Tech products can simplify and improve many aspects of your life, but they don’t tend to last very long. Most computers last only a few years before they start slowing down and need to be replaced. When’s the last time you used an iPod? Or a calculator that wasn’t an app on your phone? The lifespan of most tech products is short, with some exceptions. But if you hold onto them once they’ve lost their utility, you just might find yourself with a valuable piece of hardware on your hands.
1. First generation iPhone – $1,500 unopened
Apple’s first iPhone, which launched in 2007, is worth a bunch of money today — assuming you never took it out of its packaging. Not many years have passed since it came out, but this thing seems positively ancient by today’s standards. It started out at 4GB of memory, connected to the internet at 2G speeds, only worked on AT&T, and didn’t even have an app store. Compare that to today’s top-of-the-line iPhone, and you probably wouldn’t want to take it out of the box anyway.
2. MITS Altair 8800 – $5,000
Generally considered to be the first personal computer, the Altair 8800 was introduced in 1975 and sold to thousands of computer hobbyists. It’s the computer that gave Microsoft its start, when founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen created a BASIC interpreter for the machine, which MITS sold as Altair BASIC. Thanks to the Altair 8800, Microsoft was born and the personal computer revolution had begun. Not bad for a box with switches and flashing lights.
3. Hewlett-Packard HP–01 – $1,500
Combining multiple pieces of technology into a single device has resulted in many useful products. One of the most valuable is the HP–01, a device that was both a wristwatch and a calculator. Debuting in 1977, this super-powered watch could do a number of tasks, from telling time and calculating a tip to telling you what the day of the week any date between 1900 and 2099 fell on. Oddly, the buttons were sunken into the face of the watch, so it was easier to use with a stylus.
4. Apple Lisa – $10,000
One of the first computers in the world to sport a graphical user interface, the Lisa made its debut in 1983 — a year before the much more successful Macintosh. Only about 100,000 units of the Lisa were ever sold, probably because it cost nearly $10,000 and wasn’t the most reliable piece of hardware on the market. But it helped pave the way for whatever device you’re reading this on, so it’s an important piece of tech history. And while its value might have dropped over the years due to inflation, the selling price has remained the same, which is a lot more than you can say for most old pieces of tech.
5. Nintendo Entertainment System – $150
This gray box was ubiquitous in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but most of them either stopped working or were sold at garage sales. Today you can buy a complete set, with two controllers, a light gun, and Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt on eBay for about $150. Most of the ones that work these days have had their 72-pin connector replaced. That’s the piece that stopped working due to a design flaw with the way you load cartridges into the system.
6. Sony Walkman TPS-L2 – $300
The phone in your pocket has a direct lineage to this gadget, the first affordable portable music player ever produced. Launched in the U.S. in 1980, the Walkman freed people from their stereos and let them listen to cassettes wherever they went. It wouldn’t gain huge popularity until Sony introduced the Walkman II, but if you have one of the originals lying around, you can sell it for a few hundred dollars.