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Unboxing a 1984 Atari Peripheral, 25 Years Later

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  • ...no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RMH101 (636144) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:55AM (#26529431)
    ...it would be a crime not to put it on eBay untouched for some fool to pay through the nose for it.
    Jesus, I mean, come on. This sort of story isn't helping with changing perception of geeks, is it?
  • Re:...no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RaceProUK (1137575) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#26529493)
    I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.
  • 14 pages... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyleow (1098657) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @11:58AM (#26529497)
    14 pages for 14 535 x 383 resolution pictures. Ugh.
  • Annoying format. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martinw89 (1229324) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:01PM (#26529533)

    I happen to RTFAs, but I can't stand the image-and-a-few-sentences-per-page format. Especially when each page has to load a bunch of pictures and javascript. I can stand it when these slideshows open up a new window with only the slideshow's content, but this is too annoying.

  • Collector's Item (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:03PM (#26529599)

    I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.

    We do, but that's what used arcane tech is for. You see the huge deal about this being an unopened box? It's now no longer an unopened box, and he ruined a perfectly good collectible.

  • Collector's value (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:12PM (#26529769)

    When you come across a 1984 Atari Touch Tablet for sale cheap--in the original, unopened box--it would be a crime against computer history not to buy it, open it, install it, and use it, and to document the whole process with photos and commentary.

    Can you hear it? Thousands of collector's voices screaming in mutual anguish.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26529817)

    Or maybe he's attempting to combat the idea that something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before.

    Anyone trying to do that fails by definition. Things have value because people give it value, not through decision by committee.

    Basically, even if you don't think it makes sense that "something should have greatly increased value just because nobody ever bothered to use it before" the fact that other people are actually willing to pay more because nobody ever bothered to use it before is enough reason for you not to use it. You can sell it to those people for the price they are willing to pay and maximize your profits. Any other decision is illogical.

  • by puddles (147314) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:16PM (#26529821)

    They sure don't make 'em like they used to. None of my 3.5" floppies would survive more than a couple of formats, and I'd be lucky to be able to read them on more than, what, 3 or 4 different machines.

  • Re:14 pages... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:22PM (#26529921) Homepage

    All but one comment on the site itself about the article were bitching about that. I, like many of the posters there, decided to forgo pages 2-14.

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:26PM (#26529975) Homepage Journal

    No, it is completely logical if the utility that you gain by enjoying the use of the item exceeds the utility you would have gotten from the money gained by auctioning it to the highest bidder.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:31PM (#26530043)

    No, it is completely logical if the utility that you gain by enjoying the use of the item exceeds the utility you would have gotten from the money gained by auctioning it to the highest bidder.

    Not really. You can sell to the highest bidder, buy a cheaper used product, and still get all the enjoyment of using it AS well as getting a profit. Win-win.

    If you're going to argue that there's a greater utility to opening the box and using the new product, then you are admitting that the unopened box is worth more.

  • Re:14 pages... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:32PM (#26530065)
    No kidding. It's not a weblog, it's an ad farm.
  • by cayle clark (166742) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:32PM (#26530071) Homepage

    ...opening a sealed original package. Cut its value on the collectibles market by 50%, easy.

    The Computer History Museum has one of these [computerhistory.org] but it is not in original packaging. Original packaging, even when opened, greatly adds to the historic, research (and sale) value.

  • by berend botje (1401731) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#26530177)
    Thinking like this (maximizing profit, despite having enough already) is what killed our economy.

    Not really kidding either.

    Just enjoy the things you have and don't be so obsessed with amassing ever more.
  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @12:52PM (#26530349)

    Hey, wait, are we talking about tulips [wikipedia.org]?

    Not exactly. It's not that there's a bubble that inflates the price of the unopened peripheral due to speculation. It's that the unopened box is always demonstrably worth more than the opened box. It's a limited supply thing. There are less unopened tablets then there are open ones. By opening up you are literally removing value.

    You know, oddly enough, making teh bux isn't the most important thing in life. If I get my hands on a new-in-box peripheral for one of my older computers, screw resale. I'm opening the box, hooking it up, and using it. That's the real value.

    Do you not see the flaw in your reasoning, though? If the real value to you is in the use of the tablet, then you wouldn't mind buying an used one that does the same thing. However, since other people value the mint condition device and are willing to pay you more for it then you are denying others of what they want and denying yourself the different in price between the mint condition product and the used product you want to hook up to your computer. If you sell it, both you and the buyer get more out of it.

    Frankly, the entire "minty-mint" collection mania is pathological. The perceived sale value boils down to "how much can I fleece a clueless schlub for?". And that's illogical.

    That's not true. It's not always a clueless schlub, sometimes you're selling it to the guy who doesn't want to resell it AND doesn't want to open it. The final collector. I collect some stuff that I never intend to resell, not for profit but because I want it. It has value to me, and who are you to tell me I shouldn't value it if I'm willing to pay for it?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:13PM (#26530687) Homepage

    Show me a blog or article walking through a hack adapting the device for use under modern PC hardware and I'll look more closely. This is just "retro computing" and while it is a little interesting, it isn't THAT interesting. We get it. In the old days, we thought it was awesome and now it looks worse than pathetic.

    Wire up a USB connector and write a driver to support it under Mac OSX, Linux and Windows.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @01:56PM (#26531483) Journal

    This is clearly a clash of value systems. And, although my value are mostly utilitarian, that's not consistently so. My GP comment has a clue to the inconsistency: "older systems". Yup, I collect old personal computers and software. That's not rational from a pragmatic POV. But, OTOH, I actually use them. I wouldn't pay collector NIB NOS prices for, say, an Amiga 1000. (Pretend such a thing could legitimately be found. Besides, I still have mine from 1986.)

    Again, if you or another collector gets a warm fuzzy feeling looking at your sealed 1977 Kenner Luke Skywalker figure, great. Me, I'd wanna play with the thing.

    So, in the realm of serendipitous discoveries of neat old tech toys: If I find a nifty piece of retrotech that I can play with, at a price I consider reasonable solely on the "play" value, I'm buying. And using. If that destroys it from your perspective, so be it. I'm getting what I value out of it. If you want it, for whatever your reasons, you'd better find it first.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:08PM (#26531679)

    That's not true. It's not always a clueless schlub, sometimes you're selling it to the guy who doesn't want to resell it AND doesn't want to open it. The final collector.

    Which is pathological. The accumulation of things you're never going to use or touch, is by definition pointless.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:13PM (#26531785) Journal

    None, of course, unless we're going to pretend there's some archaeology-grade research activity going on in computer museum collections. And even that analogy is faulty; I don't believe that Egyptologists even fantasize about finding 9th Dynasty new-old stock.

    Naah, this is just collector angst. Apparently, they think a sealed box gathering dust has greater utility than, say, the actual utility of the artifact in question.

  • Profit? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slapout (93640) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:24PM (#26532101)

    1. Buy old computer peripheral SIB (Still in box)
    2. Document opening and usage
    3. Place on website w/ ads and promote
    4. Get Slashdotted so that works still appear but pictures (and ads!) don't
    5.
    6. Profit

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @02:36PM (#26532421)

    I always thought geeks loved to play with arcane tech, making this an ideal story.

    Some do. Some don't. I fall into the don't category. I guess I'm not very sentimental. I love learning about history of it and admire how clever some of the solutions were in the face of the limitations of the day. There are some wonderful lessons to be learned. But I'm also old enough to have used some pretty arcane tech (by IT standards anyway) and I remember it's limitations well. There are very good reasons we don't use it anymore.

    Personally it's not the tech but the information that I worry about. Old formats that we have lost the ability to read. The hardware exists to communicate and facilitate information. We can create new hardware but we can't always create new information.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:07PM (#26533273) Journal

    Is this kind of thing really in demand by anyone though? I have a NIB Atari 5200 Trakball from 1983 [atarimagazines.com]. That's earlier than the peripheral in this article. Am I sitting on a gem that deserves to be preserved for future generations? What is the privilege of taking care of this artifact worth? Anyone out there want to buy it and preserve it? Or should I open it up and get on the front page of ./?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:10PM (#26533367) Journal

    Because it's a status symbol.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @06:08PM (#26537423)

    Thinking like this (maximizing profit, despite having enough already) is what killed our economy.

    Yes, but it also birthed it.

  • by Faylone (880739) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @06:47PM (#26537991)
    When I eat an apple, I may destroy the apple, but it's totally worthless to me just staring at it.
  • by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @08:39PM (#26539535)

    If you're going to argue that there's a greater utility to opening the box and using the new product, then you are admitting that the unopened box is worth more.

    Well, if you read the article, the author clearly gained enjoyment from opening the box:

    "It's incredibly satisfying to open up product packaging sealed some 25 years before. Like bubbles of atmospheric gas encased in Cretaceous amber, there's authentic 1984 Atari factory air trapped inside every box. They say that if you twist your nose just right during a full moon, you can even smell a hint of Nolan Bushnell's Old Spice."

    It's also possible that the author made more money by writing and publishing his experience, than would have been gained by reselling.

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