Old gadgets are worth more and more: ‘There is a new generation of collectors’

While Apple fans are looking forward to new products tonight at Apple’s annual WWDC conference, more and more gadget fans are spending their money on old devices that they have fond memories of. According to Catawiki, the demand for such vintage electronics has ‘increased by more than 50 percent’ in two years in the Netherlands.

Rare old Apple computers and Nintendo consoles have been making huge amounts of money for a while now, but lately, there has also been a growing demand for gadgets from noughties, such as iPods and iPhones. That interest comes from a different group of people than collectors of old computers, says Toby Wickwire of Catawiki. “We see more and more collectors in their twenties and thirties who have nostalgic feelings for, say, the first iPod and iPhone. These are the devices they grew up with.”

The younger generation is not yet collecting as an investment in items that could become valuable later, Wickwire says. “They go for the products they themselves have memories of. It’s not about the money, it’s about the mood. Or they want to give the first iMac a nice place in their home, for example, as an object in their interior.”

The Corona pandemic contributed to the growing interest in collecting vintage electronics. “Corona has definitely had an impact. People were at home looking for new hobbies. Collecting is simply a hobby that does not require you to leave the house,” said Wickwire, curator of old electronics safes at Catawiki.

Original packaging and prototypes

Gadgets that were released in limited editions, or that are still in their original packaging, are worth the most money. Prototypes – early versions of products – are also an interesting category. For example, a prototype of the mouse for the Apple Lisa computer is currently on Catawiki. Wickwire: “Prototypes can also be worth a lot of money. Especially if it was an important product in history, or if it was never released in the end. For example, we now have an auction of a prototype of a Nokia phone with a large touch screen , which never came on the market. ”

Old computers that are still fully functional are also in demand, for example because some parts, such as the hard drive or battery, have been replaced. “There’s also a market for it. There are people who want to surf the Internet with an old Commodore 64, to relive the experience they had back then. Or people who want to play a particular game on a Windows 95 PC, where the game was originally for. Such a game also sometimes plays much better on the original hardware than via an emulator on a modern computer, so you get the same experience as before. ” There are also professional salespeople who disassemble units completely and clean them properly. “These people also indicate exactly what has been changed on a particular device or what has been repaired.”

At Apple, it is striking that not only devices are collected, but also many other items. Even Apple retailer signs and lighting from the 1980s brought in hundreds or thousands of dollars at auctions. And last year, a floppy disk signed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was sold on Catawiki for 2,400 euros.


The rising prices of vintage electronics could also attract scammers, warns Wickwire. “In China, fake boxes are made with old Apple products. You have to look closely at the pictures to see if something is legal or fake.” As an avid game collector, he has extensive experience in determining if an item is genuine. “In the gaming world, fake products are a much bigger problem than with electronics, especially with Nintendo and Pokémon.”

If you still have an iPod or iPhone in an unopened package, it is better to keep it safe. Although the never-used iPhones will give less if they are not from the first two generations, Wickwire expects. “Of the iPhones that showed up later, there is often a much larger selection of devices that are still in the packaging. This is because more people then realized that ‘sealed’ iPhones would later be worth money. The box will be worth less than an unused iPhone 2G or iPhone 3G in the future. “

Tonie van Ringelestijn, editor Bright

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