When it comes to technology, life spans are short. These days, if you get two years out of a device, that’s a lot, especially when you consider that many of us replace our cell phones every 18 months with the latest and greatest model.
Eventually we all become stuck with a pile of old electronics. Many of them get recycled but there are quite a few that get boxed up and stored in the attic or the basement for what is likely an eternity until they are thrown out.
If you’ve got boxes of old electronics stored somewhere in your home, you may want to take them out now. Why? Because some older computers, gaming consoles, and handheld devices have been fetching quite a lot of money on eBay and through other auctions as of late. While many can bring in $50 or $100, some extremely rare or significant electronics can command thousands of dollars.
Check those old boxes because here are ten old electronic devices that may be worth a lot of money.
1. Apple I
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made only 200 of their first Apple computers back in 1976, and most were sold to computer hobbyists around the San Francisco Bay area for the asking price of $666.66.
The model was replaced with a much slicker Apple II within two years, and the original Apples were suddenly obsolete. We don’t know what happened to many of them, but the ones that are still in existence command a high price, especially if they’re still operational. How much? In October 2014, Henry Ford paid over $900,000 for an Apple I, and the next month, one was sold at a Christie’s auction for $365,000.
2. Original 128k Macintosh
In 1984, Apple released their original Macintosh to great fanfare. For the exorbitant price of $2,495 (over $5,000 in today’s money), the cute all-in-one computer could be yours. Today, you can procure one for less than that, but you’ll still shell out around $1,000 for one in decent working condition — or more. In 2014, one was sold on eBay for $1,598. And here’s a fun bonus fact: all early Macs have the signatures of the Apple team embossed on the inside of the case.
3. iPod Classic
It was the device that really ushered in the digital music revolution, but within ten or so years, the original iPod was discontinued in favor of the touchscreen models based on the iPhone.
However, the demand for this classic device is still high, and original iPods have been commanding impressive prices on eBay. The sixth generation devices with the big 160GB hard drives are going for $300 or $400, which is about what they cost when they were brand new.
4. Atari VCS
Before it was called the Atari 2600, it was called the Atari VCS, or video computer system. If you got one of these early generation machines from 1980-1982 and still own it, you’re in luck: they’re going for around $100 on eBay.
And if you’ve got some games to go with it, you’ll pull in even more depending on which titles you can offer. Air Raid is the most expensive, with one selling for over $30,000 a few years ago, while ET is the most interesting in that it is widely considered one of the worst games for the console.
A few years ago, a massive collection of ET games was dug out of a landfill in New Mexico, so owning one is like owning a fun bit of video game history.
5. APF Imagination Machine
This late 1970s home computer and video game console may not have been as popular as, say, the Atari or the Commodore 64, but it was appealing at the time because of its innovative features and expandability.
They don’t come up for sale on eBay all that often, but when they do, they go for a surprisingly high price. Expect to pay at least several hundred dollars or more In 2013, one was sold on the auction site for $999 — that’s almost $300 more than its original 1979 asking price.
6. Sony TPS-L2 Walkman
If you were alive in the 1980s, the Sony Walkman was probably a big part of your life. The first model of this groundbreaking technology was the TPS-L2, and it allowed people to play their own personal soundtrack anywhere and anytime; its portability meant that you never had to go anywhere without your favorite tunes.
These days, of course, we carry thousands of songs in our pockets, but back then, we had to deal with cassettes. If you’re hoping to go for a more retro sound, working Sony TPS-L2 Walkman models can be found on eBay, but they cost quite a bit. Average asking price is around $350, with some sellers wanting at least $700 for devices in pristine condition.
7. Hewlett Packard HP-01 Watch
This original calculator watch was expensive when it was first released in 1977, with asking prices ranging from $450 to $850, depending on whether you went with the steel or gold versions. It was the first time a calculator could go on the wrist, and it was also one of the first devices to come with its own stylus, since the buttons were so tiny.
These days, the caliber of this technology is equivalent to something that might come as a prize in a cereal box, but that hasn’t stopped collectors from paying exorbitant amounts for an original HP-01. Average asking price on eBay is between $1000 and $4000, and one in mint condition was up for sale in 2014 for $14,000.
8. Texas Instruments Speak & Spell
Back in the early 1980s, it taught us how to spell tricky words like “rhythm” and “bureau.” Now it’s a relic of a simpler time, a fun reminder of Generation X childhood, and also a popular collector's item.
The Texas Instruments Speak & Spell cost $50 in 1978, which is almost $200 in today’s dollars. These days, a working Speak & Spell can be found on eBay for anywhere from $30 to well over $100 if it’s in really good shape. There’s even a market for Speak & Spell parts, and broken models can even bring in $10 or $15.
9. Original Mario Kart 64 Cartridge
There’s definitely a market for used video games, but some titles command higher prices than others. One of the more valuable used titles is Mario Kart, but it has to be the original cartridge for the Nintendo 64. Whether it’s the fun yet challenging game play or the nostalgia that many gamers feel when they think about this late ‘90s game, a cartridge in good shape can sell for as much as $75. And, if it’s brand new and still sealed in the original box, you might get as much as $300.
10. Bakelite Phones
You might need to go to grandma’s house to unearth one of these. The Ericsson DBH 1001 rotary telephone of the mid-20th Century, usually just called a Bakelite phone after the ubiquitous polymer material of its body, could be found in just about every home. In fact, when you ask most older folks to think of a phone, a picture of this device is probably what pops into their heads.
These days, fans of retro chic and collectors of vintage electronics will pay good money for a Bakelite phone. Well-used models go for $30 or more on eBay, while phones in really good shape command $125 or more.
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Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker