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Collecting
by Taper/Triad


There are two kinds of people on the C64 scene. Those who collect and those who don't. In this article we'll try to establish the common factor among the collectors (if any), as well as determine the views of those who do not collect hardware or software. But first of all, let us dig into the psychology of collecting in a broader sense.

Members of the human species have been known for their obsession of collecting for centuries. There seem to be no limit to what the object of desire might be. Sharon Stone is said to collect cashmere sweaters, while late movie director Ed Wood collected angora shirts - supposedly for very different reasons though. Gene Simmons collected Polaroid pictures of girls he hooked up with during tours, and Angelina Jolie collects knives.

Some psychologists claim that the whole notion of collecting steam from our early ancestors who collected nuts, berries and leafs in order to survive during winter. The larger collection, the better chance of survival. Other schools of thought offer other explanations. Notably, father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud stated that all collecting come from unresolved potty training during a person's childhood. I'm personally eased by the fact that much of Freud's theories have since then been disproved...

There are basically two types of collectors. Those who collect solely for professional reasons and make a living by selling their findings to turn a profit, like antique dealers and professional eBay sellers. Then we have those who collect for personal reasons, to fill a need (whether psychological or practical). Of course some individuals might belong to both categories, however in this article we will focus only on those who are personally motivated to collect.

People's motives for starting a collection vary, but many enjoy the thrill of the chase. Searching for and finding that holy grail can give rise to an emotional kick that even resembles to sex or drugs. In addition there is a more long-term goal of putting together the most complete collection of its sort, also related to competition and friendship with other collectors. Other, less emotional reasons, to collect might be for instance someone collecting spare parts for a needed appliance.

At times, collectors are mistaken with hoarders, but hoarders are different from collectors in many ways. A collector aim to organize and maintain his or her collection. A hoarder on the other hand is a person suffering from a psychiatric disease and lack aim and direction in their quest to obtain items. There is no focus and hoarders are mostly ashamed of their behaviour, living in homes cluttered with items and mere garbage which they can't part from. A hoarder is unable to distinguish between items, everything is equally valuable for them. Thus, there is a significant difference between a collector and a hoarder. Some psychiatrists claim that collectors can turn into hoarders if pursuing their interests too the extreme, but most seem to disagree and declare that a hoarder is another thing all together, akin to the definition given above.

With this background established, let's see what some well-known collectors think about the subject, and more importantly, can we see any clues of unresolved potty training?

What is the focus and aim of your collection?

Oxidy: Initially I collected to have all the fun stuff I had when I grew up, thus having all my nostalgia an arms length away. However, today I also collect because I feel it needs to be preserved. I currently focus on shrink-wrapped games and hardware in mint condition. A future goal is to make a small museum.

Taper: Commodore 64/128 and related hardware and software is my main focus. However, I've branched out to anything Commodore, different consoles, computer models and some arcade games during the years. One of my aims is to house such a substantial amount of Commodore 64 hardware that we in TRIAD never run out of real machines to run our productions on. A more personal aim is to own one specimen of each and every C64/C128 model manufactured. This goal is not quite met yet, I lack a C64GS for instance. I also collect original software to some extent, especially cartridge releases, but that collection is still in its infancy. I also enjoy repairing broken hardware, which means that I have many repaired machines in my collection, but also quite some spare parts. Just as Oxidy, the thought of a small museum has crossed my mind. It might never happen in reality though, but it would be nice.

Carrion: I only have four machines left now (the most important ones). But when I was collecting my focus was Commodore machines only. The aim was to have everything I wanted to have when I was a teenager (basically all Commodores and Amigas). I had a few Ataris (like Atari 600XL) for trading purposes, but I wasn't using Ataris at all. The aim also was to have everything in working condition and ready to play. That's why I had like 10 Commodore monitors ready to connect every type of machine I had. So when I wanted to play Amiga I just turned it on. I was a very good customer for the vesalia.de e-shop too, bought a lot of accessories there.

What kind of emotional attachment do you have for your collection?

Oxidy: Since I started with Commodore in 1986 I've only sold one Commodore-related thing. That was an Amiga 500 which funded an Amiga 1200. A few big arcade machines had been sold as well, but besides that I've kept everything. Of course this means I have lots of memories and emotions for my old items. Over the years I've also bought many collectibles which I at that moment don't have any emotional attachment to, but over time as they are incorporated in different parts of my collection they too become items I feel connected with. My collection defines me, who I was and who I am.

Taper: Of course there is an emotional value for me. It's hard to put words on it, but I would rather part with all my electronics manufactured after the year 2000 than before, and I realise that is kinda crazy. It's not that I don't recognise the immense technical progress that is taking place all the time, quite the opposite. As long as technical progress is used for the good of mankind, I'm all for it. But I don't have that personal attachment to a 50" LED LCD TV which I have for my 14" 1084S. Call it nostalgia or madness...

Carrion: I really loved my collection as there were a few very good examples of nice and unique machines. But right now I don't feel anything for these computers. It was fun to have them, I enjoy playing them from time to time, but right now I don't have any feelings.

Would you say your collection takes up a substantial amount of space to house, and if so how have you solved that dilemma?

Oxidy: As my collection in 2004 started including arcade (I currently own 14 full size arcades) my house and attic wasn't enough. I now have most of my collection in a 55 m2 big rented space which is decorated as a gaming room.

Taper: I'm currently on a long journey to renovate my basement, where I will house all my collections and in the future also have my base of operations, computer wise. At the moment, too much of my collection is housed in moving boxes, and that is of course unacceptable in the long term. I have more or less completed renovation of one of the basement rooms now, which is used as a repair workshop and storage facility. The cupboards need to be exchanged sooner or later though. Advice to fellow collectors: Avoid buying cupboards from Jysk. They suck and can't take the load. A lot more work remains to be done in my basement before it's all fully ready.

Carrion: The collection was placed in my basement. I had a few racks of computers ready to play with. There was this long desk with the best models like A4000 with CSII 060, or an A3000 in mint condition, or a Commodore 116 almost like new. There was a movie on YouTube showing my collection but I removed it as this is a closed chapter.

One common motive among the above collectors seem to be emotional attachment for their collections. In Carrion's case however, he obviously managed to part with most of his collection in the end, but it couldn't have been an easy decision. Oxidy summed it up perfectly when stating that his collection defines him, who he was and who he is. I think that holds very true in most collectors' cases.

Housing a large collection craves space, an issue solved differently by each collector. Space requirement is perhaps the biggest obstacle to collectors, it restricts their interest in a physical way that might be hard to overcome, especially for people living in larger cities were housing areas are expensive. It's not the only obstacle, though. Some partners might not respect and appreciate the collections that occupy space and their loved ones' time. Judging from the vast collections owned by our subjects above, that problem does not seem to apply to them.

Now, let's move on with a few questions to some sceners who do not collect C64 stuff, and ask them to clarify their reasons for their decision.

Why have you decided not to collect Commodore related items? Have you been a collector in the past?

Iopop: Mostly because the games are already available as cracks. And when it comes to Commodore stuff the scene produced stuff is more interesting than original games/hardware. Also if you look at the games, the cracks are in most cases superior to the originals.

Jeff: Uhm... well, I just have to have ENOUGH Commodore hardware. As I use it...

Algorithm: I don't have any Commodore stuff, I just use emulators. When I was a young teenager, I would purchase quite a lot of software, games and magazines with inlay covers. When coding C64 stuff after 2005 however, I did not feel the need for this, due to having thousands of files in a zip, emulators which emulate to a high degree and of course the convenience of it.

Do you sometimes feel the urge to start collecting Commodore hardware and games or is it simply not an interest of yours?

Iopop: Yes, there is one Commodore related item I've always loved and that is the small cardboard tape boxes that came in the early 90s. Rainbow Islands, Batman, Super Wonderboy were releases in that box. One day I might take the plunge and hunt them all down.

Jeff: I think I would rather add other machines to my little collection if so, otherwise I still think I have enough C64 hardware.

Algorithm: It's not really an interest of mine, although I would not mind having one real C64 for final testing.

Are you collecting something else instead (stamps, old cars, vintage action figures or whatever)?

Iopop: Yes, I've been collecting lots of stuff. Stamps (when I was around 8 years old), records, movies, Sega GameGear games to name a few. Having an income and money over at the end of the month have been the enabler. The past few years I've realized it's more about the hunt than the end result. At least that is the thing with me. When I come to a certain point, take having most of the released records from a label and it's just about how much more money you want to spend to be complete, then everything becomes boring. For example I'll never start collecting comics, since I know that there's an unlimited amount of stuff to collect.

Jeff: No. I used to collect stamps as a kid, though.

Algorithm: No, I'm not collecting anything, although I do electronically collect files (ROMs, disk images, etc.).

I feel it's a bit harder to find common ground between the motives of the non-collectors, but their answers are interesting nonetheless. While Iopop have been in the loop collecting various stuff previously, Jeff seems to more or less lack the collector gene and is happy with just the bare necessities C64 wise, to be able to conduct his scene work in a proper way. Algorithm takes an even more extreme position by not owning any Commodore hardware at all, while still being very much active on the scene.

Now it's time to sum up this article! We've learned a few things about the psychology of collecting, and got some insights into the thoughts of various sceners regarding this subject. What is the importance of this knowledge? Beats me, really - but that doesn't mean it's not interesting! Psychology, while not an exact science by far, can be very intriguing and I kinda like probing minds. Perhaps I chose the wrong occupation?

Another thing, what is it with this stamp collecting? Jeff and Iopop did it as kids, and I must confess - so did I! I remember I thought it was really boring even back then, but I still painstakingly cut and de-glued stamps to put them into a binder. Once inserted into the binder, I never looked at them again.

However, there might have been a point to the stamp collecting after all. Some time later, I put my stamp de-glueing to use as I started my swapping days. Then again, eventually I actually had my mother to do most of the de-glueing for me. I have no idea how I managed to talk her into that...

I feel I've strayed too far from the original subject here, so I'd better end this article before it turns into something completely else. Thanks to the sceners above who gladly answered my questions!

TAPER/TRIAD

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