Retro Priorities – Part One

Everyone’s retrocomputing hobby budget is finite.  This may be a blessing in disguise.  I’ve found that the amount of retro gear that I have far exceeds the amount of time that I have to play with it.  I’ve recently begun thinking about how to right-size my collection.  I have some ideas on this that I’ll share in another post – but right now, I’d like to talk about a related topic – new acquisitions.

I do have some limited discretionary funds for my retro hobby, and the question comes up frequently – what to spend it on?  Now that I’ve made some tentative decisions on what machines and activities I’ll focus on (more on that later), I can confidently allocate my money using these principles:

  • First priority – fix things that are broken.  For instance, one of my computers, an Epson PX-8 laptop, was out of commission due to a worn-out NiCad battery.  I decided that getting a replacement pack was a top priority, because I don’t want to have computers laying around, unavailable for fun.  This causes stress, and is a waste.
  • Second priority – enhancements and additions to the systems I’m focusing on.  For instance, I have my eyes on buying a Rasberry Pi – not to play with it as such, but to see if I can make it into a virtual disk drive for the Epson PX-8 (blog posting on this over at Retrobits).
  • Third priority – new stuff.  If there are systems that I’d still like to add to my collection, I’ll spend money on this where necessary – but only after priorities 1 and 2 are taken care of.  An example: I’d like to save up for something that will run OpenVMS (either a VAXstation or an Alpha system).

I used this list of priorities just today, when deciding whether to buy a particular piece of retro software.  It fit into the third category – but I’m nowhere near done with 1 and 2.  So out it went, and I feel better not having been tempted to get it, even though it was a great deal.

What sort of ideas do you use to figure out how to spend your time, money and space, with respect to the hobby?  Drop me a line and let me know…

– Earl