A "Fair Market Price" for Uncle Bernie's 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits ?

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A "Fair Market Price" for Uncle Bernie's 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits ?

Have you seen this auction:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/224458439770

 

According to theory of economics, the second highest bidder sets the fair market price.Alas, Ebay distorts this by not increasing the steps like real auction houses do.

 

What do you think ? Are these prices the "right ones", whatever that means ? $1215 ?

 

You need to consider the effects of "time preference" and what I call "RQLT", an acronym which stands for "Residual Quality Life Time". I think I may have invented this term but other philosophers may have arrived a similar conclusions but use different words. In essence, RQLT is the time an individual has left to live a quality life. The three axis involved are time, wealth, and health. The life of any individual can be described by a trajectory in this 3D space. Health, of course, also includes mental health which includes happiness.

 

One interesting observation I have made is that a unit of RQLT of young people (like kids and teenagers) is essentially worthless (otherwise they would not waste it in front of the TV or with social media or other nonsense, and if I wanted to be cynical, in school, too). However, for older people like me, RQLT gets more and more valuable and cherished, while wealth gets less and less important as long as the basic costs of living are met. In the end, the moment of your death, all the wealth you have is completely meaningless and all money you have is utterly worthless for you.

 

In between the two points on the time axis named "birth" and "death" all sorts of events can happen. For most, there also will be a point on the time axis called "life quality lost" which means a major event that either wrecks your health or wealth in a terminal way, which can't be undone or recovered from, and everything left for you after that event is misery and suffering instead of a "quality" life.

 

Only in the ideal case, this point on the time axis coincides with the end point of the time axis, "Death". Smart people try their best to push their "life quality lost" point as close to their "death" point as possible, by eating and exercising well, getting regular cancer screenings, and by avoiding toxic substances or toxic people. Of course, in any case, the increasing value of each unit of RQLT with increasing age means that the older you get, the less you should squander these units on activities that bear no fruit or are otherwise not worthy of your time.

 

Now, in this philosophical framework, you may be able to understand why some people may pay a lot of money for one of my 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits. Their RQLT units probably are deemed by them to be too valuable to be squandered on hours and hours of searching the reason why the damn Apple-1 clone using unqualified ICs from other sources doesn't work.

 

Based on my own experience with the suprisingly high rate of bad ICs I have already fished out during my process of making these kits I think the chances are slim to get a functional Apple-1 build with unproven ICs. There are lots of ICs in the Apple-1, and a single bad one can rise hell, so the odds are not in your favour, see the "Chamber of Horrors" here:

 

https://www.applefritter.com/content/horror-room-symptoms-bad-cis

 

My "graveyard" of bad ICs I fished out can be seen in post #7. Each of these bad ICs would have needlessly frustrated an Apple-1 builder.

 

By "fishing" them out and eliminating them I can prevent such frustration ! Every builder using unproven ICs from dubious sources does so at his/her own risk and invites disaster and frustration and wasted time and money (because once the frantic swapping of ICs starts, more ICs will be bought)  !

 

And I can prove this by several cases of Apple-1 builders who just have bought my PROM-only kits I sold before I had built the rigs to produce complete, tested and burned in IC kits. There are some builders using unproven ICs who still struggle to get their Apple-1 builds into a working condition, after 4-5 months or so. Just recently I was contacted by a guy who built three (!) Apple-1 (because the first one did not work, the second one was built in hopes it would turn out better...) and none of them works, but no, he does not want to buy one of my 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits because he has all the parts bought elsewhere ... you see the irony here. Many months of frustration and suffering and cursing and wasted time and still not achieving the desired results.

 

With my 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits this simply does not happen. Every builder who built an Apple-1 based on one of my IC kits and has adopted my reliability mods most likely had 100% success on the first power up. This bold statement is based on the fact that not a single case was reported to me where the builder ran into trouble with any of my IC kits. If they had any such trouble, they sure would contact me to complain. Instead, most of the questions & answers on my free coaching-by-email "hotline" every buyer of my kits is eligible to use, revolve around procurement of other parts which I don't provide yet, or how to adapt weird keyboards, or unknown transformers, or how to make the cassette interface work more reliably (you can't, but stay tuned, I'm still working on that, too).

 

So far everything looks good and it seems my 100% tested and burned-in Apple-1 IC kits work as intended: success on first power-up for Apple-1 builders. But does this justify these high bids seen on Ebay ? Even with the RQLT / time preference effects involved ? I'm asking this because I found no good answer to the phenomenon observed.

 

Comments invited !

 

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From the price I can tell you

From the price I can tell you the buyer was likely from Europe. And you have atleast two bidders that are willingen to spend 1000€. There are not many options to choice from and request is rising do to too much time in Coronatimes. It's somekind unlogic people build Apple I to "waste" there extra time they can not spend easy do Corona restrictions. But on the other hand they do not want to spend time to wait for a better offer. So single impationed people bring the price up. Question is, is that repeatable? And how often.

My recommandation make the second highest bidder an offer for the same price he will pay it. But don't  expect to many to follow.

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Hi Uncle Bernie!

As far as I know in marketing (I'm a plumber), a product is worth exactly what you're willing to pay for it. I think in a few years this price will become customary, the stock of 2513 and 2519 is melting before our eyes. And without them a replica is not a replica, I mean not a real replica. Your kits are reliable and save A1 builders a lot of trouble. Just put it in and be happy. Congrats on a great sale!

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Technical I created

Technical I created replacements for both.The 2513 can easily replaced with an EPROM.

The 2519 wit 6x HEF4557B. And I found another one chip replacement that also starts to be hard to get.

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Hi natas666!

I've seen it all, second floor through adapters. That's not what it's all about.

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About the Apple-1 parts situation and hobby electronics shops.

In post #3, Macintosk_nik wrote:

 

"I think in a few years this price will become customary, the stock of 2513 and 2519 is melting before our eyes."

 

Uncle Bernie's counterpoint:

 

Sorry, my friend, but I don't know who feeds you this disinformation and propaganda ? The price usurers who want and arm and a leg for humble parts like 2513, 2519, 2504/1404 ?

I know they are out there, lurking in places like Ebay, and they want to rip us off. Their propaganda about parts "running out" may have contributed to the outrageous hammer price of that auction mentioned in post #1. For those who believe them ... don't do that !

 

Let me explain the situation in the current market environment for Apple-1 parts and for hobby electronics in general.

 

And a let me tell you a bit of history, too, before my memory fades away.

 

Im old enough (older than I want to be) to have seen the first hobbyist built digital clocks and the first Hewlett Packard HP-35 scientific calculators, just after they came out, in the early 1970s. I have seen the birth of the microprocessor, and its rise, and its fall. This "age of electronics" lasted 50 years, half a century, and was very turbulent indeed.

And was right in it !

 

Here are the facts: there still are huuuuge stocks of all ICs needed for Apple-1 builds worldwide. Alone one chip broker in UK which I get my 2519 from has 5000+ of them in stock, which, at the current rate of consumption, as far as the best estimate goes, would last the Apple-1 builder crowd for another 100 years ! The 2504/1404 shift registers once were made by so many companies that you find plenty of them in stock here, there and everywhere, I've seen quantities of 500-2000 at each broker who has them, but the 2504 is a bit scarcer unless you want the TO metal can package (from which the global stock is 10000+). The 2513 character generator also is abundant - there are still thousands in stock at various brokers) but they got too expensive for me. There is a General Instrument made drop-in replacement which you can get for about $3 each, worldwide known stock of those is over 25000. But of course, purists despise such substitutions. For the TTLs, I know one broker in California who has bought, for pennies on the dollar, all TTLs he could get when RoHS made them obsolete and the distributors threw them out of their inventory. He sits on $20+ million worth of such ICs nobody else in the world has in these quantities.

 

The real problem why hobbyists building Apple-1 may perceive an IC shortage is that they can't possibly buy from chip brokers. These do not sell single ICs to individuals. They sell them by the tube to businesses and the pricing is very peculiar. For instance, for one type of ICs I got a quote of $450 for a tube of 25. This is $18 per IC (another of my riddles: guess what that IC was !). Two tubes was $650. In the end I bought four tubes for a tad over $1000 and then even shipping was free. But I ran into the problem that I had no accredited business account with that broker. So no deal, directly. I know another broker who trusts my personal checks because of many years of good business relations among us, and he ordered these four tubes for me from the other broker (which have a network of trust among them, much like stock brokers do). I had to pay "my" broker a small handling fee. But that's OK. For the initial 100 Apple-1 I intended to build and sell I invested more than $23000 into the ICs alone. At this order amount I was able to access the international chip broker network and they rolled out a red carpet for me (figuratively). Various brokers all around the world worked together to fulfill my big order and gave me the best prices. Actually, there was a bidding process for the lowest bidders of each type of IC. This is how this business works, folks.

 

Try that as a hobbyist needing one single 2519 ! They would not even pick up the phone for you !

 

Now, this is the point where the price gougers come into the game. Some individuals (or small mail-order businesses catering to hobbyists) may buy one tube of ICs from a smaller broker who is desperate enough to do such mouse deals. But chip brokers are a sort of guild and they have iron rules they never break: there is a minimum order amout which may be somewhere between $250 and $1000. If you buy one tube of ICs, that's the price you have to pay (unless the ICs themselves cost more).

 

Now, most individuals are greedy bastards and so they try to sell the superflous ICs they don't need for their own Apple-1 builds at 2x to 4x their own cost. They only lower their prices if they don't sell. This is why you can see offers for 2519 on Ebay anywhere from $35 to $99. Which is way too much.

 

For the mail order places, the economics are different. If they run a store front which they rent, the actual usurer is the landlord. To pay that greedy bastard, they have to jack up their prices, and this is why the audio jacks in my kits which I source from China for 30 cents each cost $1.79 each if you buy them at such a place.

 

Frankly, I don't think that running an electronics parts shop with a storefront is commercially viable anymore. They had their heydays in the 1970s when hobby electronics was all the rage, and then, in the late 1980s, the decline already set in and in the late 1990s most of these shops were gone. The shift of the electronics industry to SMD technology certainly is a factor. And while in the early 1970s you actually could save money if you built a digital clock from TTLs and 7-segment LED displays, now you can get a mass produced LCD based digital clock for $1 at Dollar Tree. Nowadays, all consumer electronics are so ridicolously cheap that DIY simply does not make any sense anymore. Niche phenomena like the international Apple-1 builder crowd can't keep these shops alive. The last one of them, here in Colorado Springs, closed their doors in October 2020, forever, after 40+ years in the business:

 

 

 

Which affected me, too, because I did source some of my parts for the Apple-1 kits from there, such as all the capacitors and the carbon composition resistors and the PROM blanks. I have found other sources in the meanwhile but the prices I have to pay are much higher. So I had to stop selling capacitor and PROM kits and my "IC Kits" have no passive components as originally planned.

 

BTW, for the sake of completeness of this post, none of the passive components in the Apple-1 are scarce. You can still buy the carbon composition resistors, the ceramic disk bypass capacitors, and the big blue Sprague electrolytics from various vendors. The latter are still in production, nowadays made by Vishay who have acquired the electrolytic capacitor business from Sprague. So you can buy such capacitors "factory new", i.e. at mouser.com, alas, at a steep price (but to be paid with inflated toilet paper dollars, mind you !), and the 5600/15 are out of stock at the distributors, so you need to order 80+ to get them, which will cost you the pocket change of $1000+ (again, toilet paper dollars, soon to be utterly worthless, if the insane money printing by the Biden administration continues). You can still order other values they have in stock, which are close and have the same size and looks. But they are not exactly cheap.

 

There was a time when $500 bought you a trunk full of food and fresh produce, and it was a huuuge trunk of a big American gas guzzler, which did not matter because gas was 56 cents a gallon. This could feed a family of five with three hungry kids for three months. Last week I went shopping at Whole Foods and the few organic groceries and some grass fed beef and imported cheese did cost me $380. Ouch ! The shopping cart was not even half full.

 

Soon we all may be billionaires, own nothing, but you won't like it ! No Lamborghini for you ! Despite you are a billionaire ! (Greetings from Zimbabwe where everybody was a trillionaire !)

 

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The broader discussion of

The broader discussion of current economic policy is off-topic for this forum.

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Hi Uncle Bernie!

"This is $18 per IC (another of my riddles: guess what that IC was !"

 

It makes sense to assume it was 2519 or 2513, but knowing Uncle Bernie it's probably a trick question...

 

Even though Tom didn't like it, I was very interested to read it. About RQLT, brokers and inflation. I've been buying lots on eBay for about 10 years for my hobby, (never sold Apple ][ and early Macintosh in Russia), prices have gone up noticeably on everything in that time.

 

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In post #7, Tom Owad wrote: 

In post #7, Tom Owad wrote:

 

"The broader discussion of current economic policy is off-topic for this forum. "

 

Uncle Bernie agrees with Tom Owad. We don't want to have a discussion about  the current economy (or what's left of it) here in an Apple-1 forum.

There are plenty of other internet forums for that ugly topic.

 

I gave the price points for food (back in 1971 and now, 2021 --- 50 years difference)  with the intent to show to posterity what we are writing about. Prices without historical context are meaningless. But with my price examples for food, even readers in 100 years will know that the $666.66 retail price of an original Apple-1 would feed a familiy of five for 2-4 months (depending how much food prices went up in the 4 years until the Apple-1 came out but IIRC they did not increase all too much), and in year 2021 you could buy all the parts for building an Apple-1 clone for half a shopping cart of quality food.

 

So the conclusion is that you forfeit much less food now for an Apple-1 than back in the day. Seems like you can get a much better deal now, yes ?

 

If I ever can find the time to finish this sub-project, I'll post the BOM for the original Apple-1 with 1975 prices. I began to do this when I found my old BYTE magazines which had ads of mail order businesses selling ICs. But somehow I got stuck and could not finish this list yet.

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