One of the things I've noticed about eBay recently is the increasing use of the 'rare' moniker. That word has been attached to everything from hardware to software to 1980's Radio Shack catalogs. Quite honestly it's driving me bonkers. The question that's eating at me is this: when dealing with vintage/retro computer equipment, what qualifies as rare?
My line of thinking believes the white CoCo1 comes pretty close to being the rarest creature living in the CoCo family.However, I'm hesitant to even consider it a 'rare' item, especially compared to an IMSAI or an Atari Falcon, computers that would give even Indiana Jones a tough time finding. When those two pop up on eBay, they command a price one would think should accompany truly rare vintage/retro computing equipment.
I'll fully agree that certain items qualify as rare. One needs only look at the Exatron Stringy Floppy Controller and the PBJ Expansion Interface auctions to see two examples of rare CoCo artifacts. I've not seen these two items on eBay since I started tracking CoCo stuff in 2006. Add those to a mislabeled White CoCo with a Keytronic KB-500 keyboard - the white is rare enough, but, that keyboard has not shown up on eBay since I've been looking either.
Looking at the Vintage Computers category on
eBay, the Atari, Commodore, and PC categories usually out-number the
TRS-80 categories by a 3 to 1 margin. (I am boycotting everything,
including discussion, of the fruity computer company, so they are not
included) This easily makes the TRS-80 stuff 'more rare' than most
others. But, are they really rare to those looking for them? That's am
impossible question to answer, unfortunately, since I cannot read the
minds of the people viewing the auctions.
When compared to the the Commodore auctions, the TRS-80 items tend to sell for more, especially the CoCo3, Model I and III. The TRS-80 line also fares well when compared to a few of the Atari auctions, the exceptions being the Atari Falcon, MEGA ST and TT. The Atari 400 seems to be the red-headed step-child of the Atari family, rarely commanding a decent price unless it's accompanied by numerous accessories and software. The 800 line sells well, but, prices seem to be a moving target with no rational behind them.
What about software? Can that be considered a rare item. My opinion is this: the rarity of software is completely dependent upon completeness of the package, and demand. Remember, most of the software for vintage/retro computers is now freely available SOMEWHERE on the internet, as is most of the documentation. So unless people are looking for a specific package for a museum, club collection, or other reason, there's little reason to be looking for software. For software to be considered rare, IMO, it should include the original packaging, manuals, and media, all in good and working condition. The media or manuals by themselves do not make the item rare - yes they can complete a collection, but, for the media you can do that yourself.
What got me started on this subject is all of the auctions the have the 'rare' moniker listed boldly in the auction titles or description recently. While not in the title, this auction for the CoCo Winnie the Pooh game is an example, and it's price is ridiculous. Yes, it's original, and sealed, and it'd be a cold day in Hades before I paid that price. I already have a copy I got from the CoCo Lounge before Glenn closed it down (also got the Mikey's Space Adventure and Flight Sim II in complete packaging). The seal was broken, but, it is a complete package and I paid less than $20 for each package. There's also a TDP-100 listed for $300 right now, using it's rarity status. While in a different case, it IS a CoCo.