eBay is the devil.

One fateful day, in July of 2001, my girlfriend was out of the country, and I was bored as all hell. So I decided to go to my buddy Roman's place. Buddy Roman owns a Commodore 64 which he never uses.

First mistake.

Buddy Roman has this game for said C64, Whirlybird, which we obsessed over during our youth. It's because of this game that there is a 5.25" disk in my collection labelled "Fighter Plane Attack Club", which I'm sure has at least a couple of really bad QBASIC games on it. I believe I recall using digitized speech for that project, if you redefine "speech" to mean "making laser noises into my microphone."

Anyway, this game, Whirlybird, is IMPOSSIBLE to find on C64 emulation sites. No one's bothered to archive it, because, to be frank, it really wasn't that great of a game, and it came out under some bargain label that no one's ever heard of. So I've thus far been totally unable to play this game on my PC, except for a remake which I coded up one night because I was bored. Casually, I ask Roman why he's never looked into what hardware it might take to transfer disk images to and from his C64, so I could grab that game for my own use, and he could grab games from the Internet and play them on real hardware.

Second mistake.

We look around online, and find specifications for this cable, the X1541. "Oh, cool!" says Roman. "I can hack together a cable!" Then we look at the specs, and see that it takes more than just crossing some wires to match up the different pinouts; there's diodes and other weird shit that makes it pretty clear that we're in way over our heads.

"Hmm. Well, let's check eBay."

Three strikes. I'm out.

[eBay screenshot]
Here's a picture of me spending far too much money on old computers. But it was all worth it, 'cause hey, now I own an AMIGA.
On eBay, we find this guy selling an X1541 cable, yes. But he's also selling a C64. And a C128. And a Commodore modem. And a Commodore mouse. And a Commodore monitor. And just this massive fucking collection of Commodore crap that you just KNOW it'll cost hundreds of dollars to pick up seperately. All that in one holy fucking GRAIL of an auction.

No one had bid on this auction yet. And he'd elected to prominently place a "Buy it now!" button on the auction. Only $150USD, and this could all be mine.

I had entered almost a dreamlike state, where all judgement had disappeared and been replaced by an overwhelming need to click that button. I *NEEDED* those Commodores. And a MODEM! GOOD GRAVY, A MODEM! 1200 bauds of FURY!!

Roman would only egg me on, I knew. I needed to talk to someone who would absolutely, 100% guaranteed tell me to stop if it wasn't a good idea. I settled on someone who was absolutely, 100% guaranteed to tell me to go ahead and buy it if I wanted to.

"Click me," said the "Buy it now!" button.

"I need to talk to Angela," said I.

There wasn't enough time to drive back to my house and use my US calling plan to call Angela, who was currently in Florida, so Roman and I excitedly ran out to the nearest 7-11, where we purchased a phone card. We came back, Roman handed me the phone, and I began to dial when I nonchalantly looked at the clock. Angela's parents have a _very_ strict rule about not calling after 10:00.

10:00pm. On the nose.

"Great!" I exclaimed, and finished dialing.

After I apologized to Angela's mother, she went and roused Angela from bed.

My brain said to me, "You, um, do realize that you're waking your girlfriend up and annoying her parents... so you can tell her that you're buying a COMMODORE 64. Right?"

There are now 16 working computers in our house, as well as 7 video game consoles (including a pong game that hooks up to your TV), and she's still with me. I'm a lucky man.

After the phone call, during which Roman was cackling gleefully in the background, and I was in the rather undescribable excited state of mind that comes from really wanting to spend hundreds of dollars on eBay, we went upstairs, where the auction was still waiting for us. My hand shaking, I reached for the mouse.

"Click me," said the "Buy it now!" button.

"Okay," said I.

I clenched my teeth and squeezed my eyes shut. This was it. No going back.


I breathed a sigh of relief as I slumped back into my chair. I dimly recall Roman congratulating me, saying "Dude, you now OWN a Commodore 64," but all I remember is this tremendous feeling of release, all of the built-up excitement finally coming to a climax with me finally buying that old C64.

It was almost sexual.

Thus began my disasterously expensive classic computer collection. Since then, I've bought:

[Coleco ADAM]
The ADAM, sitting happily in my closet.

A Coleco ADAM.

The story behind this one is kind of interesting. I went to a friend's house. He had a Coleco ADAM. I thought it was really cool. So I bought one on eBay. It was $100 with shipping. Once I got it, I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do with it but play Donkey Kong. Sits dormant my closet until I can figure out how the hell to code it.

[Half of my computer desk of DOOM]
The Amiga is the keyboard-lookin' thing on the right-hand side. Sharing desk space with it are my Apple IIgs and my Netpliance I-Opener. The monitor, which is used by near every computer in that room, is on the other half of the desk.

An Amiga 500.

Not only does my girlfriend not leave me for spending obscene amounts of money on old computers, she encourages it. She had vague memories of a computer she had during her childhood, and after some research, came to the conclusion that it was an Amiga. The shipping costs on this one were ridiculous, but it was so worth it -- the Amiga rocks ass.

An Atari ST.

After the Amiga, I realized that I still had tuition to pay next term, and so I decided I wouldn't buy any more computers off eBay. So naturally, that same week I get an email from my brother saying that he knows a guy trying to get rid of an old Atari ST. $60? Done! Not that I could really afford it, but it's great to not pay shipping.

[The other half of my computer desk]
Seen here is my Vic-20, the PC which I use as a hard drive for my Vic-20, and that black blob sitting beside the PC is my Dreamcast. And yes, that is a plastic Buddy Christ.

A Vic 20.

No more buying old computers. No more buying old computers. No more... shit. One day, I walked into Value Village and saw this Vic 20, just lying there. I needed to have it. It was $2. I couldn't, however, find a power supply, or RF adapter, so I couldn't turn it on, much less see anything. Up into my closet it went, to sit dormant for several months until I found ANOTHER Vic 20 in Value Village, for $2, this one a newer model whose power adapter happens to be the same kind as the Commodore 64. Powered Vic 20 in hand, I dug up the video pinouts, borrowed my brothers soldering iron, and soldered together my first cable ever. It didn't work at all, so I tried again, and it worked passably the second time. Total cost: $7. (And I found that Super Cobra clone I used to play, but could never find online, on the same day -- Bomber.prg!)

[My Tandy 1000, on the floor]
The Tandy 1000 sits on the floor, because I don't have any space to put it on a desk, and unplugged, because I don't have any free outlets in the room.

A Tandy 1000.

Another Value Village purchase, I bought this mostly because it has a nifty sound chip that old Sierra adventure games took heavy advantage of. And since there's a healthy developer community for AGI, who are only lacking in decent music-creation tools, I decided I'd write a music tracker that could run on the original sound hardware. Progress: Tool-building stage.

A Tandy CoCo3.

Yet another Value Village purchase. I don't have any sort of storage media for it, but it boots up and I can type BASIC commands on it and everything! Mostly purchased because it's the closest thing I've ever been in contact with to a Trash-80.

This has become the article that just won't die, as I wrote most of it almost a year ago, but then thought to myself, "You know, I should get some pictures of my old computers to go along with it. I'll just wait a little longer before I post it." Of course, then I get more computers, I have to add them, and get pictures of them, and before you know it I've forgotten where I put the damn article because I *swore* I wrote most of it on my laptop, back when it still had MacOS 9 on it.

Therefore, I would show you some pictures of my computers, but instead I think I will upload them later.

Update: I added pictures. They are very pretty.

Related links:
My computer room isn't near as impressive as any of these, but someday it might be.
The FAQ, which, once I can afford it and can feel reasonably confident that I'll never have to live in an apartment, will probably serve as a handy reference for my next obsession.
Nostalgia Part I: Zany Fucking Golf.
Nostalgia Part II: The Alien Fucking Zit.