Re: [midatlanticretro] Saga of the Commodores in Summit, NJ
--- john_apw <infomagic@...> wrote:
> 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...
> ALL OF THESE ARE BOXED UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE!!!
> 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