Other than looking pretty cool, what's the purpose of vintage electronics? I get that some things such as oscilloscopes can work pretty well as analog, but why do people bother salvaing vintage components?
Is there ever a situation where vintage stuff > modern stuff? It's difficult to image given Moore's law has not only advanced most tech but inherently reduced its pricing too.
The value is often historical, not performance. Vintage electronics can mark an important transition in culture, like the first transistor radio, which really ushered in the era of personal electronics. Or the early Tektronix scopes that mark technical break-throughs (built-in time base, modular design) that changed the ways engineers work. There is also the nostalgia factor for the "good old days," when everything could be fixed with a Simpson meter and a tube tester. In the case of audio equipment, the sound produced by early electronic systems is different than what is produced by solid-state equipment, so if you want to hear the music they way it was orignally heard (and the way artists expected it to be heard), you have to use a vintage system. That's also true if you want to produce vintage sounds, like early electronic organs and other instruments.
As to actual components, such as early ICs and vacuum tubes, it is often the case that they are no longer manufactured, and if you need one for a repair, you have to search for a source. This can make them valuable.
You are right in that most instruments made and sold today perform better than those that were made in the past. But until recently, it would have been impossible to find a new curve tracer, and so the old ones were still widely used in some places. (Keithley recently changed that with the introduction of it's Parametric Curve Tracer system.) Having a tool whose results you can trust and that provides the accuracy you need is valuable. So a lot of old, reliable equipment is still in use.
Message was edited by: Richard_Comerford_Editor_Electronic_Products
I'm not so sure about test equipment, but when it comes to audio gear, in many cases the build quality is vastly superior to what is marketed today. Matching that kind of build quality today is very expensive, so many folks opt to have a vintage piece restored and end up with better equipment for less $.
As Richard and Speaker point out, part of the reason is nostalgia. You don't think analog oscilloscopes looks pretty damn cool?
Hey guys -- One thing that I've not seen so far is the answer: "Because vintage electronics "still work" and they have "great value". Electricity is still electricity - the principles have not changed!!
BTW, a few weeks ago I was touring an antique shop, being lead by my wife, and I spotted an 'old' Simpson Model 260 analogue volt-ohm-milliameter. I dialed it to read resistance... crossed the test leads, and I was suprised that it showed "0" ohms and the meter moved smoothly. Hmmmm ... the thing still worked!!! Well, for ten bucks I have a new addition to the work bench. And, it brings back pleasant memories of my college education from the mid-sixties, too!!
So, keep your eyes open for old, but useful, instruments!