September 4 marks 25 years since the founding of Google in a garage in California. And on September 12, it will be 65 years to the day since Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments demonstrated the world’s first integrated circuit.
Technology now has history, nostalgia and rarity on its side, and is gradually fermenting into a highly active and profitable collecting market.
Retro Tech is expected to have a market base worth $51.7 billion by 2026 – almost equalling the value of the entire global art market, so now is the time to search through the attic and the back of your home office drawers for all your old iPhones, Tamagotchis, Walkmans and early Apple computers. Even basic handheld calculators from the late 1970s are doing well, while one of the most popular models in the retro world of mobile phones is the basic Nokia 3210 from 1999.
Institutions such as the Science Museum in London have started to trace the history of Apple products, from the 1984 pre-production model, Mouse for Apple Macintosh, through the 1993 Apple Newton MessagePad, the 1998 iMac G3 to the 2003 Apple iPod and the 2007 iPhone launch to the 2010 iPad.
The Science Museum has them all and provides a fascinating study of the development of technology and its association to social development over the past 30 years and more.
If this is the attitude that the Science Museum has to these objects – presenting them as museum exhibits – then you can be sure that they will also increasingly make their impact on the world of collecting in years to come. Millions of iPhones may be circulating the globe as we speak, but as they get updated and the defunct ones disappear, eventually only a limited number will be left to become sought-after collectables. The development of mobile phone technology, as they morphed into handheld computers, thereby changing the way the world communicates and interacts socially, has been the biggest game changer of all. Expect it to be a major force at auction as a whole new niche collecting area develops in the future.