Retrocomputing, the hobby is called, is hardly just a way to pass the time. Instead, as enthusiasts see it, it’s a means of communing with the past. “You get into this mind-set of what it must’ve been like to be somebody in the late ’70s, having spent thousands of dollars on this thing that barely does anything more than a calculator,” said Clint Basinger, 34, who runs the YouTube channel Lazy Game Reviews. (The devices do allow retrocomputers to make art and music using software unavailable on new computers and to play 8-bit games, but not much else beyond that.) “It’s like a time machine to me,” Mr. Basinger added. Before the pandemic, there were several vintage computing conventions located around the United States, to which collectors brought their computers to show off. Attendees bought and traded hardware at these events, as well as meet the friends they’ve made online.
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