A photo of one of the first Macintosh computers.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Since Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder, passed away in 2011, vintage Macintosh products are seeing a resurgence in popularity. This is great news for those of you who decided to keep your old Mac products, as they’re fetching a pretty penny on many websites.

Old computers are now hot collectibles, and so are the items associated with them. The vintage computer market appears to be a loosely organized affair, at least for now; however, many buyers and sellers are finding each other on marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, specialty websites, and even vintage computer festivals.

So what’s with the hype around vintage Apple computers?

A computer qualifies as vintage if it was made at least a decade ago. Like any other collectible, what makes a computer worth its plastic are its condition, rarity, and provenance. Collectors agree that older computers have more character than the machines we use today.

Apple I, the original Apple Computer, is considered one of the most valuable and rare computers in the world. Only 575 units were ever sold. Today, only 61 are confirmed to exist, with only six that are actually functional. An Apple I sold at an auction for $390,000 in 2013.

You might make the assumption that computer collectors are all male computer programmers. However, only about half of them are “power users” in the tech industry. Apple enthusiasts, designers, and hardcore fans in general have joined the ranks of dedicated expert collectors.

“I try to collect multiple products and then pick the best one of them to display. I still keep the lesser examples, as they can go to teaching purposes, such as an educational program that goes with a university or museum,” said philanthropist and industrial design collector George Kravis.

Some of the most avid computer collectors are people who lusted over computers at a young age. Many are in their 50s and 60s, and they’re eager to revisit the nostalgic tech tools of their youth.

“We were kids, and now we’re grown up, and we can go get it and relive those times. I’m already excited to see high school kids point at a 456 and say, ‘Wow, retro,’” said computer historian Evan Koblentz.

More modern collectibles include early generations of the iPod, iPhone, digital cameras, televisions, and more.

What’s the most prized item in your collection?