This was a question i was actually asked in an e-mail. I always try to answer every e-mail in detail if i can and i also did that with this one (Hi George!).
But yeah I thought maybe I should share some insights into my collection craziness with everyone.
Before I take a deep breath – my collection craziness faded out a bit when i got married and now with 2 kids i lack the time and money to buy all the crazy stuff i used to. So take it as my memoirs. I still have my whole DOS palmtop collection – which is the last thing i could defend from the claws of my wife, but I am honestly thinking of selling some pieces. If you have 5 models of a Sharp PC-3000 and 4 of the PC-3100 it ‘s getting difficult to defend the need to keep all of them. And then there’s the other 60ish palmtops. I can personally defend the argument to keep ONE spare, but it’s difficult to argue why you have 5 of the same type. So – YAY – I guess in the near future some fellow collectors can have the one or other rare piece.
But back to DOS Palmtops. It’s not just them. They are just the melting Pot of so many interests and loads of love and memories.
But let’s try to sum up my interests and love.
- Small things. I have been collecting “miniatures” since i was a little school boy. I used to have a big show case in my childhood room and it was packing full of everything miniature. Not necessary everything boys love, but everything that would qualify as a miniature. A tiny book(a bit larger than a stamp. I think it was a Spanish bible, but what mattered was the tiny size), miniature cars (even smaller than the typical matchbox cars, obviously the smaller the better), hell even perfume miniatures (I guess most were the type my mum thought didn’t smell that nice). Really everything I could get my hands on. Later it were miniature (toy) trains and especially the buildings, when i grew older and didn’t need to argue why this was strange i even got some doll house stuff like a miniature fridge and matching miniature food. I guess everyone has a hobby.
- Computers. My first computer was a Commodore C-64. Not because that was exactly what I wanted but because it was cheap. Later my Dad got a real PC – a Tandon 80286 with a green monochrome (Hercules) screen and 5.25 inch floppy. Whooping 20 MB HDD and I think 1 MB RAM. Needless to say that when he wasn’t at home me and my friends prefered the PC.
- MS-DOS. Well I guess every DOS would do, but back in the days mainstream was screaming “MS-DOS” when it was about DOS. When I could finally afford my first own PC – a 486 DLC with whooping 4 MB RAM, 2 x 62 MB HDDs, SVGA card,14 inch screen (Up to 1024×768 res), Sound Blaster (Or “compatible”. Actually thinking about it – rather “compatible” i guess) and even a space age CD-ROM drive (1x speed) I felt like a king. And yeah of course it came with MS-DOS. I would ocassionally load Windows 3.1 but MS-DOS was “THE” system.
- AA-Batteries. This weird passion definitely came last (But not least!). My adventurer days are kinda over now (Well maybe if the kids are a bit older they’ll come back…) but if you’ve ever been on a trip through a jungle and the batteries of your laptop and camera died you might remember my words when i say “It’s a blessing when you carry a few 8 pack of AA Batteries with you and know you can power your computer and camera from these for like another whole day.
- Size, size and size. probably the only reason why i still have my palmtop collection is the tiny size. I also started a small collection of arcade machines before i got married – but you guess that this hobby consumes quite some space. Maybe collecting writst watches, stamps or coins consumes less space, but palmtops will always be on the space-saving list of hobbies, so you can have a quite large collection all in a small cabinet.
- Not endless. There’s loads of stuff you can collect that will eat up your savings like there’s no tomorrow. But with DOS Palmtops there’s just a rather small selection of machines available. So unless you act like me and start having 6 palmtops of the same make and model you won’t spend much money after a while – simply because you can’t find any machine that’s not already in your collection. Yeah in the beginning it’s easy since you can always get a HP 100LX, 200LX or an Atari Portfolio, but after a while you just end up searching for new DOS palmtops and come up with nothing.
After all is said and done this is a halfway typical “Vintage computer” hobby. You have loads of games and apps you can use, you spend loads of money (Hint – an emulator is usually free, greetings from DOSBOX) and there’s few realistic tasks of today you can use these for. Try to camouflage this as a useful object, but honestly – your smartphone can probably do a thousand things more and faster – so maybe just take it as a hobby. But yeah you can do much more with them than with a coin or stamp, so maybe not the worst hobby ever. Unless you get extreme. Like me.