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1659RE: [midatlanticretro] Saga of the Commodores in Summit, NJ

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  • Evan
    Nov 4 11:43 AM
      Three cheers for John!  Great job!
      -----Original Message-----
      From: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com [mailto:midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of john_apw
      Sent: Thursday, November 03, 2005 11:37 PM
      To: midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [midatlanticretro] Saga of the Commodores in Summit, NJ


      This will be a rather detailed report of my activities in the matter
      of "Commodore Computers in Summit, NJ". ("Detailed" = long winded,
      but hopefully informative...)

      I saw the notice in the digest yesterday morning (Wednesday, 02 NOV
      2005) and I sent an email to Lou, the contact person.
      I received a phone call at about 11:30am. He told me that he had a
      number of old computers that his son was going to put up on eBay,
      but they were uncomfortable with shipping monitors, etc. He wanted
      his son to make some money, and when they checked the winning eBay
      bids for similar systems, they thought they might make $300 or $400,
      but it would involve a lot of work and time, trips to the Post
      Office, etc. To see if they could avoid the hassle, he contacted the
      winner and loser of an eBay auction to see if they would be
      interested. Instead, he was referred to the list. Thus the first

      I was preparing to arrange to see the equipment over the weekend
      when he expressed the urgency: the stuff was in a house being
      cleaned out and anything his son didn't take to sell that was still
      there on Friday (tomorrow) would go into the dumpster. I asked if I
      could come right over, and he said yes. An hour later I was there
      and found out what was going on.

      Seems that Lou is one of three guys who bought the house to re-
      develop, following the death at around age 80 of the sole owner, a
      fellow named David Z. Lou and his partners are preparing to gut and
      renovate the place, but the deceased had no relatives, and all his
      stuff was there, and it all has to be removed. Lou had someone buy
      furniture, etc. and when I explained the MARCH museum, he liked the
      idea that the stuff would go where it would be appreciated. So he
      gave me an exclusive on whatever I thought would be useful. He
      showed me around the place and I took mental notes. Then he
      mentioned that he had already removed some computers to his house,
      but would bring them back for me. Then he mentioned again that he
      wanted his son to get some money out of this. I told him we had no
      budget, but that I would see what I could do personally. He said he
      wanted $200, and I told him that I wasn't sure there was enough
      equipment to warrant that. But he hinted that I might change my mind
      when he brought back the other computers in the morning (Thursday).

      So, we agreed to gather all the computer stuff in the morning, and
      meanwhile he let me rummage around and take stuff I wanted. (Evan,
      this was when I was calling you to discuss truck rental, etc.
      Unfortunately, I can't take a Wurlitzer organ that Davi Z. built
      from kits...It's got a curved wood cabinet, two keyboards and stops,
      foot pedals and a cushioned bench; just too big for me to take it or
      store it...)

      Well, it seems that David was some sort of engineer and a total
      recluse. His little old house, with many tiny rooms, and little
      twisty passages, all alike, was packed wall-to-wall with radios,
      electronic components, audio equipment, computers, etc. He had one
      room with several systems on desks, another room set up like a
      repair shop, another with ham radio, and another with several
      computers, tons of software, and more components (looked just like
      the *old* Radio Shack store layouts!). This guy was a packrat of the
      most intense degree! He had a cache of empty boxes that he used for
      organizing all the equipment repair projects - from radios,
      telephone, to sewing machines, can openers, and food mixers! There
      must have been just dozens of empty boxes alone - not to mention all
      the shelves with boxes that had stuff in them...

      Mostly everything was carefully labeled, sometimes including notes
      about operational characteristics ("a few pixels bad", "motor noise
      in output audio", "this cable for xyz unit" etc.).

      So, on the theory that our local radio museum might be interested in
      some of the radio equipment, I started packing the car with
      shortwave radios, transistor radios, etc. Then I started packing
      test meters. Then I went for some of the spare parts. I also packed
      a typewriter and an old 1950's era HiFi. (Also a calculator or
      two...) In the long run, I decided that other stuff had more
      potential value than the small electronic components (resistors,
      diodes), so I left them behind.

      With the wagon full, I went home and planned for today. Lou had
      building inspectors coming in the morning so I wouldn't be able to
      start packing until around 10am. We agreed to touch base at 9am. I
      really had no place to unload into, so I decided I'd use the morning
      to bring the first load to the museum. Fred and I agreed to meet at
      InfoAge at 8:00 in the morning. He wouldn't be around after noon, so
      I was planning on a fast return to Summit, reload, and then back to
      InfoAge. I went to the bank and took out cash, wondering whether or
      not (besides the systems at the house) he'd have anything else
      worthwhile. I also went to Staples and bought a bunch of storage

      So this morning, I made the trip, got there, met Fred, and we
      unloaded the mostly radio stuff to a place in the basement just
      outside the room designated for our use. Fred showed me the inner
      room with all the shelves, and indicated that we could move the
      stuff into the inner room and onto the shelves at some later time
      (on the 12th, at least).

      I drove back, and on the way Lou called me to say that the
      inspectors would be late, so I should come back at 11. So instead of
      going straight to Summit and saving ~25 miles, I headed back home to
      handle some family business. That took longer than expected, so I
      called Lou and let him know. When I got there at about 11:30, he
      showed me the back of his pickup truck - LOADED with systems!!

      We packed all that stuff into my wagon, then I set to work on moving
      the (hopefully) working systems into the large boxes. Whenever
      possible, I did NOT unplug cables from devices; rather I carefully
      slid everything into the box together. It will take some care to
      untangle everything, but if we work on one system at a time, it
      shouldn't be a problem. (I felt that I had to do it this way in
      order to avoid losing the relationships between units unfamiliar to
      me - I didn't want unrelated things getting plugged in where they
      shouldn't...)  Meanwhile Lou searched the attic and retrieved a few
      more systems and disk drives.

      Two hours later, there was barely enough room in my car for me! I
      had systems, printers, software, manuals, etc. etc. etc. (list will
      follow below!) I could barely close the rear hatch!

      I left Summit just before 2pm, and called Fred on his cellphone to
      let him know, even though I knew he wasn't going to be at the
      museum. I got there right at 3pm, checked in, and prepared to unload.

      By 4pm, I had managed to move everything from the car AND from the
      earlier drop-off (on the floor) into the inner room, onto the
      shelves, and categorized roughly into groups of related things.

      My day ended with the trip home, and this report. Total time
      involved: yesterday ~ 5 hours, today ~9 hours. Miles driven: ~320.
      Money spent $200 on equipment, $48 on boxes (not all were used),
      plus gas (~$30). Phone calls: unallocated part of my monthly
      minutes. Assessment: Well, I don't know about you, but I feel pretty
      good about it!


      OK, so what's in the basement?

      Let me start with the non-computer stuff that we can use(?), or
      give, sell, or barter with:

      About 20 or 30 of various types (6 transistor, 8 trans, 12 trans, to
      other portable shortware receivers). Various makes and models,
      including a few Archer/Radio Shack, and some I don't recognize.
      (NOTE: Some have batteries in them and they should be removed on the

      One Hi-Fi, probably early 1960's.

      One cool desktop set with big dials, and a matching external
      speaker, both in metal housings. Also two cigar boxes, one
      containing photos of some people with the radio, presumably one of
      the guys is David, and another cigar box filled with postcards from
      the other ham/shortwave operators he made contact with. I believe
      these additional materials may add value to whatever the hardware is

      A box of vacuum tubes! Some used, but many in their individual

      Radio - Miscellaneous
      A really cool FRAMED, COLOR chart of allocated and unallocated radio
      frequencies in the Atlantic City area in 1947!!!
      (The radio guys will wet their pants when they see this!!)

      Meters and test equipment
      Several VOMs; I think one was built from a kit.

      A radio frequency generator, I think built from a kit.

      A REALLY BIG and REALLY COOL LOOKING meter for measuring radio

      Some other radio signal test stuff.

      A resistor selection box and a capacitor selection box.

      Two separate meters (one volts, one amps?), and rack-panel of meters
      (several of each type?)

      OK, and now the computer stuff

      The "working systems" include:  (these also include the power
      - Several Commodores (I think two are 64s, the other a 128), with
      monitor, floppies, joystick...

      - Another Commodore (64?) with floppy and really small printer

      - A flat grey Atari system box (don't remember the number), with
      monitor and keyboard

      - Amiga 1000(?): system box, monitor, kbd, mouse, floppy drive
      - extra Amiga boards

      - As many boxes of disks and diskettes as I could find...

      One Atari 400
      One Atari 500
      Three Atari 800
      Two Atari 800XL
      Two Commodoare PET COLOR

      Four external disk drives - (I think 2 are 1581 or something like
      that, and the other 2 are different).
      Two Atari tape recorders
      One Atari tape recorder, not boxed

      Boards, cards, extenders, etc. for Atari

      Four Apple IIc monitors

      Two Tandy color computers
      One Tandy line printer (IV?) not boxed but with cover
      One Tandy floppy drive for CoCo
      One small box of fanfold paper.
      Some manuals for a Tandy 1000 (which I was not able to take)
      A small box of boards marked for the TRS80 Model II (didn't ID
      types, but there are probably 6 or 8 in the box)

      An original IBM PC keyboard (in IBM-blue-and-white box)
      Two other PC items (can't remember just now)
      Several cartons of IBM PC software, including early releases of:
      - Wordstar
      - Clipper
      - MS Excel
      - more...

      One Diablo 630 printer (with extra printwheels and ribbons! <VBG>),
      not boxed and VERY HEAVY!!!

      One Star Micronics printer (don't remember the number)
      Ribbons for a Star printer (But I don't know if they're for the
      above printer...)

      Two small boxes of manuals and documents for TI-99/4a

      One Atari TV game station
      Two Magnavox Oddessy systems, not boxed
         (if these have RCA-1802 microprocessors, I'm going to take one
      back for examination...)

      A bunch of unopened vinyl computer covers

      One Smith-Corona Electra 110(?) typewriter, not boxed

      Two cartons and a stack of other stuff, not identified... (I looked
      and saw; I just don't remember right now -- I think there were
      joysticks, a PONG game, and more...)

      Three small boxes of calculators
        WARNING: Evan is permitted to inspect these first and determine if
      any are worth adding to his collection!!
      A box of about 10 calculator covers

      One fairly modern modem


      OK, I know there are more things that I haven't listed, but this is
      the best I can do at this time. We can double check on the 12th.

      (By the way, for the 12th (and afterward), we DO need tables,
      lights, and extension cords. (And hard hats?)
      And I would REALLY love it if somehow we get a hand truck or palette
      jack or something so that moving can be done with a lot less

      BE ADVISED: there is very little room left on the shelves on the
      left side of the room! I'm sure this stuff can be condensed and re-
      organized, but I tried to keep things from getting too jammed, so
      that they are visible for inventorying and examination.

      Also, although he's a contractor doing a renovation, I explained to
      Lou that when someone donates stuff, we keep their name with the
      equipment, and I asked if he was interested in doing so. He laughed
      and said "You paid for it - it's yours, John!" So, when it comes to
      identifying where all this equipment came from, I think that I'd
      like to indicate that the original owner before me was David Z. We
      can get his full name and address from some of the boxes... Maybe we
      can also do some biographical research to find out more about his
      life and work...


      So now you know "the rest of the story!" 


      I look forward to hearing your thoughtful assessment of what this
      equipment is worth toward our museum's goals.


      -John M.
      Montclair, NJ

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