These are fairly rare. Most were bought by small and medium businesses. At that time performance of machines and capacities of memory and drives doubled fairly quickly, and so 5 years in service most would have been changed out for faster more capable models.
Due to them being used in business the decommissioned ones were likely scrapped / recycled because by 2000 everyone wanted their computers for internet use, and these were just on the edge of usability so few would have been retained for that purpose (unlike business machines in the early 90s that still had a use 5 years after as a home computer).
As well, Apple didn’t do very well with their Workgroup servers and so few were made in comparison to consumer machines.
As a Mac they’re collectible by vintage Mac collectors in general, but the niche of Server collectors is very small. There are collectors of just server hardware but their group size is small in comparison to general Mac collectors. However, there are likely more collectors for these Workgroup servers than the original market size of server customers, so demand of working models outpaces the number of surviving machines in the marketplace (thus creating a price premium for most models).
The models that are worth the most are the WGS95 (with PDS card) and the 9150 (due to its unique case design).
With these PowerPC models, Apple shipped standard Mac OS with them, with a bundle of apps for small and medium business.
For the 68k servers, Apple shipped A/UX on some of them, which made it into larger institutions. Those have a lower survival rate as most people in those institutions would have thought them completely obsolete by 2000 and employees in those places likely didn’t have the opportunity to take machines home when they were being phased out. A small business likely would have allowed machines to go home to employees.
Well done @robin-fo! I'll be getting a Quadra 840av from the same seller in St. Gallen in a fortnight's time.
Did you get to see the rest of his collection?
As applies to all cases of the Quadra 800 family, be very careful when opening it up. The plastics are very fragile as my 2x PM8110s can attest.
You have a system 7 machine that can benefit from much later hardware, especially a SIL3112 SATA card (or a U160 SCSI card), a gigabit ethernet card, an ATI Radeon 7000 or a combo USB-FW card. Just be sure that you don't flood the PCI bus with too much data.
congratulations on this find! AWGSes are a neat peek into Apple's corporate psyche in the '90s -- one component of a bigger picture of "we need to build everything any mac user might want" and a part of that was servers. They were mostly aimed at workgroups/departmental usage or being aimed at specific tasks.
AWGSes are uncommon compared to their "desktop" macs but for the most part, they're identical.
The 8550 is, as far as I know, the third time an AWGS differed from the base machine.
AWGS95 (only model ever to ship with A/UX, had the PDS cache/scsi card available, otherwise identical to the Quadra 950)
AWGS9150 (there was no PowerMac 9100)
AWGS8550 -- if I remember right, these don't share the 8500's A/V ports, however the underlying circuitry is there on the motherboard. (I was actually surprised when I discovered this, it was like... under 2-3 years ago.)
(user-configurable specs can also differ, some AWGSes had higher base RAM allocations or bigger base disks.)
There was a rumor long ago that the AWGS either 60 or 6150 had better SCSI but as far as I know, that has never been substantiated.
W/re the software: up through to the 7250/7350/9650 in 1997, the AWGSes had a few different software bundles available. Sometimes they included AppleShare, sometimes it was the same base system 7 load-out the desktops had, the idea being that you would install your own server software on it, whatever that happened to be. (And there was plenty of different options for all sorts of different tasks.)
As far as I know, the Beige PowerMac G3 AWGS is the first generation where the base software loadout included appleshare on all shipped examples. (At least until Apple started bundling them with Mac OS X Server.)
The other half of "there aren't that many AWGSes" is that lots of people bought non-AWGS Macs to do their services. My PowerMac 7300, as just one example, came from a regional CLEC telco/ISP and had worked as a mail server, but it's a regular 7300, not a 7350.
I was a bit disappointed about the performance of the SCSI disk it came with (which also gets hot when running for some time – does it need lubrication ??). So I installed a BlueSCSI which turned out to be unreliable (it worked fine in my Q700 before). The only apparent solution left to me was to follow @ArmorAlley 's suggestion to install a SATA card… I therefore bought this excellent PCI card from Ebay. Apparently it pretends to be a SCSI controller and it therefore works out of the box with any (??) PCI PowerMac. The choice of SATA drive wasn't very difficult as I had a spare 2.5" drive I used in my MacBook Pro 6,2 for some time.
Imagine wiping Catalina from a 1 TB APFS formatted disk to install System 7.5 on it!!!
My WGS now runs System 7.5.2, System 7.6, Mac OS 8.6 and Mac OS 9.1 from different partitions; the rest of the disk is partitioned into 256GB HFS+ volumes for data storage. It now feels rather like a iMac G4 in terms of speed!
Bummer to hear about the BlueScsi, but great to hear about the SATA card -- I think you landed on a better solution overall. It'll be faster and there'll be less errata than on any of the SCSI replacers.
Depending on parts availability and the need for the absolute tiptop performance, I also recommend SCSI2SD v6 for this class of machine. They're typically ~3-5x as fast as all the other/slower SCSI replacers and can nearly max out the "fast" 10MB/sec bus on this class of machine. My 8600/300 runs 9.1 great in that setup.