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Thread: Top 6 Collectible/Valuable/Grail Computers

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Diatribal Deity's Avatar
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    Default Top 6 Collectible/Valuable/Grail Computers

    Various sources would suggest the following:

    (1) Apple 1 - Designed firsthand by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Of the 200 originally made, less than 50 are known to exist.

    Estimated value (10k-20k)

    (2) Apple Lisa - The predecessor to the Macintosh, Apple's first commercial computer.

    Estimated value (2k-10k)

    (3) DEC PDP-8 - Defined the mini-computer class for businesses. Lasted through the 70's with eight iterations. Less than 10 known to exist. 1965 cost = $18,000

    Estimated value (10k-20k)

    (4) MITS Altairs 8800 - a DIY kit based on Intels third-generation microprocessor, the 8080.
    It signaled to the general public that it was possible for them to own their own computer, and is widely credited with starting the PC revolution. Rumored to have motivated Bill Gates to start Microsoft.

    Estimated value (1.5k-3k)

    (5) IMSAI 8080 - Immortalized in the movie "War Games". Was first released in 1975, and over the next 11 years IMSAI produced between 17,000 and 20,000 units.

    Estimated value (1.5k+)

    (6) Xerox Alto - first GUI (considered by some to be the first pc). Was mainly a research computer. Manufacturing run just over 2000 units. Original cost $32,000.

    Estimated value (?)


    Anyone own any of these?
    Last edited by Diatribal Deity; 11-01-2009 at 12:52 AM.

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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    It seems rather unfair to include any minis with this list, since that would seem to open up some other pretty crazy obscurities. The rule of thumb is likely the bigger it was, the more likely all units have been scrapped. PDP-8 seems a good choice out of this class however.

    I was about to suggest the Alto, but I see it rounding out the list there. Out of the whole list, that is the one computer I would definitely like to own.

    Overall, my extremely limited (no hands-on knowledge, all just lots of online reading) suggests this is an excellent list.

    I will suggest Evans & Sutherland 3D graphics workstations, however. I'm told (by NeoGeoMan IIRC) that there were actually a good number of ultra high-res displays back in the day (high res even by today's standards: E&S had some 4096 x 4096 resolution monitors back in the day) in use in various places.

    The E&S is always one of my first choices because it was picked by Michael Waite for inclusion in his Computer Graphics Primer, a great little resource (if limited and also not 100% correct - he does misspell Wozniak's name in one place, after all).

    E&S systems were used for flight simulators and advanced molecular modeling back in the 70s-80s, and they're still around and working in the same segment. They still seem to be one of the unheralded giants of computer graphics.

    There is also - the name eludes me at the moment - some early 68000 systems without monitors that were used as training devices. They have a register paper-type printer and an extended keyboard format. It sticks out in my mind because the Wikipedia article says these have been in use for years at some haunted house running certain animatronics year in and out

    It's also probably not anywhere in the same class as those in your list, but the name GRiD comes to mind.
    Last edited by Ed Oscuro; 11-01-2009 at 01:41 AM.

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    ServBot (Level 11) tom's Avatar
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    I'd include the IBM 5100/5110 (1975 portable),
    Plato System V (1960 - 1980s, online community, online gaming)
    and the Commodore MOS KIM-1 (1975, miniature)

    Perhaps also the TVT 1?
    Last edited by tom; 11-01-2009 at 06:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diatribal Deity View Post
    (1) Apple 1 - Designed firsthand by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. Of the 200 originally made, less than 50 are known to exist.
    Aside from rarity and historical significance.... is there really much practical use for an Apple 1 that can't be done with an Apple II? Is there even any significant amount of software out there, or is it compatible with the Apple II?

    (3) DEC PDP-8 - Defined the mini-computer class for businesses.
    (6) Xerox Alto - first GUI (considered by some to be the first pc). Was mainly a research computer.
    Were either of these really available to the public? I've always thought it would be neat to have a PDP or an Alto, but it's not exactly something you can just stumble across at the thrift store.

    (4) MITS Altairs 8800
    (5) IMSAI 8080
    Are these more or less equivalent, as far as running software on them? My understanding has always been along the lines that the "computer" is basically just an S-100 bus, and the processor itself was a card. So, aside from the selection of cards provided by each company, what are the major operating differences?

    My Holy Grail of computers has always been the C-65... though I'm not sure if it's fair to include prototype hardware on this kind of a list.

    --Zero

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    we've got a Lisa somewhere around here, or at least we did.

    Someone I know has/had an IMSAI.

    At the risk of sounding like a tool, this list could be named Top 6 useless computers.

    I'd put the EXIDY Sorcerer on the list. Those are cool

    The C65 is cool but yeah prototypes don't count

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arkhan View Post
    At the risk of sounding like a tool, this list could be named Top 6 useless computers.
    Exactly. Whatever their historical significance, the lot of 'em are just whacking big paperweights now.

    The SGI O2 looks kind of cool (think Irwin from User Friendly), and one of the Macintosh clones might be a novelty. And there's the VAX, of course. (I sold a tape drive I ripped out of an old VAX rack for $80 on eBay a few years ago. There's probably a lot of them still in operation.)
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    The Palo Alto had the first 3D multiplayer game - call it useless at your own peril. The fact that they were at colleges in the area of the PARC makes it seem likely that a few managed to find their way into the hands of the general public through thrifts. Unfortunately most were probably just chucked outright

    The E&S flight simulators also would be great fun.

    Actually, that reminds me that there are some crazy VSA-100 (3Dfx Voodoo) massive SLI systems used in much the same way. I forget the actual names but these gigantic racks of Voodoo chips still command lots of money and can be used to improve performance on many old 3D games to incredible levels. They were mainly used for special non-consumer gaming graphics applications, though, like (once again) flight simulators, I'd bet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tom View Post
    I'd include the IBM 5100/5110 (1975 portable)
    Ahh, the luggable. My neighbors have / had a 5150.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    The Palo Alto had the first 3D multiplayer game - call it useless at your own peril.
    Fat lot of good a multiplayer game does you if there's no one else to play with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    Actually, that reminds me that there are some crazy VSA-100 (3Dfx Voodoo) massive SLI systems used in much the same way. I forget the actual names but these gigantic racks of Voodoo chips still command lots of money and can be used to improve performance on many old 3D games to incredible levels.
    I forget what the Voodoo2 quadruple-SLI doodad was called, but it was at least vaguely accessible to consumers, even if the requirement of four free PCI slots was a little steep.
    Last edited by J'orfeaux; 11-01-2009 at 03:38 PM.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorpho View Post
    I forget what the Voodoo2 quadruple-SLI doodad was called, but it was at least vaguely accessible to consumers, even if the requirement of four free PCI slots was a little steep.
    Yes, these are four-board systems, but no, they weren't really available to consumers because you needed not only four free PCI slots, but a special power supply and access to over 1600 KW power, and $15,000 dollars up front.

    Meet the 3Dfx-era Quantum3D products.

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    @ Ze_ro

    APPLE I: Pure historical significance. It was designed and built in printed circuit-board form and Jobs insisted it could be sold that way. It debuted in April 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto. It was based on the MOStek 6502 chip, different than most other "kit" computers that were built from the Intel 8080. Cost was $666.66. Included Apple Basic. Also available at launch was dis-assembler and many games.

    APPLE LISA: *With the added Ram it served as an important platform for game programming.
    The Lisa had a Motorola 68000 Processor running at 5 MHz, 1 MB of RAM two 5.25" 871 kB floppy drives, an external 5 MB hard drive, and a built in 12" 720 x 360 monochrome monitor. Cost was $9,995. When the Macintosh came out in 1984 for alot less money, Apple released the Lisa 2 at the same time as the Mac. The Lisa 2 cost half as much as the original, replaced the two 5.25" drives with a single 400 kB 3.5" drive, and offered configurations with up to 2 MB of RAM, and a 10 MB hard drive. In January 1985, the Lisa 2/10 was renamed the Macintosh XL, and outfitted with MacWorks, an emulator that allowed the Lisa to run the Mac OS. The XL was discontinued later that year.


    The PDP-8 was a more personal machine than the larger more expensive machines, it was popular for playing with and various games were either written for it or ported to it from even earlier machines. But no, the PDP-8 and Xerox Alto were not commercially available.

    PDP-8 Games:
    - Adventure
    - Hunt the Wampum
    - Space War (StarTrek)
    - Lunar Lander
    - Towers of Hanoi
    - Tic-Tac-Toe
    - Hangman
    - Golf
    - Football
    - Chess

    The IMSAI 8080 was a "clone" of the MITS Altairs 8800. Ultimately it was more successful due to the inability of MITS to keep up with demand. Plus its exposure in Wargames did not hurt either.
    Last edited by Diatribal Deity; 11-01-2009 at 05:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diatribal Deity View Post
    APPLE LISA: *With the added Ram it served as an important platform for game programming.
    What is your basis for this assertion?

    - Space War (StarTrek)
    I think you will find that Space War and Star Trek were two very different games.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorpho View Post
    What is your basis for this assertion?

    I think you will find that Space War and Star Trek were two very different games.
    Space War was Star Trek in my book, it had an Enterprise and Klingons and the whole bit.

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    drowning in medals Ed Oscuro's Avatar
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    Weren't there a number of games called Star Trek? There's the command sim, which is the one I think of, and which I think Jorpho as well; then there's a renamed Spacewar!

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    I can't say I've ever heard of the renamed Spacewar. There's nothing about it in the Wikipedia Spacewar article, certainly.

    There's Empire, which later became Xtrek/Netrek, though.
    "There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." --Bertrand Russel (attributed)

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    Bah, Wikipedia. The more I think about it, the more certain I feel that I've heard of Spacewar! renamed Star Trek. Obviously with the Enterprise as the player ship, and perhaps more than one enemy ship onscreen at a time. Actually, though, it's possible it was the Romulan Bird of Prey as the opponent.

    (I'd rather play Maze War by myself than these, I think... )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post
    Bah, Wikipedia. The more I think about it, the more certain I feel that I've heard of Spacewar! renamed Star Trek. Obviously with the Enterprise as the player ship, and perhaps more than one enemy ship onscreen at a time. Actually, though, it's possible it was the Romulan Bird of Prey as the opponent.

    (I'd rather play Maze War by myself than these, I think... )
    In the late 60's the first "Star Trek" game appeared. It was just another variation of the much imitated "Space War". The history of "Space War" is pretty fascinating as it was very influential.

    Here is a link to one random resource that discusses it a bit (or at least briefly mentions it)...

    http://www.hyw.com/Books/WargamesHandbook/6-3-gene.htm

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