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sixers105

Are there any Macintosh vendors left?

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Pardon my ignorance, but are there any Macintosh vendors left here in the US? As in, vendors that have a warehouse full of "new old stock" computers, peripherals and accessories? I've been out of the Compact Mac scene for several years now while I've been dabbling in Atari (game consoles and computers) and have been amazed by a few original Atari vendors that are still out there, selling products at well below eBay value, which has saved me a ton over the past few years. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Almost certainly not. This kind of business has become more and more uncommon, even places with active foot traffic like Weird Stuff Warehouse (which dealt primarily in used goods, but) have had to close as the rents in the tech-centric neighborhoods they were located have risen. It's not only unprofitable but largely prohibitively expensive to operate this kind of thing in places where it would be relevant, and the bigger and more fragile something is, the less willing people are going to be to buy it on line and have it shipped. So, we probably shouldn't go in on a warehouse in Montana to store compacts and AIO LCs/Performas, unless everyone wants to drive.

 

The last one I happen to have known about was ShreveSystems and they were in the process of blowing out in the mid-2000s. It was around 2006 or so, at the low point of vintage Mac value, that the price on those LC580s they had for very nearly a full decade fell to like $39. 

 

Macs have always been kind of a hot commodity, so even if you had to reduce price, and even back when the sales channel was absolutely stuffed, so aside from a couple situations (such as the ShreveSystems LC580s) it wasn't too difficult for companies to get rid of them, so I'd be super surprised to hear about any such situation with Mac systems.

 

That said: Mac accessories and software sometimes sat for a while. We recently just had someone uncover a stock (albeit: small, under a couple dozen units) of unsold Mac-specific power strips, and I know that Re*PC in Seattle had an entire shelf of unsold copies of MacGlobe (1992) that were likely wildly out of date when I last visited before moving away in ~2002. (I don't remember seeing those in 2017 when I visted.)

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Apple basically quits making new machines way before a refresh so there is little supply around before a newer model comes out (if there is no supply you know a refresh is imminent). Anything leftover is kept for replacements or sold as refurbs. There is no dumping of thousands of machines like back in the 90's that fed third party liquidators. Supply chains are tight these days with little slack at all.

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Thanks for the info. I suppose Apple was smarter about production than Atari was. Smarter in a lot of ways, since they're still around as a company (in their original form)! There are three Atari vendors left and they have a TON of stuff; it's wild. 

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Atari vendors huh? Do any of them have Atari STs? Been having a hard time finding an Atari ST on eBay for less than $200.

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I recall a company that had replacement parts for ST machines (whole new case as an example), but none that had whole machine for cheaper then Ebay.

 

The days you could get Amiga and Atari ST machines cheap was something like 15 years ago.

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2 hours ago, EvieSigma said:

Atari vendors huh? Do any of them have Atari STs? Been having a hard time finding an Atari ST on eBay for less than $200.

Yeah, the two main vendors with a decent amount of hardware left are Best Electronics and B&C ComputerVisions, the latter of which also sells on eBay under the ID myatari. Best is more old-school when it comes to ordering and very quirky. I couldn't find more than accessories and upgrades for ST computers when searching both just now. That said, it can't hurt to email them, especially since neither have very good websites, and B&C doesn't update his inventory at all anymore, you have to email to ask. Video61 is another Atari vendor but they are mostly software these days.

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1 hour ago, Unknown_K said:

Apple basically quits making new machines way before a refresh so there is little supply around before a newer model comes out

This is only true for a handful of models in the '90s.

 

Historically, '80s and '90s Apple were INSANELY bad at supply chain and logistics. Horrifyingly so. This fact featured heavily in their annual report one or two years before they hired Cook and then Jobs returned, basically saying something to the effect of- they massively over-produced performas (probably why Shreve had that pile of 580s around "forever") and under-produced high end Power Macintoshes (in conjunction with selling Power Mac boards and parts to the cloners instead of building their own systems.)

 

Apple also historically had problems shipping the highest end of new machines upon announcement. (A lot of this problem was Iomega, but a few times it was due to DVD burner avalability, and a couple times it was due to actual CPU chip availability.)

 

The clearest example of having quit making new machines is the PowerBook 5300/1400/3400.

 

Apple basically stopped making the 5300, but, like, months ahead of the actual availability of the 1400. There were performas everywhere, but you couldn't buy a PowerPC laptop to save your life. Then, when the 1400 was finally launched, it ended up having to fill two or three roles at once until Apple launched the 3400.

 

Today, it's less that Apple stops making new machines way before a refresh and more that they stop accepting orders the morning a refresh is announced, and then switch over manufacturing.

 

Modern Apple is EXTREMELY good at supply chain and logistics. They pretty much don't keep computers "in stock" - certainly not more than, at most, a couple days or maybe a week of stock.

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4 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

Historically, '80s and '90s Apple were INSANELY bad at supply chain and logistics. Horrifyingly so. This fact featured heavily in their annual report one or two years before they hired Cook and then Jobs returned, basically saying something to the effect of- they massively over-produced performas (probably why Shreve had that pile of 580s around "forever") and under-produced high end Power Macintoshes (in conjunction with selling Power Mac boards and parts to the cloners instead of building their own systems.)

Oh interesting! So sounds like they weren't much better than Atari in that respect around the same timeframe. Which honestly does surprise me, then, that there aren't any vendors left of the 80s and 90s-era Macs. If Atari's got 'em, why not Apple? :-/

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39 minutes ago, sixers105 said:

If Atari's got 'em, why not Apple?

 

Macs were popular and well liked and the platform itself lasted a lot longer than any of Atari's platforms, meaning the demand for, say, a Mac Plus and relevant parts didn't die down the way the demand for, say, an Atari ST or an Atari 800 eventually did.

 

Models that were over-produced and got "stuck" in sales channels ultimately didn't sit there forever. Retailers don't like to keep stock. The retailers would have sent machines back to Apple to hold onto or would have marked them down as newer machines were announced. In late 1998 or early 1999 you could get really compelling deals on Power Macintosh 6500s and 9600s, for example, as both those models had been replaced. (I found a 9600/350 64/4/24x/zip for $1,599 alongside a G3/266 32/4 for $1,699, for example.) (Though, that specific example is a little bit out of the ordinary and I have no idea why that particular major reputable reseller was listing that machine so low. The 604ev looked bad in comparison to the G3, but not that bad, and the S900 was still selling in the $2,500+ range and was kind of accepted as the default "I need six slots and I'll accept the performance penalty" option, so a 9600/350 should have been able to demand a bit more.)

 

The other-other thing, here, that i suspect is that stock moved around. The big (US) names like MacZone, Mac Warehouse, and MacMall likely sold things to second-tier resellers like LA Computer Center and J&R Computer World at the end of their lives. (Unsure about MacWarehouse here though because their ads often featured older machines, either refurbs or new old stock at deep-ish discounts. In the super late '90s, for example, you could buy a PB520 from them for like $700, when even the 1400c/166 (after the MainStreet/Walstreet introduction) was still fetching around $1,300.

 

MacWorld was still reviewing brand new software in, like, 1994 or 1995 that should have run on an '000. (At absolute worst: It would have run on an '020 such as the original Mac II or an LC.)

 

To put it bluntly: Macs sold. The Atari stuff probably never sold "new" or even "second tier" when it was still current or almost current because as the platform/company died, people were just buying other computers instead.

 

2 hours ago, Unknown_K said:

I would think Apple drop ships most of their products

Pretty much. For at least the past decade for anything Apple is building at Quanta and Foxconn and the other manufacturers they use.

 

The "couple days" of stock that Apple has is whatever is sitting in their retail stores and perhaps a few of the base configurations.

 

I suspect most computer manufacturers are like this. It largely doesn't make sense to have warehouses full of finished, ready to ship computers, because you don't know that everyone is going to be ordering the stock configuration. (Having some of those is a good idea, and for manufacturers and products where the machines are more modular, it might make sense to have warehouses of semi-finished computers, but volumes are high enough, and lead times are short enough, even for something like the Mac Pro, that "your computer rolls down the line and a group of Texans or Minnesotans puts all the parts in it" doesn't really make sense any more.

 

 

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Apple has the highest inventory turnover in the computer hardware industry. Basically they move inventory to sales within two weeks. The metrics get hazier with iPhones/iPads. 

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2 hours ago, sixers105 said:

Which honestly does surprise me, then, that there aren't any vendors left of the 80s and 90s-era Macs. If Atari's got 'em, why not Apple? :-/

Apple put every VAR(?) and authorized repair shop out of business with mal aforethought (Tekserve held out until relatively recently) so there's nobody left with a "back room" of replacement parts, used or new.

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Apple has not discontinued the authorized service provider program: https://support.apple.com/en-lamr/aasp-program

 

It's more difficult for any rando to pop open a macbook and replace a simple part than it was ten years ago, but it's not impossible to have, as part of your business, selling or repairing Macs.

 

However, as far as I know, very few of those providers were generally in the business of selling parts on their own, outside of parts that were specifically packaged for retail sale.

 

The other thing is that any service provider other than one thatmoved to bigger stores progressively or just started with a really big warehouse wouldn't have room for more than a couple years' worth of mac service parts to be stored. Even ten years ago, the on-campus service center at my university generally had to order parts for systems that came in, which is probably more of a change in the way the AASP program worked, and the fact that that facility wasn't a warehouse dedicated to repairing Macs, but a repair basement or corner of the campus book store's computer center. (I brought my imac there for something once and they had to order its motherboard from Apple.)

 

The other-other thing is that (and, I don't know if TekServe was dealing in this market specifically) is that trade-in used Mac retailers isn't a business that makes sense any more. PowerMax seems to be dead or dying and the others from the days of the back of the MacWorld catalog are almost all entirely gone. Between eBay and craigslist it doesn't make sense to mail your Mac to Oregon or Louisiana as part of trading up to a slightly newer used machine, the way it probably did in the '90s.

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Apple pretty much has all their production tied up in China and shipping out of China is subsidized by the Chinese government (which is why things on ebay from China have cheap or no shipping). So I can see just custom making everything with cheap labor overseas until of course you have a tariff war and things go south.

 

The only time selling Apple inventory made sense was when production was in the US and venders had a decent discount to make a profit reselling. Those days died in the 90's which is why most computer shops went out of business and pretty much everything was made overseas since NAFTA.

 

The Amiga and especially the Atari ST were very popular in Europe where most were sold so any excess inventory would have been dumped there. 

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46 minutes ago, Unknown_K said:

Those days died in the 90's which is why most computer shops went out of business and pretty much everything was made overseas since NAFTA.

Ecommerce did more to kill the local computer shops than NAFTA which actually increased exports. The old business models were not tenable and manufactures skipped resellers and went direct to consumer. Let's not forget the 800 ton gorilla in the room... Amazon disrupted everything and continues to do so. Apple just saw the tea leaves before most and adapted their model in the late 90s. 

Edited by omidimo

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42 minutes ago, Unknown_K said:

and shipping out of China is subsidized by the Chinese government

I'm curious to hear more about that. That's not a detail I'd ever heard before.

 

I had kind of presumed that it wasn't much more expensive than US land shipping because, if you use the inexpensive routes, it legitimately isn't that much of an added cost, given how many things come across at once.

 

43 minutes ago, Unknown_K said:

The only time selling Apple inventory made sense was when production was in the US

I'm curious as to what you mean by this because to me I can't quite make this sentence fit.

 

Are you saying: The only time it made sense for Apple to fill up warehouses, or something else?

 

Before 1998 when the Power Macintosh G3 was introduced and Apple opened its own online store, all Macs were built to particular configurations. You couldn't custom order a Mac at all until then, so it made sense to build, say, a couple hundred thousand of each available configuration and stick them in a warehouse until people bought them. (In reality, this didn't actually make any sense and this, especially in the era when there were a dozen different store-specific variations of each performa, caused Apple a lot of problems)

 

It wasn't until the perform and powerpc eras that there were a bunch of different configurations for each amchine. I believe until the Performa 630 series launched, the machines with the most configuration options were, like, the IIfx and Quadra 900/950. The IIfx in particular had three configurations when I looked: 4/0, 4/80, and 4/160 with A/UX.

 

Also: Apple built the Mac Pro 6,1 (the just-outgoing model, from 2013) in the US and didn't stockpile warehouses of them.

 

50 minutes ago, Unknown_K said:

So I can see just custom making everything

You know... I wrote earlier that the early Dell/Gateway model of dalling someone on the phone, ordering a machine, and having someone hand-assemble it didn't make sense, but most of Apple's machines are, I'm about 99% certain, 100% machine-assembled. Hypothetically a computer-controlled assembly line could control the configuration of each machine based entirely on, essentially, which bits it solders onto the board.

 

Build-to-order models have always been built just-in-time, but as a way of simplifying that process, I can see why you'd want to just solder everything to the board, presuming that's easier than, say, having a robot plop a CPU in a socket or install cards. From an..... operations standpoint (i.e. Tim Cook's specialty, his literal job before Jobs kicked it) it makes perfect sense to retool your computer line-up to be easier for robots to assemble.

 

55 minutes ago, Unknown_K said:

pretty much everything was made overseas since NAFTA.

For what it's worth, NAFTA largely has no impact on US trade with, say, China, because, as the name (North American Free Trade Agreement) implies, it's an agreement only between the US, Canada, and Mexico. (Fun random fact: Interstate 11 that's coming together in California and Nevada is indirectly part of NAFTA.)

 

The US has historically had relatively favorable separate trade agreements with lots of different countries and groups of countries, though.

 

Manufacturing jobs leaving the US can be credited with any number of things. NAFTA is among them, but few if any at all tech manufacturing jobs have left the US, bound specifically for Canada or Mexico, so I don't think it's involved here, specifically.

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NAFTA opened the flood gates to having manufacturing leave the country. Once that got going companies started offshoring pretty much any major manufacturing. Along with manufacturing goes engineering or do you think the plants that make iPhones don't have their own engineers  and tech designing and setting up the machines and processes that build them.

 

As far as tech manufacturing I guess it depends on what you know about industry. The semiconductor was invented here in the US as well as all the processes used in making them. These days most of the companies involved in making chips are in Asia except for Intel and they are not doing too well. I don't mean just the chip making and packaging itself I mean the lithography equipment and misc support that goes along with it is done in Asia, I seen quite a few of the US equipment companies go bankrupt in the early 2000's. All the optical burners and HDs that used to be made here are also in Asia now. Even coding went to Idia a long time ago,

 

Once a company in China partners with a US firm (which has to give the new company its IP) the knowledge on how to build and design the product gets spread out to other Chinese companies that then compete with the US firms. 

 

Foxcon was a small motherboard manufacture that got lucky enough to get a contract to make Intel motherboards in 2001 (beating out Asus who used to make them). From there that company exploded and makes most of Apples gear in Asia (quite a bit of which is fully automated).  Now they make all kinds of tech gear and I don't mean just people slapping parts together. Pretty sure they do all the assembly for all the game consoles. I don't think companies like Apple can exist without companies like Foxcon. You cane move manufacturing out of China if needed, but without Foxcon you can't make anything.

 

 

 

 

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