Portable Retro Tech That Changed The Industry

Whether collecting for investment or fun, here are some Retro Tech items that are a blast to own

Bringing back vintage is nothing new. It happens when folks who are old enough to develop nostalgia for certain items become imbued with the buying power to create a market. Technology is no exception, though with the explosion of new tech related to computers, the market for Retro Tech is new and ever expanding.

There are multiple reasons for this; historical value, scarcity of operable units, and they are just plain neat to own and use. I am an avid user and collector of Retro Tech. I have put my 2009 aluminum body MacBook on steroids to keep it chugging along and I love my 3rd generation iPod touch. There are many a dimly remembered fun night that now reside only on the Polaroids taken that night. It is a testament to technology’s evolution that such items can still function effectively long past their shelf life. If you are looking for Retro Tech investments to make money in the burgeoning market, here are some suggestions. Not all of these are money makers, but all of them are neat and some can fetch some pretty serious cash on the open market.

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iPhone 1

I know what you’re thinking, iPhones are everywhere and current, there’s nothing retro about them. This is a throwback to the first generation of iPhones. What makes this a collectible is that no one knew just how popular and ubiquitous the iPhone would become. It was a masterful breakthrough for its time, propelling the world into the age of handheld supercomputers. If you’re able to get your hands on the first generation, it can fetch a heft sum on the collectors market. It is abnormal for an item to reach such status so quickly, but judging from how smartphones have so completely infiltrated society it is hardly a surprise. As with any “new” retro item, the real value lies in finding iPhones new in the box as they lose most value once opened. An unopened, new in the box 1st generation iPhone can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars on the collectible market and should continue to accrue value.

1st Generation iPhones on Ebay


Gameboys of all stripes can be considered collectibles, whether it be the Gameboy Advance or DS, but I’m going way back to the original monochrome monolith. Original Gameboys were heavy, awkward, and amazing. It was the first portable handheld gaming system that allowed for easy game interchangeability. The other handhelds of the time were oriented around a single game built onto a circuit board and that was your option. These relics have value as well, but are nowhere near as desirable as the original Gameboy. It ate AA batteries like a hungry, hungry hippo, but with a slate of great games it was well worth having. Wario World was a fantastic game and Tetris is eternal. Now a functioning Gameboy can fetch a hefty sum on the auction market as vintage video games continue to swell in popularity. If you can find one new in box, you could easily be looking at a couple hundred dollars for it.

Original Gameboy on Ebay

Sony Walkman

There have been many iterations of the Walkman. Children of the 90’s grew up with the CD Walkman, but we are going to go further back to the first generation of this beloved portable retro tech. Cassette tapes are damn near indestructible unless subjected to high heat, or cruelly unraveled by some overly aggressive tape player. This is why the Sony Walkman was such a great piece of portable technology. The long battery life and the newfound freedom of being able to listen your music while on a walk was a breath of fresh air. This is taken for granted in the era of ear buds, but at the time it was an amazing innovation. The 1st generation Sony Walkman can fetch some good money on the collectors market as long as its operational or new in the box.

Sony Walkman on eBay

Polaroid Camera

The original selfie took place on a Polaroid camera. Any outing with friends was always kicked up a notch when you had the ability to take memorable photos developed on the spot. The film cost an arm and a leg, but it was always worth it to be able to capture moments on the fly. The added benefit of having that physical photo instantaneously is hard to measure in today’s world of digital imagery. During a time when 24 hour turn around was fast for traditional film development, the Polaroid was quite the development. These have made a comeback for the digital age but there is something to be said about getting your hands on the original. Film for it is another thing altogether as it was expensive when the camera was in regular production. The energy for the taking of the photo was contained within each photo sheet, so they had to be stored in a climate controlled area as to not lose charge. An original Polaroid is a fun and practical collectible that can fetch modest money on the open market.

Polaroid cameras on eBay


Tamagotchi is among those retro items enjoying a modern resurgence. Allowing kids to enjoy the benefits of a digital pet without the poop of a real one was one of the main benefits of this handheld. Before cellphones it was also one of the first pieces of technology to provide an interactive handheld experience. Sure there were games, but this was different than just a game. Your digital pet was needy and if you did not attend to those needs, then your Tamagotchi would surely perish. It taught responsibility to an extent, except that in real life you can’t just start a new game. Regardless, when it came onto the scene it ushered in a whole new concept of what technology could accomplish and facilitated the blending of technology and everyday life. With the resurgence seen recently, there is value to be had in getting your hands on the original digital pet.

Tamagotchi on eBay

Retro Tech is not going anywhere. As technology evolves, there will be more milestones that will become collectibles later on. Growing up in the 90’s, I never would have imagined that my Super Nintendo would be able to generate the type of money the market now supports. But as they say, all things old can be made new again!


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