Getting harder to find software on eBay?

I don't know. Is it just my imagination, or is it getting harder to find vintage 5.25" floppy era IBM PC software on eBay?

It stands to reason. Most vintage computing stuff either is in the hands of active collectors, or is found in estate sales when somebody dies.

Might see a burst of eBay activity when a collector gets out of the hobby or wants to offload excess. But too often the stuff just goes in the trash when somebody dies. It really bugs me to think some collector out there is just sitting on a pile of rotting uncarchived software out of some pedantic fear of what Mickey Mouse(R)(TM) might do to them in their sleep.

After all these years of scouring eBay, I've probably developed a bit of tunnel vision. And an empty wallet.

I really hope people are reading the "seen on ebay" threads by both myself and IBMPC5150. If YOU see anything interesting on eBay or other sources, PLEASE chime in!

I also hope that once and a while someone buys something and has it preserved. Even if you don't feel comfortable with Winworld, fine, send it up to, Vetusware, or BetaArchive. (If you put it on, perhaps drop us a line so we can see it, it is hard to find things on that site)

By my estimations, by now there is a lot of early PC (or other platform) software that simply no longer exists.


  • Very much so. Even something like Windows 3.0 which they made millions of them, is getting scarce with maybe 5-10 listings... MS-DOS software in general is getting hard to find, or even early Windows software. It took me well over a year to find SimCity for Windows 3.0! Oddly enough the less successful SimEarth for Windows 3.0 was trivial to find.

  • edited June 2018

    I'd say a fair bit of those collectors either A) Don't realize sites exist to archive the software or B ) just don't have the time to archive it. I'd say B is probably the most likely.

  • There's always Amazon to have a look about in for that sort of thing, if that helps.

  • It has always been a pain to find one-off listings on Amazon. The site is littered with “out of stock” pages that never go away.

    Is there any good way to just search for Vinage Computing items?

  • I follow your threads pretty regularly.
    It was from one of your posts that I purchased FilePro v3.00 by Small Computer Company (Tandy 25-1903).

    The Small Computer Company also developed Profile Plus for the Radio Shack Model II, which I used a great deal. So I was really interested to see how FilePro compared to RS Profile Plus. This was a sealed package with (4) 360k and (2) 720k disk sets, so it looked to be a viable program source.

    Unfortunately, I could not read all the disks. The disks were from 1992.
    Generally, I have had no problem reading disks from this era.
    However, after successfully reading the 360k disk1 and disk2, I could not read disk3 or disk4.
    I could not read either 720k disk.

    So I ended up NOT being able to archive a complete working disk set.
    The worst part is that the disks GUNKED up both my 3.5 and 5.25 FDDs.
    So I am really disappointed. I was able to clean the FDDs, but I did not attempt to re-read the disks.

    In most cases, I would be able to find images for the disks somewhere on the internet.
    But this program seems to be quite rare and I have been unable to find anything.

    So, is this a lost cause. Maybe someone here can attempt to salvage the files on the disks???

  • Sorry to hear about those disks. I have had some success getting a good read from a 5.25” disk after it looked like it got scratched up and gunked up a drive, basically after thoroughly washing out the disk with water and cleaning the drive head it was able to read the disk after some retries. So there is a chance, but it may not work depending on how bad it was really damaged. And I’ve never had much success recovering damaged 3.5” disks – those can’t be cleaned out as easily.

    I’ve gotten in the habit of almost always washing out 5.25” floppy disks before even trying to use them. Based on numerous comparative experiments, this very much reduces the amount of damage typical disks will experience after spinning up for the first time after all those years.

    I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial, but basically just run hot (no hotter than you can touch) water through the opening around the hub, left then right side, then flip it over and left and right again. If one is careful the can avoid getting the label wet (but scan it before washing just in case). The hard part is drying. Use a couple of q-tips to gently prop jacket hub up and put it in front of a fan in a dry place. Adjust the q-tips periodically to try and keep the jacket liner from sticking to the cookie. Do not put the disk in a drive while it is still damp. When dry you should be able to turn the cookie manually and no wet spots should appear in the opening. If you see sort of a hash pattern on the cookie then the jacket liner probably stuck to it.

    3.5” disks are a different problem as you usually have to crack open the hard plastic jacket in order to dry it.

  • @BlueSun said:
    I'd say a fair bit of those collectors either A) Don't realize sites exist to archive the software or B ) just don't have the time to archive it. I'd say B is probably the most likely.

    Sadly, time really is a factor. I've probably sunk way more time in to archiving than I should have (HEEEELP, I'm addicted!). Time is even more of a problem if you want it done RIGHT. On the surface just plopping a disk in to a drive and reading it in seems simple, but dealing with copy protection, oddball disk formats, flaky media, box scans, media scans, manual scans, making PDFs, researching and writing up a brief history, organizing everything in to archives, uploading over slow DSL, entering release data in to a database, all takes time.

    I really need to break this habit! Eh, who am I kidding.. (heads off to eBay :P )

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