For people our age it was baseball cards. Our mothers tossed them out (along with some magazines we’d rather not mention), and we never forgave them and spent years in therapy to heal the emotional rift.
For Sellam Ismail it’s old computers.
He collects and sells them. The clunkier and slower, the better.
He currently has more than 3,000 “classic” PCs on offer at VintageTech, along with a lot of out-of-date software, various computer-related brochures, and printers.
It all started when he was a lad.
His mother insisted on ridding their home of computer clutter and forced young Ismail to throw away his 1983 Mattel Aquarius when he bought a brand-new Apple II Plus.
He instantly regretted it and took an oath then to save old PCs from the scrap heap.
So Ismail started collecting antique electronics in Livermore, California. And soon he started getting visits from fellow geeks — along with other customers. Like a patent lawyer who needed to compare old computers to see who came up with the first cover latch. And the California official who wanted a machine to read 1950s cemetery records on 50,000 punch cards. And the filmmaker doing a documentary on the tech revolution. Ismail even supplied Teletype machines for a Richard Gere movie.
The hits just keep on coming: “I have Windows 1.0 in its original retail package, complete with disks and manuals,” Ismail recently boasted to computer trade magazine Network World.
Just doesn’t get any better than that — if you’re a computer nerd. We’d rather have our old magazines back.