Does someone want old, functional computers to be used as props?
February 10, 2020 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Seeing Once Upon A Time In Hollywood got me thinking about how Tarantino and his production design team recreated late-60s California: dozens of vintage cars, billboards, household items, etc. All of this got me thinking about the (still working!) out-of-date computers I own, and wondering if a movie prop house or someplace similar would be interested.

Off the top of my head I know I still have at least four machines that still boot up:

A G3 "bubble" style iMac, blue plastic, running some early flavor of OS X. It has its own circular mouse, and also a matching iOmega Zip drive.

A G5 iMac from 2004, with the built in Superdrive.

A Pentium tower from the late-to-mid 90s, which boasted 3.5 inch and 5.25 inch floppy drives, a CD-ROM drive, and IIRC booted up in Windows 98.

And the oldest, an early 90s Compaq laptop. Don't recall the moddle but it's brown and somewhat clamshell shaped, with a built in trackball in the middle. I believe it was running Windows 3.1 but it's been at least 6 years since I checked. (But it's sat undisturbed an a shelf since then.)

They're useless to the modern day computer user, but is there a way for me to inquire with hobbyists, collectors, or prop-department shoppers to see if they're interested?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
To be completely honest, they're probably trash. Those are a bit too new to really be collector's items, and too old to be safe to use on the internet. So donating to a charitable organization is probably also no good.

You're not alone in having a bunch of old junk computers. I have a storage room full of them that I keep meaning to securely wipe and bring to a recycling event..
posted by jozxyqk at 7:54 AM on February 10 [4 favorites]


This is a great question. I have a ton of stuff that are more-or-less worthless, but are of sufficient age to serve as highly-identifiable, period-correct props. But, I have no idea how to get them in the right hands (or, if a prop house would actually want them.)
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 AM on February 10


If nothing else, don't trash the 5.25" floppy drive or its cable - they're useful for people restoring older machines, and they're starting to go for reasonable prices on eBay now (especially if it's a good brand).
posted by offog at 8:43 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


I do not know the answer to your question, but this handy internet list of prop houses theacme.com may yield a lead, if you are willing to cold-call?

My other thought is that an eBay listing with keywords and description slanted toward their prop-worthiness could bring production people sourcing for such projects to you. Good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:51 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I'd check on /r/vintagecomputing. One of the better subreddits imho.
posted by General Malaise at 9:01 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Mr. BlahLaLa is a lifelong Hollywood propman, and after 40+ years working in production he now works at one of the major prop houses in town (one of the ones on the list cited by Rube R. Nekker above). His answer: yes, they're needed occasionally...but also they're basically a dime a dozen right now. If you live in LA and you feel like taking on a project, sure, call those prop houses and ask if they want to buy your stuff. If you're outside LA, it's definitely not worth pursuing because shipping them in will negate any money you might earn.

Prop houses, even the biggest ones, are limited in what they have space for. So yes, ebay, etsy, science surplus places and the like are often a source when production designers/props/set dressing and the associated shoppers need period stuff.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:16 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Just give them to goodwill and they’ll recycle them for you, or wipe/remove and destroy the hard drives and give them away on Facebook or craigslist. There’s some minimal prop demand but when they need this sort of thing they’ll just grab it on eBay or wherever.
posted by Slinga at 10:04 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I'm going to go with team just recycle them unless you're local to LA. But you might find this article interesting on finding props for Stanger Things.
posted by Candleman at 10:31 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I see from your past questions that you're in NYC. The Lower East Side Ecology Center takes used electronics at the Gowanus E-Waste Center, and if they're in decent condition they may make it to their prop library.
posted by Fuego at 11:21 AM on February 10 [5 favorites]


There's a fellow who makes aquariums out of the candy colored iMacs and they are gorgeous and he sells DIY kits. iMacAquariums. Deeply envious.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:58 PM on February 10


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