Every old video game console dies eventually. Moving parts seize-up, circuit boards fail, cables wear out. If a user needs a replacement connector, chip, ribbon, gear, shell—or any of the thousands of other parts that, in time, can break, melt, discolor, delaminate, or explode—they’re usually out of luck, unless they have a spare system to scavenge.
But there is an exception to this depressing law of nature. In San Jose, on a side street next to a highway off-ramp, inside an unmarked warehouse building, is part of the world’s largest remaining collection of factory-original replacement Atari parts — a veritable fountain of youth for aging equipment from the dawn of the home computing and video gaming era. This is the home of Best Electronics, a mail-order business that has been selling Atari goods continuously for almost four decades.
But if you’d like to share in Best’s bounty, as many die-hard Atari fans desperately do, there’s a very important piece of advice you need to keep in mind: whatever you do, don’t piss off Bradley.
I love this story. There’s a lot you can say about having one person dictate nebulous terms like this, but we’re not talking a primary, secondary, or even tertiary life need here. It’s his way, or the high way, and I like that, in a romantic, old-timey kind of way. His website is glorious, the outdated catalog that is entirely outdated unless you combine it with decades of online updates – it’s almost mythical, a modern fairy tale.
Bradley seems welded to an old school boutique service kind of model. It’s little different from one company in Monaco selling high end tableware and accessories to wealthy yacht owners. I’m guessing he’s tetchy because he’s an old man and takes his business personally. The woman who owns and runs the tableware company is much more friendly and forgiving but the value of orders placed and “don’t care about the expense” reliability of her clients more than compensates. There’s a cheese shop in Paris which sells to the presidential palace which is somewhere in the middle. One of the women there does fuss a bit but she does know her cheese and if she says she is selling you her very best you can guarentee it is the best and the order will be complete and ready for delivery on the exact second she promised and people do place a premium on this.
We all know someone like Bradley, in one field of electronics or another.
On another note, anyone interested in treasure troves of old redundant home computers and consoles might enjoy the closest equivalent I know of in the UK, CJE Micros. No tales of grump and damaged pride, I think, but a hell of a catalogue of Acorn things. No, I’m not being paid by them, I just think its fun to browse these old sites that look like business first, mod-cons like CSS later.
There is being someone who values his time, and there is being a grumpy dick.
He’s both and that is not a compliment.