My Retro is an auction website
dedicated to older retro and vintage electronics and
computers. The designers and creators of these original
machines could only have dreamed about the computing power
available to us today and the functionality afforded to us
via The Internet.
Here Digger talks to Rich Mellor, founder of Sell My
Retro, whose expertise and enthusiasm for these retro
machines has resulted in the creation of this targeted
auction website which brings together buyers and sellers
of retro computers, arcade games, calculators and
Digger: What is your background Rich and what are your retro
Rich: Although I have a varied business background, including
being a solicitor and programming auction websites, I have
been involved primarily with Sinclair computers since I
launched RWAP Software in 1986. Initially known for writing
reviews in Sinclair QL magazines and bug fixing third party
programs at the time, I have slowly evolved into an a full
time retro computer and electronics dealer, sourcing and
obtaining new and replacement parts, such as keyboard
membranes and chips for a wide range of vintage computers.
Recent years have seen us bring new products such as the
DivIDE Plus (for the ZX Spectrum) and ZXpand (for the ZX80 and
ZX81) to market, to help encourage development of new hardware
and software to help maintain interest in these much loved
computers, as they continue into their third decade.
Digger: And can you please tell
us how Sell My Retro started and how the company has evolved
into what it is today?
Rich: SellMyRetro was born out of a need to reduce my monthly
costs for selling - with around 65% of my sales going through
eBay, following their last rise to 10% final value fees, I was
paying over £150 per month in eBay fees. I therefore looked
for a strong platform on which to base my own auction website
(SellMyRetro.com) and chose the emerging Enuuk auction
platform in 2009, partly because I was able to write my own
improvements to the software. Since then, SellMyRetro has
continued to grow with over 1/2 million page views per month,
and it continues to be a vehicle for promotion of retro items,
with buyers secure in the knowledge that there is a
knowledgeable retro computer enthusiast behind the auction
Digger: Please tell us more
about the services on offer from Sell My Retro that bring
buyers and traders together.
Rich: As well as providing a general trading platform for both
fixed price and auction style items, SellMyRetro includes the
ability for traders to advertise their own retro websites free
of charge by opening a free store and linking it to a specific
category. Stores can then include links to their own sites.
Each category can also have a short wiki attached to provide
general background information on the items which tend to be
contained in that category, which can help both attract
traffic and also provide buyers with more information over the
types of products they may be interested in.
The site also includes a page which pulls in the latest hot
topics from retro based forums, helping buyers and sellers to
keep their finger on the pulse.
As well as providing its own forums, SellMyRetro is also
closely linked to social networking sites, posting details of
item listings to Facebook, Google Base and Twitter, as well as
providing RSS feeds which can be used to feed specialised
pages on Facebook. We are also respected members of several
retro forum sites, which we use to help promote the rarer
items to be found on Sell My Retro and have our own mailing
list of over 3000 retro computer users, gleaned from our
trading relationships over the past 25 years.
Digger: There’s nothing more nostalgic and retro than one of
these retro games and machines. Are they still relatively easy
Rich: Finding the retro computers is still fairly easy - the
problem is finding good working examples of the machines. Some
of the computers sold into the millions, whilst for others the
market was limited to a few hundred machines. As a result,
prices can vary from around £5-£10 at the bottom end of the
market (where people just want a machine to try out hardware
ideas) up to £1000s for the rare models. Software is also
still readily available from 99p upwards, with new titles
being created thanks to the availability of emulators and PC
tools, plus interfaces which mean memory cards can be used for
loading and saving games on the actual computers (rather than
having to rely on temperamental tape based media).
Digger: Why is vintage, retro
and nostalgia such a big thing in so many people's lives?
Rich: We all like to think back to earlier days, when (a) we
were younger and (b) you had a closer affinity to the products
you purchased. For example, many computer courses nowadays,
only teach you how to use the standard packages which you will
come across - without providing you with the tools and
knowledge as to how computers and electronics actually work at
a physical and electronic level. This pre-packaging of items
restrains true artistic flair and talents and in fact, many
people who learnt how to program computers (for example) now
use the same machines to teach children about how computers
and electronics work.
Digger: What are the best
sellers and what would be the Holy Grail as far as collectors
of retro gadgets and machines are concerned?
Rich: The best sellers have to generally be hardware - either
parts to keep existing machines going, or the rarer models of
machines (early issues or those which never made it past the
factory). Whilst one of the rarest vintage computers is the
Apple 1 computer, which sell for around $15,000 each and there
are only 40-50 machines in existence, computers from some of
the lesser known British computer firms which seemed to spring
up and disappear in a matter of weeks during the 1980s are
probably even rarer, with machines such as the Dragon
Professional, of which 3 computers are known to exist (it was
only ever a prototype computer). The Holy Grail is probably
one of the computers which were produced as a special one-off,
such as the white one-millionth Sinclair ZX Spectrum, or the
9ct Gold Sinclair QL made by London Jewellers Aspreys in 1985.
Digger: Where are your customers coming from and what customer
feedback/comments do you get?
Rich: Customers are from all over the world, with a large
concentration in western Europe. The majority of customers
tend to be middle aged, although there are a surprising number
of 20 somethings now taking up an interest in vintage
computing, reflecting their continued benefit as a learning
tool and incentive to create small projects. Customer feedback
tends to be very positive, with many people glad to be able to
breath life back into 20-30 year old machines and to reminisce
by playing games which use just a handful of colours, and do
not run at a rip-roaring pace.
Digger: What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of Sell
Rich: The close relationship you build up with the customers -
many of whom place repeat orders, or move onto expand their
collections and knowledge. Each day is different, as people
ask different questions and advice, and it is surprising what
some people find stored away in the back of their loft-space !
Digger: What are your plans for
Sell My Retro and the other strands of your business in the
Rich: We continue working closely with a range of
developers to bring new products to market to help provide
either replacement parts or new features for vintage
computers. The past 12 months has seen increased activity for
the Sinclair ZX81, with plenty of new software releases, as
well as the ZXpand SD card reader, and ZXpand AY sound
interface having been released. We are working on a simple
method for this to be ported across for use with the earlier
Sinclair ZX80 home computer. We also enjoy the challenge of
bringing these old machines back to life, and one of the major
projects over the past 12 months has been to get replacement
keyboard membranes manufactured here in the UK for a wider
range of computers (the Enterprise 64/128, the Cambridge Z88,
the Sam Coupé and ZX80 as well as our traditional product
lines), and it would be nice to extend this range of products
to encompass even more machines over the next 12 months.
We also continue to improve the software behind the
SellMyRetro.com website, taking account of new features in the
base software (Enuuk PHP Auction) and also incorporating our
own modifications, many of which are born out of the
independent forums which we set up to discuss this exciting
auction platform, and requests from users either using our own
website or intent on setting up their own auction sites.
Sell my retro is an auction website
dedicated to older retro and vintage electronics and
SellMyRetro.com is a new trading place to bring
enthusiasts and traders of retro computers, gaming
machines and other electronics equipment together in one
We all know how difficult it can be when searching in
Google to find which are live sites and which sites can
actually sell you equipment or undertake repairs, let
alone finding that elusive bit of rare hardware or
software. It can also be very useful for anyone looking
for props or old equipment for use in a museum or history
display, or even within television programmes and films.
SellMyRetro.com helps bring buyers and traders together,
by incorporating a dedicated auction website and a wiki to
hold background information on the retro computer scene.
Anyone can list
items in the dedicated categories, and traders can decide
to open a webstore. Webstores form a place for traders to
advertise their services and to form a web-presence, as
well as developing their brand.