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1662Re: [midatlanticretro] Saga of the Commodores in Summit, NJ

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  • Jim Scheef
    Nov 4, 2005

      --- john_apw <infomagic@...> wrote:

      > Gentlemen:
      > 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
      > message.
      > 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
      > boxes.
      > 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:
      > Radios
      > =====================
      > 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
      > 12th)
      > 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
      > worth...
      > A box of vacuum tubes! Some used, but many in their individual
      > boxes.
      > 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
      > signals.
      > 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
      > supplies)
      > ------------------------------
      > - 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
      > effort!!)
      > 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.
      > Thanks,
      > -John M.
      > Montclair, NJ
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