Apple II at The Strong Museum of Play

December 30th, 2019 12:00 PM
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I love visiting computer museums, be it the Computer History Museum of Mountain View, California; the Living Computers: Museum & Labs of Seattle, Washington; or the InfoAge Museum of Wall Township, New Jersey. But the only museum I've visited repeatedly is The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. I stopped by there twice in 2011, just a year after the museum expanded to include the International Center for the History of Electronic Games. As a former member of the gaming press, I've been able to donate a variety of video game rarities to the ICHEG.

This past weekend marked my third visit to The Strong, and as always, I was drawn to its Apple II artifacts. The history of gaming exhibit is diverse, if not comprehensive, and includes names and equipment familiar to retrocomputing enthusiasts. Several new artifacts had been added since my last visit eight years ago, including the original Apple II computers of Bill Budge and John Romero, as seen in these photos.

While other computers made multiple appearances, including the TRS-80, the Apple II is the only machine I saw in triplicate. While The Strong often inadvertently snubs the Apple II in its annual nominations to the World Video Game Hall of Fame, it's great to see the institution give the computer — and its developers — the recognition they deserve.

For my photos from the Women in Games exhibit, visit the Juiced.GS website. For yet more Strong photos, visit Gamebits!

Say goodbye to Tekserve

May 23rd, 2016 8:56 AM
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When my father brought home our first Apple II, it came from Computer Systems & Software, an authorized Apple dealer. Back then, this was one of the only ways to get an Apple product: there was no online ordering, few mail-order opportunities, and definitely no Apple Stores, which didn't debut until 2001.

When Apple opened its first retail stores, doing so cut out the middleman — small businessmen such as the proprietor of Computer Systems & Software. That competition, combined with the advent of Internet sales, made it difficult for mom-and-pop, brick-and-mortar shops to stay in business. It was unpleasant but unexpected when CS&S closed up shop some time ago.

The next victim appears to be one of CS&S's contemporaries. Tekserve has served New York City since 1987, providing sales and service to consumers and businesses alike. And while Tekserve will continue to exist, its quaint retail outlet — featuring not only classic computers, but "ancient radios, an antique Coke machine… massive old RCA microphones… and a stereoscope with hundreds of photographs" may soon be closing shop.

As reported by Jeremiah Moss, Tekserve will be reducing or eliminating its consumer retail presence this fall. They will continue to sell and service products for small- and medium-sized business clients, so the company as a whole is not going away. But a lot of employees, services, and artifacts are likely to disappear as a result of this transition.

I visited Tekserve in 2012 and received a behind-the-scenes tour, resulting in the below photo gallery. It's a damn fine place with a heritage of and respect for Apple products — including the Apple II — that you don't often find. If you can visit the store before their September transition, please do.

(Hat tip to Jason Scott)

Behind the scenes at Tekserve

July 2nd, 2012 9:39 AM
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While attending WordCamp NYC with representatives of IvanExpert last month, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Jazmin Hupp, director of marketing for Tekserve, New York City's oldest Apple specialist. She graciously provided us with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Tekserve space, from the classroom to the break room to the museum. I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of objects reflecting Tekserve's and Apple's heritage, including a typewriter, the Cirqus Voltaire pinball machine, and many models of Apple II and Macintosh models.

You don't need to have connections to see these artifacts for yourself: several will be placed on display on the main floor July 17 – September 6 as part of the store's 25th anniversary. In the meantime, this photo gallery should provide an intriguing vicarious experience of my tour.

Apple-1 sells for record-breaking $374K

June 18th, 2012 4:13 PM
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It started simply enough: three years ago, an Apple-1 was estimated to be worth around $15,000.

Shortly thereafter, an Apple-1 sold on eBay (auction #320451173813) for $50,000.

A year later, that same Apple-1 sold at Christie's of London for $213,000.

The latest Apple-1 to appear on the auction block, this one at Sotheby's in New York, had a more modest estimated value of $120,000 – $180,000. Yet it set a new record when it sold for $374,500.

Sotheby's Apple-1

And worth every penny!

Addressing that staggering price tag, Vintage Computer Festival East organizer Evan Koblentz made a brief appearance in this CNN.com story about the auction:

It's not surprising that mainstream media would attribute the auction's high fetching price to "the cult of Apple". But that inaccurately identifies a working Apple-1 as an illogical object of geek lust, instead of the rare and significant historical relic it is.

But even geeks sometimes buy into the hype. The CNN video recommends viewers hold onto their old iPod or first-generation iPad: "Some day, it might be a precious artifact." Although those devices were revolutionary (or at least evolutionary), they don't signify the humble beginnings of an empire like the Apple-1 does. More important, possibly no Apple product has ever been manufactured in as low a quantity as the Apple-1. As much as we may complain about the current going rates for an Apple II on eBay, the machine isn't exactly rare, despite the newest model being 19 years old. Given the proliferation of iOS devices, it is unlikely we will ever see them in the scarcity that now drives the Apple-1's auctions.

On the bright side, events such as this auction have the potential to bring attention to the value and significance of classic computing. Besides Koblentz, other familiar retrocomputing enthusiasts got some nice press as a result of this event: after appearing in my previous coverage of this topic, Mike Willegal was interviewed for the run-up to this auction.

(Hat tip to Christian)