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joshc

Sales figures for compact Macs

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Does anyone know what kind of sales figures Apple acheived with the compact Macs in the end, from the original Mac up to the Color Classic?

 

I don't know if Apple ever made these sales figures public, but it'd be nice to know if they did, or if someone has some insider info on it.

 

Wikipedia has a small mention of early Mac sales, but I can't find anything relating to the 512K, Plus, SE, and so on:

Quote

At first, the Macintosh 128K suffered from a dearth of available software compared to IBM's PC, resulting in disappointing sales in 1984 and 1985. It took 74 days for 50,000 units to sell.

I imagine the Plus sold a lot of units, because it was in production for so long:

Quote

Although the Mac Plus would become overshadowed by two new Macs (the Macintosh SE and the Macintosh II) in March 1987, it remained in production as a cheaper alternative until the introduction of the Macintosh Classic on October 15, 1990. This made the Macintosh Plus the longest-produced Macintosh ever, having been on sale for 1,734 days, until the 2nd generation Mac Pro that was introduced on December 19, 2013, surpassed this record on September 18, 2018.

 

And why do I ask? Mainly curiosity for these types of things. It would be nice to know how rare the stuff we are collecting is, sometimes it's just hard to gauge really. Most models of Mac, even the original, seem to pop up on eBay quite often, so none of the compacts seem all that "rare" just yet (except perhaps the Color Classic II, and very specific versions of some of the models that were only sold in certain markets etc?).

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Found a little more info on this...

 

From Cult of Mac: https://www.cultofmac.com/479113/today-apple-history-first-100-days-mac-roaring-success/

Quote

Sales slowed, and Apple did not hit the 1 million Mac mark until March 1987. Far from a repeat of the Apple III failure, the Mac nevertheless became an early setback for the company.

 

Not sure how reliable this is, but it says:

Quote

The Macintosh 128K was sold about 70,000 times by May 1984

 

Still no closer to finding any sales figures for later compact models...

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Very interesting research. Having a handle. a very easily stored form factor and "my first computer" syndrome would likely be why so many Compacts have survived the way I see it. The things are easier to store and move from dwelling to dwelling than a bowling ball! Dearth of pre-ADB KBDS and Mice would be closely related.

 

Ran across a bit of loosely related info recently: Kanga: Intro. November 10, 1997  Disc. March 14, 1998  Would four months/four days be the shortest ever Mac production run?

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This is interesting, although even if we knew exact sales figures, it might be hard to gauge how that affects rarity today. A lot of people no doubt kept them even if they weren't used or didn't work because they are cute and iconic looking, while more plain PCs probably would have been tossed. But then again, a lot of them were probably sold to schools, who would not be as reluctant to trash them as someone who used it for years and had affection for it.

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Having entered the Apple world when compacts were still being sold, I can offer some insight, but no set figures.

 

We know about how many 128K/512K are out there given when the million mark was hit. The 512K was produced thereafter for a short time as the 512Ke (which really began in 1986) and actually continued into 1988 in some markets as the ED.

 

Pluses were very common, but few appear to have been produced in 1990. The majority of them were produced in the early years and many earlier Macs were upgraded to the Plus. The low price point is what attracted many late-80s customers to the machine in its later days. In the earlier days, it was the feature set. The "my first computer" syndrome arguably saved some Pluses, especially since many Plus users probably replaced them with something less iconic in the 90s (Mac or otherwise).

 

The SE is a dime a dozen and was produced into 1991 with SuperDrive badging. If the Plus was the budget model, the SE was the optimal model for black and white Macintosh computing. It had an internal hard drive or two floppy drives, and the lack of external peripherals (which could add up over time) led many to buy it instead. It also just looked and felt newer, so if the computers were side by side at the store, some would pony up the extra money for the SE.

 

Both the Plus and the SE (and the earlier models) suffered a lack of adoption in schools because of the abundance of Apple II educational software programs. Even the bigger players like MECC and Broderbund were late to the game with Mac versions. Carmen Sandiego didn't come out for the Mac until 1988, Number Munchers took until 1990, and Oregon Trail for Mac wasn't on the market until 1991. Macs started taking off around 1990-1991 in many schools, which explains the lack of Pluses in some areas and why the SE showed up more often sometimes. You're more likely to find the IIE or IIGS in school surplus from pre-1990.

 

Classics were cheap. A lot of them were sold in 1990 and 1991, but they started to lose ground to the LC, which was really the machine that got Macs on the map in the schools, in part because of its IIE compatibility, in part because it had color and was the optimal choice for the killer educational program of 1991, Kid Pix. Let's face it: Kid Pix was REVOLUTIONARY. It brought an exploratory learning experience to young computer users and was versatile enough to be used in a multitude of educational settings. This was also around the time Oregon Trail, Munchers, Carmen, Math Blaster, etc were all coming to the Mac or had just come to the Mac. Both the Classic and LC were selling at this point, but the LC seemed to have a huge edge despite its higher price point. It was also over twice as fast.

 

Just like there aren't many 1990 Pluses, there aren't many 1992 Classics. I've only seen a few, including one which was made in 1993 (it wasn't a US model; I believe it was somewhere in South America; keep in mind some non-US models were different with dates, like those rare Australian LC II units in the 475 case). There was also likely a big stock left from late 1991. The same is probably true of Pluses in 1989-1990.

 

The SE/30 had its niche market and actually wasn't as appreciated as it has become until it was discontinued. Sure, the Classic II was the budget machine of 1992, and plenty of them sold (though not as many as original Classics in 1991; again, blame the LC on the Mac side and the rise of cheap PC clones and easy-to-use DOS machines like the IBM PS/1, marketed towards home users), but the better bus of the SE/30 wasn't appreciated until the Classic II's shortcomings were noted. 

 

Color Classics weren't huge sellers. Blame the LC series again, as well as the 500 series (which was introduced a few months after the Color Classic, first for schools as the LC 520, then for homes in Performa 550 guise).

 

Let's not forget the Performa 200 here. I truly believe the reason there are so few of them is because they had people trained in retail sales selling them. They'd be more likely to upsell the 400 than a regular computer store.

 

(Side note: the Performa 200 had a cool 80MB IBM hard drive, not a Quantum...at least the one I have has one).

 

Next is the issue of retention of these systems. It was easy enough to use even the oldest compacts into 1996. I like to use that year as a benchmark since that's when 68000s were no longer on the market. Developers turned to the PowerPC, but started to eliminate the older machines from their system requirements. Pluses had been benchmarks for years, but in the mid-90s, the LC became the new benchmark, then the LC III, then the LC 475. 

 

Longtime collectors like many of us saved some of these computers in the late 90s and early 00s. There are still quite a few lurking in closets, some with their original owners. There are even occasional sightings at schools. 

 

Did a lot more survive than the eBay ***RARE Steve Jobs*** people think? They did, and I believe there are a lot lurking in OUR closets :) I would know, having cleared out a few surplus machines this summer with a few more to go. (Look for a listing for a non-CD 550 sometime once I re-cap my Color Classic; currently, I have its re-capped board in there).

 

I wonder if that guy in Belgium still has his big wall of Macs...

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16 minutes ago, Scott Baret said:

I wonder if that guy in Belgium still has his big wall of Macs...

When I was volunteering a Goodwill back in the late '90's they were awash in compact Macs.

Pallet loads (heck, truckloads!) came in from many of the high-tech companies in the area as well as from individuals.

Initially they tried to sell 128's & 512's for ~$10 each then $5 but no one was buying.

At some point anything less than a Plus was just sent for recycling. (or the dumpster.)

By the time the iMacs were introduced pretty much anything less than a IIci became worthless.

There were so many 128's & 512's some of guys back in the warehouse set them up as pins and used an old bowling ball to knock them down!

 

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Any system that sells in the hundreds of thousands or millions will have a glut in the used market when they are worthless. 

 

I remember the university I went to in the middle to late 80's had hundreds upon hundreds of IBM 5150 dual floppy no HD machines (probably the original 64k machines with RAM upgrades) in their computer labs for students to do word processing or whatever could fit on a 360K disk at the time connected to high speed dot matrix printers. I am sure after I left they tossed those in the thousands because they were useless, which is why they are worth something now. Personally I wish I could go back in time and save all those IBM CGA monitors and Model M keyboards.

 

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Some interesting perspectives/insights here, thanks for the posts everyone.

 

I can understand how so many might have survived, the small footprint and charming factor must contribute to this. However, I'm not convinced that so many have actually survived, or at least as many as we think, as we are indeed the type of people who do not throw these things away, but I would argue the majority of people probably did throw them away once they'd served their purpose/stopped working. My dad bought his SE new in 88/89, with a LaserWriter II, and various software, and a ScanMan hand-held scanner, all-in this stuff cost more than a brand new car back then... but he still ended up throwing the SE and its related stuff away (literally thrown away, not given away) when it stopped working in the early 2000s! I wish I'd asked him for it, as it was my first computer. I think all that was wrong with it was the internal SCSI hard drive had died.

 

I can believe the SE/30 acheiving much lower sales, after all it was a costly machine, and if you intended to buy any sort of upgrade card that would bump the price even further. My dad used his Macs for professional graphic design work but he never had the money to spend on Apple's higher-end models, after the SE he settled on an LC, and then a Performa 6200, before upgrading to a PowerMac G4. There's no way my dad would've spent on any of the 68K/early PPC towers, as I think you would be into many multiples of the cost of an LC/Performa by that point.

 

I know it's probably a far fetched idea, but it would be nice to start an online database to keep as a record of known/living Macs of this vintage, somewhere where contributors can submit their serial number, perhaps their first name and location (country), with a 'notes' section to describe the current condition/state of the machine. If anyone knows of something that already exists, I'd be happy to contribute my models to it. If nobody knows of one, I can start one.

11 hours ago, MOS8_030 said:

When I was volunteering a Goodwill back in the late '90's they were awash in compact Macs.

Pallet loads (heck, truckloads!) came in from many of the high-tech companies in the area as well as from individuals.

Initially they tried to sell 128's & 512's for ~$10 each then $5 but no one was buying.

At some point anything less than a Plus was just sent for recycling. (or the dumpster.)

By the time the iMacs were introduced pretty much anything less than a IIci became worthless.

There were so many 128's & 512's some of guys back in the warehouse set them up as pins and used an old bowling ball to knock them down!

 

This is a charming but also sad story. I'm sure it has a name of some sort, but the process through which computers go, from being sold at retail price at new, to reaching rock bottom prices when nobody wants them (ala $10 128ks) to being collector's items...I just find it really interesting and you see the same thing with cars and all manner of other things.

 

If we can't get sales figures, which does seem unlikely as Apple did not make the information public, something else we could research is trying to ascertain 'how many are left', again I know we won't get anywhere near a real figure, but we can at least start to think about it...

 

Somewhere to start, which is not scientific at all, but will provide us some data to work with...

 

A search for "Macintosh 128K" on eBay, including worldwide listings, returns 45 results...but if we exclude accessories, etc as we are only concerned with actual machines for sale, this results in 11 machines currently for sale.

 

If we apply for the same for "Macintosh 512K", we get 183 items, and then pair it down to 12 actual computers for sale.

 

"Macintosh Plus", we get 42 actual computers for sale.

"Macintosh SE", 46.

"Macintosh SE/30", 8

"Macintosh Classic", 33

"Macintosh Classic II", 13 - I based this search on the above search, as there are variations of spelling II, like 2, ii, etc.

"Macintosh Color Classic", 7

"Macintosh Color Classic II", 0 (non US markets only so not surprising)

"Performa 200", 1

"Performa 275", 0 (Asia only so not surprising)

 

Now, as I said, this is unlikely to be a good representation of judging how many of these have survived, and there are so many variables involved that will skew results. I'm not convinved that eBay's search algorithm really shows me absolutely every listing from every country when I search from eBay UK. I might be wrong but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not looking at absolutely everything. eBay is only one site, there are many other sites where these computers will be listed, and some sites are country specific. The UK has Craigslist but its seldom used - Gumtree is more popular here but I don't see many vintage macs appear on there, maybe 1 every couple of months. Another thing which has skewed this is mis-representation of the model, some listings for "Classic" are actually SEs or other models.

 

And I'm sure it also goes without saying, but my above search is simply showing how many are on sale at this given time, with no clues to how many might be in storage / various collections around the world. I would bet that most collectors won't be looking to sell their Macs any time soon, which means a lot of the survivors might never see eBay, or at least not for a long time.

 

So where am I going with this? I'm not sure really...it's just a nice distraction. The search above shows a big variance between the models, with the Plus and SE having the most listings, and I do get a feeling that seeing 8 SE/30s vs 46 SEs shows us that Apple sold a lot less SE/30s than SEs...But we knew that already. So yeah, not sure what I'm really contributing here, other than just something that might 'interest' people here.

 

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The problem with using auction listings to try and figure out sales is that there are too many other factors at play. I'm sure the number of 128k Macintoshes on eBay is skewed by the fact that they are worth a fair amount, which incentivizes people to go to the trouble of getting them out of storage and listing them, while they might not bother for something that will sell for $50. Similarly, while there aren't many SE/30s for sale, I can't help but think that the terrible capacitors in these machines have drastically reduced the number of currently working machines, and of course the collector market and the SE/30's reputation as "THE compact Mac to have" has further reduced the number of machines "in the wild."

 

One mostly unrelated thing that I noticed when searching Yahoo! Auctions Japan is that there was a huge number of compact Macs for sale that had been repurposed in some way, either by adding an LCD screen and a space for a Mac Mini, or just ones that had been turned into iPad stands. I wonder if many working machines had this done to them.

Edited by Mighty Jabba

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@Mighty Jabba Thanks, all very good points.

 

Reliability of the machine, with later models being more 'complex' having SMD components, hard drives, etc, contributes to earlier failure, making them more prone to being dumped rather than repaired potentially.

 

Once a machine reaches that 'collectors item' status, it encourages others to list theirs as they believe they might achieve a high price for their Mac. The 128K seems to be the highest 'collectors' status of all the models, possibly followed by the SE/30 and Color Classic?

 

I tried to find eBay Japan listings but couldn't manage to find any, is there such a thing? Is Yahoo much more popular in Japan?

 

Yes, agree that many of these compacts have been subject to modificiation/hacks and being made into Macquariums which probably reduced numbers quite a bit. I think that craze is mostly over these days as people appreciate these computers in their original/slightly upgraded forms rather than being repurposed into something like a fish tank.

 

 

 

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eBay tried to enter Japan a while back and failed. Yahoo Auctions is the most common auction site. Here is a link to the 68k desktop section. It's difficult to search for text because some people will list things in Japanese and others will use English, etc.

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7 hours ago, joshc said:

Some interesting perspectives/insights here, thanks for the posts everyone.

I know it's probably a far fetched idea, but it would be nice to start an online database to keep as a record of known/living Macs of this vintage, somewhere where contributors can submit their serial number, perhaps their first name and location (country), with a 'notes' section to describe the current condition/state of the machine. If anyone knows of something that already exists, I'd be happy to contribute my models to it. If nobody knows of one, I can start one.

There's a database for 128K, 512K, and Plus's here: http://www.mac128.com/Mac128/m0001

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2 hours ago, MOS8_030 said:

There's a database for 128K, 512K, and Plus's here: http://www.mac128.com/Mac128/m0001

Thanks @MOS8_030 However, I'm not sure how active it is anymore.

 

It took me a while to find the actual page where the index/registry is, which is: http://www.mac128.com/m0001

 

I have submitted both my 128K (upgraded to Plus 1MB) and Plus 1MB, but I did notice a lot of spam listings on the site which leads me to think it's not in regular maintenance anymore...which would not be surprising, given the fact anything I was doing in 2007 either no longer exists or never saw completion :lol:

 

I believe the registry was created by @Mac128, not sure if he's still around here. If he is, I'd be open to helping out with it however I can. I have an array of experience in building web-based things and wouldn't mind a side project to keep me distracted.

 

Somewhat related, although not that useful for me personally, as I'm not lucky or rich enough to own an Apple 1, but still very interesting, is this Apple 1 registry: https://www.apple1registry.com/en/list.html

 

I hope this doesn't sound too negative, but I'm not sure I see the benefit of a 128K/512K/Plus specific registry, I can understand from a purely technical point of view that those models have the most similarities in their design and components, but I do feel there is an importance to having a catalogue of as wide a range of Apple's products as possible, hence why I wanted to start one that would allow anyone to register any Apple product that has a serial number and/or Apple model number, of which I think all Apple products do as far as I know. I would want to allow registration of any age of Apple product, all that matters is that it is identifiable by its serial number or model number. I notice that even the original documentation that came with Apple's computers tends to have an identifier on the back, and although these aren't unique like the serial number on a machine, it would still be nice to start cataloguing all this stuff.

21 hours ago, Unknown_K said:

Any system that sells in the hundreds of thousands or millions will have a glut in the used market when they are worthless.

So very true, I just feel we are past this point with most models of vintage Mac. I think, almost regardless of model, the prices will continue to go up for any pre-Intel machines. Sure, you can pick up the G4s and G5s cheap still, but I wouldn't give it too long before those become a less frequent sight, and with it the prices will rise.

Edited by joshc
Typo

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G4's and G5's were cheap a few years back, they might still be reasonable now but the bottom end on ebay macs would be early Intel laptops and Imacs.

 

You will always find inexpensive Mac SE's and LC's because of the quantity sold compared to the other models but look out for bad floppy drives and stripped out HDs (to fix more popular 68k macs).

 

Not sure how good a registry is for compact macs compared to Apple 1 because people who spend the cash for an Apple 1 will keep them while I think the 128K Compacts get flipped much more often.

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A roll call on here may or may not be accurate. Again, we have our preferences, and there are probably a disproportionate amount of SE/30s and CCs compared to the real world.

 

I've actually flipped three CCs and four SE/30s in the past fifteen years. All have sold at a profit and sold rather quickly. Yes, I flipped a boxed CC, which I sort of regret two years later, but the more meaningful machines to me have been my personal LC (which I've had since it was new) and a regular SE (which brings back good memories of school).

 

Counting those two, I know my current inventory is as follows:

1 128K

1 512Ke

4 Pluses (three were upgraded 128K/512K)

6 SEs (one is a prototype)

4 Classics

1 Classic II

1 Performa 200

1 CC

5 LCs

4 LC IIs

1 IICI

1 IISI

1 IIFX

1 LC 520

1 LC 550 with no CD

 

Look for a few of those to get sold soon. It's rather representative of what's out there, however, in terms of what existed.

(Now we also know who has the stash of pizza box LCs around here...)

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