Friday, November 12, 2010

Why you should bequeath your grandkids an iPhone

When the word antique is used, most of us will think: furniture, paintings, crockery and other products of centuries-past that now fetch considerably more than their original value.

For those like myself who were born into a world where computers were once only to be found in a few lucky universities, government establishments and large corporations - the concept of an antique computer seems somewhat incongruous.

However, anyone who was smart enough to hang on to one of those early microcomputers from the 1970s, especially any of the particularly iconic units, is now the proud owner of a rapidly appreciating asset that almost qualifies as an antique.

A great example of this is the rare Apple 1 computer which goes up for auction this month in London.

The bare-bones system is little more than a circuit board, cassette tape with some basic firmware and a handful of printed manuals, including a letter from Steve Jobs, along with an invoice for the princely sum of $666.

So just what is such an "old" microcomputer worth these days?

Well, despite the depressed economy, the auctioneers are expecting this piece of computer history to sell for between NZ$200,000 and NZ$300,000.

That's a rather stunning return on the original investment, don't you think?

Of course it helps immensely that there were only 200 of these systems ever made and the vast majority have long-since been consigned to the scrapheap by owners unaware of exactly what they were throwing away.

So what about those other antique computers that were so common over 30 years ago?

How much for a Commodore Pet? A TRS80 Model 1? Or perhaps a humble Sinclair ZX80?

Well chances are that if you have one of these, or similar machines carefully packed away, complete with manuals, disks and other assorted paraphernalia -- and if it's in pristine condition, you may also be sitting on a little goldmine of antiquity.

These days, even a "new in box" sample of the very first IBM PC would likely be worth a pretty penny to a collector of such things.

So, if you've just bought yourself a brand new Apple iPad, or have an original Apple iPhone in near-new condition -- don't ever throw it away when it comes time to upgrade. Box it up carefully and leave it to your grandkids. It may appreciate in value far more rapidly than cash in the bank and thus make a fine inheritance.

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