In the first purchase of his collection, Sellam Ismail loaded the trunk of his car with old computers he stumbled upon at a flea market for $5 apiece. Soon he had filled his three-car garage with what others would consider obsolete junk.
Years later, his collection of early computers, printers, and related parts is piled high across shelves and in chaotic heaps in a 4,500-square-foot warehouse near Silicon Valley. And it is worth real money.
Even as the power and speed of today’s computers make their forerunners look ever punier, a growing band of collectors are gathering retro computers, considering them important relics and even good investments.
The pride of his collection is an Apple Lisa, one of the first computers (introduced in 1983) with a now standard graphical interface. Such items sell for more than $10,000.
As in other hobbies, tech enthusiasts scour Internet sites and eBay for offerings, attend swap meets (where the old machines are sometimes demonstrated) and rely on word of mouth to obtain rare finds. Some items cost just a few dollars; jewels go for thousands of dollars.
Photo by REUTERS/Kimberly White.