I recently sold a defective Amiga 1000 on Ebay for over $300. I'm going to list my old Amiga 1200 and expect to get over $1000 for it since its working and "souped up". This made me wonder: Besides pure nostalgia, what are people using Amigas for today? In its day it was unbeatable but the CGI I managed to create on a Windows 10 computer now makes anything I did with the Amiga 30 years ago seem laughable. I respect my buyers privacy and am reluctant to ask them.
I think your expectation of the price you might get is wildly overoptimistic.
The A1000 was an unusual machine, the first model in a new range. It did not sell in very high numbers and was discontinued in 1987 after just two years on the market.
The A1200 was a fairly common high-end home computer, stayed in production for over four years, from Commodore then from Escom. It went off sale in 1996, nearly a decade more recently. It's also much easier to expand -- for instance it accepts IDE hard disks (or CF cards) and PCMCIA cards directly.
An A1000 is more desirable to most collectors than an A1200, I would expect.
What do people use them for? Well, hardcore Amiga fans who did art and so forth on the machines probably kept theirs. Someone looking for one now is probably just a collector. Most collectors don't do anything with the machines: they clean them up and put them on a shelf. Maybe it might get tested then used to play a few games.
Your question seems to assume that there must be some practical need for owning a classic Amiga computer today, and that the price of the machine in the marketplace should be reflective of this practical need.
For practical use, the only technically sound cases are Amiga hardware development and Amiga emulator development.
New hardware releases occur periodically. Those who develop new Amiga hardware need an accurate test-bed, and that likely means acquiring a real Amiga. They at least need testers with access to Amigas to perform the testing.
In addition, for those involved in creating either a hardware (e.g. FPGA) or software emulation for the Amiga, the only definitive test of the emulation accuracy is to compare it with the behavior of the actual hardware. For this reason, emulation development benefits from being able to conduct such testing, and those developers have a practical need for the classic hardware.
Those developing games or other content (new releases still occur regularly) may desire to test or enjoy their creations on an actual Amiga. This because they are "enthusiasts" who want to capture an "authentic" experience. The authenticity of using the original hardware is not easily replicated through emulation. But, this content is still quite functional in an emulator, and that is enough for many of the creators.
So, practical use-cases for a classic Amiga are quite "niche". As @Raffzahn noted, those really needing an Amiga for development reasons probably already have one or more. This puts them firmly in the group of "those not selling Amigas", rather than in the group that might be bidding on one for auction today.
The majority of those wanting to buy the machines are viewing them as collectibles, and for them the price is not related to the practical utility of the Amiga itself. Rather, the price is a function of the rarity and the importance attached to the item by the buyer. This is essentially what sets the prices for all collectibles.
Besides pure nostalgia, what are people using Amigas for today?
The same things I was using it for in 1997 - writing programs in 68k assembler, browsing the Net and downloading the latest stuff from Aminet, listening to music, playing games... You see, for me it's not nostalgia, it's just continuing to do what I have always done.
In its day it was unbeatable but the CGI I managed to create on a Windows 10 computer now makes anything I did with the Amiga 30 years ago seem laughable.
CGI was never my thing, so I have no need for the latest hardware. I don't even own a Windows 10 PC and probably never will (why pay for an OS you hate?). But what advantages does an ancient Amiga have for me over a modern PC?
I enjoy designing and building electronic devices, both for work and as a hobby. I want to know exactly what I am doing down to individual component level, which is practically impossible in a modern PC. The Amiga has relatively simple hardware and OS that is easy to poke around in. It can also be programmed 'bare metal' for games or hardware interfacing. I have 34 years of experience with it (and still learning!). At 63 years old there's no way I could get anywhere near that depth of knowledge on a modern PC, even if I wanted to.
For many of us who have owned an Amiga or still do, the scene is better today than it ever was. New hardware addons are being designed that take advantage of modern technology at very low cost. Now anybody can design a PCB and have it manufactured to professional standards, and even sell finished products on eBay for a small profit. There also several online shops that specialize in Amiga hardware.
On the software side, most titles are now abandonware that is free to download. The OS source code was leaked (for 'personal study' only!) and there is an open-source replacement. Cross development is much easier and cheaper now. New games are being produced that are showing what can be done when developers with real talent apply themselves (rather than just quickly porting stuff from other platforms), and games that never made it to the Amiga before are getting new life. The move towards open-source has also made it easier to keep up with modern standards, and official development of the OS was recently restarted.
An Amiga might not be the best computer for productivity today, but as entertainment it is still a good choice. Few would consider building and configuring a new PC to be anything but a chore, while tinkering with old computers is still fun. With Covid running rampant and many people having unexpected spare time on their hands, some are returning to hobbies like computing. That is why Amiga prices are going up.
I'm going to list my old Amiga 1200 and expect to get over $1000 for it since its working and "souped up".
Right now that price is probably a bit steep (unless it has an 060 or PPC accelerator in it), but leave it there long enough and you just might get a buyer eventually. Then again, you might change your mind and decide to keep it!
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