It occurred to me that some of you might be wondering why, other than nostalgia, I'm trying to get all the G and D-series modules, especially since I no longer play AD&D. That's a good question and one I asked myself as I grabbed each one. I didn't take long to come up with an answer, though, and it's this: because they're classics. Now, "classic" is such a vague term and can be applied to almost anything simply by virtue of its being old. A lot of mediocre stuff from twenty or thirty years ago gets labeled "classic" now in an effort to make it saleable in the 21st century. But that's not what I mean in this case, because there are plenty of TSR-era modules that I'd never call "classic."
No, I call them "classic" because they're very good adventures, some of the best ever published for the game, and the foundations on which so much later was built, perhaps most importantly the shared memories of an entire generation of D&D players. I mean, here we are, in 2012, and I need only say "Eclavdra" or "King Snurre" to my fellow gamers and I'll get not merely displays of recognition but stories about their own characters' adventures fighting the giants and drow. Heck, the very fact that the drow remain one of the most iconic elements of D&D to this very day is proof of how seminal these modules were to the history of the game.
This, of course, brings me to a fundamental paradox of D&D fandom, especially on the old school side of things. On the one hand, many old schoolers instinctively poo-poo the idea of adventure modules, seeing them as, at best, pointless ("I can make up my own adventures") and, at worst, cynical ploys to make -- oh no! -- money ("Shouldn't you give this away?"). On the other hand, so much of the collective experience of early gaming is tied up in the fact that we all bought and played the same modules. Our shared history belies the claim that modules are a waste of money and that anyone who buys them is an unimaginative clod. Rather, modules played a very important role in shaping and promoting the game.
That brought me to a final thought, or actually a question: did later editions have classic adventures? When I think of 2e, for example, I think of settings, not adventures. But maybe there were classic adventures from that era, ones that were widely played and inspirational and I just missed them since I was increasingly disengaged from the game at that time. Now, I did play a fair bit of 3e prior to 2007, but I honestly can't remember any adventures of note for the game, with the possible exception of Green Ronin's Death in Freeport. I certainly can't recall any official WotC 3e modules being very good, let alone memorable, but maybe my impressions are skewed.