microcomputers! I never did anything with this box at all and ultimately just carted it off to the dump, without even thinking what the price woult be on eBay (these typically so for at least US$1000). I am such a fool...
IBM Personal Computers and Descendants
I picked up 2 'pallets' of old IBMs (including a Portable one) for about $5 and used them for various things that rarely mattered, including a few BBSs. I have a few of those left, but I rarely do anything with them.
My present job provides me a regular supply of outdated "Wintel" computers, so I tear them down for parts and build up five or six decent ones for home use. I keep a win98 computer (still terribly useful) and a winXP box (for the kids and their cd-based games). The rest have various renditions of Linux or BSD and work as clients or servers of one sort or another.
Unfortunately, the IBM concept of computing has won out and killed off (nearly) all others.
In 1999, a subcontractor of a prison I was doing work for was considering hiring me and sent me to a 3Com router training. The door prize for coming to the training was a Palm Vx, which technology 3Com owned at that moment. I knew I would win the prize and I did! I ended up not working for those folks, but I played with the Vx for a few months until I sold it to someone at my next job for about $200.
Occasion came up that I needed a good setup to take notes at meetings (around 2004) for a contract I was doing for the local health council. I remembered that keyboards were available for Palms that make them into almost tiny laptops. I got a few Palm IIIs (both x and xe versions) and a few keyboards off of eBay, which setup I still use for church meetings today. One of the best investments ever!!
I bought a cheap GPS Springboard for the Handspring varient of Palm handhelds, but I never got it work (likely the wrong model) and sold all that cruft off for next to nothing in 2010.
I got a great deal on a TRG Pro, which is basically a Palm III with a CF interface - the best Palm ever made! I also sold that off when I was getting money for my new ham radio hobby for $25 more than I originally paid for it!
I needed a new phone in 2010 and I had a chance to pick up an unlocked Treo for about $80. So, my Palm experience continued on until January of 2012 when it started having problems with my data plan. I eventually gave it to Goodwill.
In 2014, I bought a AlphaSmart Dana off of eBay. It is basically a Palm IIIxe and nice keyboard in a case. It is extra cool with two SD card slots (unused), some extra RAM (I think) and can connect via WiFi with the home network and a fileshare I have set up. This is my note-taking setup these days.
I have a Win2k box running that likes older palm stuff - even some programming tools! I have yet to write anything for the palms (I can't think of anything to write), but the setup is ready for an opportunity.
This was my first DOS subnotebook, which actually had a decent keyboard and ran resonably well. It was not very durable and it had notorious power problems. Bought it off of eBay in about 2006. It demanded six (6!) AA batteries (which it eat up like candy) and something in the power circuits seemed to go out and now it sits in pieces in a box at work, waiting for time and, honestly, some interest in doing something with it. I finally threw this out during the Great Purge in preparation for a hoped-for move in the summer of 2012.
I had always wanted a DOS palmtop, which could be powered with 2 AA batteries, which I finally got in 2008. I played with this a bit, but discovered that I really had no use for the thing. I am glad I didn't get the far-more-expensive 100LX or 200LX. I sold it off in 2010 for the ham radio stuff.
I flirted with getting one of those Jornada palmtops that you can load Linux onto, but they cost too much for me and I couldn't run it on standard batteries (Those early palms had spoiled me). I thought this would be a good compromise, but it didn't really work out. I got it to the point that I could do WiFi with it, but it fell to the lack of any real purpose and a poor keyboard. I sold it off for the ham radio stuff.
I picked this up in the fall of 2010 at a Goodwill (along with a disk drive) on a impulse buy for $7.99, which is just amazing! It took much longer to track down a power supply at a decent price (about $25) but I just saw better and wish I had waited. I have really only put the thing together, checked it out, and see that the thing works. Peachy!!
This is also a bit of a throwback to my CP/M days, as it does double-duty. So, it could be a replacement for my various CP/M boxes.
Of course, it is looking like another nostalgia purchase that really has no use. I gave it back to Goodwill when I was leaving New Mexico.
Psion Series 3
I love a palmtop but I love programmability more. As you can see, I played with versions from HP and TI and Lexmark, but they each had their problems. When looking for something unique and well-crafted, it is important to turn to the British, who know about these things. I picked this up on Ebay for $8 and just love it. The 3a may have a larger screen and the 3c and 3mx may have more features and memory, but for raw programmability for dollar spent, nothing beats the original!!
I finally sold this on eBay in 2012 because I couldn't find much real use for it.
I had always dreamed of having one of these. I got it off of eBay for my birthday 2012. It is relatively standard and works off of AA batteries (always a plus for me!). I can program in good old BASIC wherever I want!
Sadly, I pulled it out again and I have some dead keys that soldering new traces won't fix. Basically a brick these days. Perhaps sell it on eBay.