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Mighty Jabba

Recent spike in PPC Mac prices?

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I started collecting PPC Macs in earnest just a few months ago, and one of the main reasons I decided to essentially go all out and get all of the ones I had wanted back in the day was that they were extremely cheap. But I’ve been following the prices since then and it seems like they have increased significantly. The titanium PowerBook G4 in particular has sold for really high prices. One went for $535 on eBay recently, which I figured was some kind of fluke (it also surprised the owner, who mentioned it on Reddit), but others have gone for more than $200 as well. Pismos also seem to be going up, with one selling recently for $200. I also haven’t seen a cheap iBook clamshell for a long time. 
 

I thought I would ask people who have been paying attention to this for longer than me what they thought. Have you guys noticed the same thing? Is this just part of the natural ebb and flow of prices or does it represent a lasting increase in prices for these machines? 

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It can't be demand from AROS users, though G4s are the machines of choice for that OS.

 

There is a company buying G4 machines to keep very very expensive Heidelberg press equipment going, but I don't think the PB G4's one of them.

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I have not seen those high prices to be honest. Most PPC systems have been purged from the recyclers a long time ago so supply of working units is probably lower then demand. Its been years since I seen decent deals on G5 towers and even G5 imacs are not dirt cheap.

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It's possible that prices were unusually low during the period when I was actively looking and now they have gone back to normal. Either way, I guess I'm glad I got most of the stuff I wanted at that point.

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G3, G4 and G5 towers remain pretty cheap, partly because they’re too expensive to ship and prone to damage. Local pickup should net you a decent machine for little coin if you keep at searching for a few weeks.

 

PowerBooks have always held more value, partly due to their timeless design and size. iBooks are cheap!

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Finding a TiBook in decent shape is rare. They weren't the most durable machines and showed wear very quickly. Almost every well used one (not a desk queen) will have worn out palm rests, chipped paint, and even a broken hinge. Being the most powerful OS 9 compatible portable adds to the value as well, although likely not as much as it used to.

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iBook clamshells seem to be more pricey than iceBooks partially because of the supposed unreliability of the iceBooks and partially because they're distinctive looking machines that were all over the place in the 99~01ish timeframe in pop culture.  It also helps to drive up prices when you have a single individual turning loads of them into "art" projects.  As for the iceBooks, any that were going to die from the GPU/motherboard problems they had would have died off ages ago so the ones that are left now are, in my opinion, as reliable as any other period machine.  That bad rep does help keep prices low.  You can pick up a decent working machine for under $50.

 

All of this is just conjecture though, it could be that several people decided that now was the time to buy PPC Macs and drove up prices at the specific time you were also looking. 

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I've noticed this too.  I like PPC Macs.  I got most of the ones I want, but I'm always tempted to add more.  The rising prices make me think twice before expanding my collection though.

 

3 hours ago, EvilCapitalist said:

iBook clamshells seem to be more pricey than iceBooks partially because of the supposed unreliability of the iceBooks and partially because they're distinctive looking machines that were all over the place in the 99~01ish timeframe in pop culture.  It also helps to drive up prices when you have a single individual turning loads of them into "art" projects.  As for the iceBooks, any that were going to die from the GPU/motherboard problems they had would have died off ages ago so the ones that are left now are, in my opinion, as reliable as any other period machine.  That bad rep does help keep prices low.  You can pick up a decent working machine for under $50.

 

All of this is just conjecture though, it could be that several people decided that now was the time to buy PPC Macs and drove up prices at the specific time you were also looking. 

 

I got my 500mhz iceBook for around $60 shipped from eBay about 4 years ago.  It's a nice machine.

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With the caveat that I'm not actively watching ebay, and haven't really for several years - 

 

I'm not surprised by this at all, and, I suspect we only have a couple years before early Intel machines do this too, so if anyone thinks they have an early Intel machine they'll want to have gotten cheap a few years ago, just go ahead and pick it up today.

 

It seems like the value of old tech follows a sort of a trough curve.

 

Something is built and then it's valuable as a new/fast/current/modern piece of technology with a working life ahead of it.

 

Then, the piece of tech does its working life and around the end of that working life, its value drops to zero pretty quickly.

 

The value stays at zero and there's this period where the thing is too new to be interesting but also more or less too old to be useful (The Great Plateau is making this phase a little weird because a lot of stuff, at least as far as generic x86-based computers sold for Windows/Linux/Unix go, from 10+ years ago still competently runs current software versions). (Macs also get weird here mostly because there's only one official/supported vendor for Mac hardware, and so you have Macs from 2013 that fetch 2-5x what a generic OEM or self-built system from that time will.

 

And then, during that low period, people toss things because they take up space and they can't really find people to take them.

 

After enough of that has happened, people start having nostalgia for that era and want machines, but they're a little difficult to shake loose and prices start rising.

 

The older a piece or category of tech is, the smaller all the numbers are, in terms of quantity, so it'll be interesting to say how this plays out long-term when we get to the point of, IDK, Mac OS X 10.6 on 2009-2011 Macs being legitimately "vintage" - especially because this was by the time of MacBooks being among the single most popular laptop models in existence.

 

The problem there with finding "good" examples of MacBook/Airs in 2030 is going to be that most of the people who bought and used them used them hard for a very long time. (Though, to their credit, since sometime in the mid-late 2000s the build quality overall on Mac laptops took a huge leap forward from where it was for the '90s and early 2000s, due in part to material changes and in part to Apple just getting better at it. (And, the much much greater popularity means that unless the number of people engaging in vintage computing as a hobby scales, even with greater failure rates and more difficult to recover from failure modes. (Especially dependent on what happens when the first person decides to just pull the battery out of a newer MacBook Pro and run it that way, and how that'll end compared to doing it on one of the older MacBook Pros.)

 

TL;DR - if we're noticing a raise in powerpc mac prices, I'm not surprised.

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Prices in the UK for these things seem to be fairly stable at the moment. A 800mhz TiBook in decent nick went for 80 quid recently and Pismos also seem to be between 80 and 90. AlBooks are ranging from 20 to 70, and no-one wants the white iBooks. I actually won one for 99p last month and messaged the seller saying 'hey, i'd be pissed if this happened to me, feel free to cancel it'.

 

The only ones selling (selling mind, not just listed) above 150 are the clamshells, which as far as I'm concerned are the least deserving of it. If any of the other laptop models came in different colours then I should think that would have put a premium on those too as everyone brought them all for their shelf.

 

Its interesting that you post this now, as iv found that Jan and Feb seem to have lower prices in general. I figured this was down to more people listing things after Christmas to try and scrape back a few funds, and less people bidding for pretty much the same reason

Edited by Innes

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Just anecdotally, a couple years ago I was looking for some particular piece of information and ran across an advice column from ~2000 or 2001 which was either originally on LEM or some site like it at the time, pertaining to what video card would be best for a Mac IIfx/Q950/Q900 class of machine, and the answer was, essentially "there's no reason not to buy the highest end available card, they're all over ebay for practically pennies, and you can get new big PC monitors to use them with for almost nothing."

 

Prices for that kind of 68k hardware would probably still be really low it were easy to hold onto it and do physical preservation to it in bulk without having to worry about scenarios where people need to get rid of a lot of stuff at once. The problem is, for better or worse, the kind of warehousing operation needed to do that above the cost of shipping things to and from that kind of warehouse in a place that's cheap to hold onto would kind of serve to raise actual prices anyway.

 

Anyway...

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1 hour ago, MacFox said:

I got my 500mhz iceBook for around $60 shipped from eBay about 4 years ago.  It's a nice machine.

The original 500/600mhz IceBooks, IE, the ones with Rage 128 video instead of Radeon, mostly didn't suffer from the motherboard issues of the later ones.

 

5 hours ago, EvilCapitalist said:

As for the iceBooks, any that were going to die from the GPU/motherboard problems they had would have died off ages ago so the ones that are left now are, in my opinion, as reliable as any other period machine.

I'm not sure that follows. My understanding of the problem was the root cause of the failure of those machines was largely mechanical, IE, when the machine was handled (including opening and closing the lid) the stresses were concentrated in such a way that they broke the solder bonding of the GPU. (Which was essentially placed in the epicenter of the bend.) Maybe the machines that are left alive today have miraculous-strength solder compared to the ones that died, or it could simply be that they were on average handled less before they became obsolete enough to be left abandoned in a closet in still-working working condition. They still have the same glass chin, it just happens to have not been punched yet.

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2 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

Just anecdotally, a couple years ago I was looking for some particular piece of information and ran across an advice column from ~2000 or 2001 which was either originally on LEM or some site like it at the time, pertaining to what video card would be best for a Mac IIfx/Q950/Q900 class of machine, and the answer was, essentially "there's no reason not to buy the highest end available card, they're all over ebay for practically pennies, and you can get new big PC monitors to use them with for almost nothing."

People pretty much did snag those high end cards back then, I mean I did. The problem I have with that is there are plenty of cool earlier cards that were not the fastest out there and couldn't do high resolution and color depth at the same time or needed fixed frequency monitors (which were the common ones at that time) and those were tossed. I have stacks of Nubus video cards most of which you just don't see in the wild at all anymore. These are perfect for OS 6 Mac II/IIx systems.

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1 hour ago, Gorgonops said:

The original 500/600mhz IceBooks, IE, the ones with Rage 128 video instead of Radeon, mostly didn't suffer from the motherboard issues of the later ones.

 

I'm not sure that follows. My understanding of the problem was the root cause of the failure of those machines was largely mechanical, IE, when the machine was handled (including opening and closing the lid) the stresses were concentrated in such a way that they broke the solder bonding of the GPU. (Which was essentially placed in the epicenter of the bend.) Maybe the machines that are left alive today have miraculous-strength solder compared to the ones that died, or it could simply be that they were on average handled less before they became obsolete enough to be left abandoned in a closet in still-working working condition. They still have the same glass chin, it just happens to have not been punched yet.

That might be why it seems like there are plenty of 500-600MHz iceBooks out there but the 700-900MHz G3s aren't as prevalent.  Also, I can't imagine anyone is daily-driving a G3 these days so it's not like an iBook would see a ton of open/close cycles, or enough to "punch in the glass chin", so to speak. 

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53 minutes ago, EvilCapitalist said:

Also, I can't imagine anyone is daily-driving a G3 these days so it's not like an iBook would see a ton of open/close cycles, or enough to "punch in the glass chin", so to speak. 

That's certainly true enough, IE, it's pretty unlikely someone's going to buy one to toss into their bookbag every time they leave the house anymore. That said, if you happen to have one that works and want to keep it in your collection "forever" I'd probably recommend giving it "desk queen" status and leaving it set up and open, perhaps moreso than some other similar vintage machines.

 

So far as it goes you're probably also on borrowed time with almost *any* Apple laptop of that period simply because they did generally err on the side of "lightness" verses durability, and there's also the well known design issues with parts like screen hinges. Titaniums are particularly notorious in that area, of course. The cables that connect the LCD to the motherboard are another wear item that applies to almost any laptop. (In addition to wear they're also particularly prone to getting damaged when the hinges seize, which makes that wear point a two-fer. Worse case a damaged cable can short and "poof" your motherboard, which is great.)

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No arguments there.  Ask me how much fun it is to open an iceBook; even when they were new machines there was a 50-50 chance that you'd snap one of the case clips trying to pop everything open with a spudger.  :scrambled: 

 

I still can't believe that Apple thought it was a good idea to run the wireless antenna and display cables through the tiny hinge hole on the iceBooks...which sadly enough also contains the only vent for the cooling system.  Not that the cooling fan ever turned on until the machine was borderline too hot to hold.  Though, where Apple had hinges connected to a metal internal frame, HP a few years later (2006) decided that was too good for their dv9000 series laptops and connected their screen hinges to the plastic bottom case...and the connection point was right next to the CPU exhaust vent.  On a Core 2 Duo laptop.  Went through 3 complete screen assemblies on the laptop I had before I upgraded to the replacement model, the dv7...where they used the exact same design as it turned out.

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Something worth noting is ebay won't show an actual selling price for an offer. Having recently helped someone sell a bunch of PowerBooks, they really aren't worth much money.

 

Full selling list: 
Wallstreet/233 / 96M / CD / No HD - $32.50
Wallstreet/250 / 160M / 4G HDD / Two Batteries - $25
15" G4/1.5 / 1G / 160G / Airport Extreme - $40
12" G4/1 / 512M / AirPort / Combo Drive / No HD - $23
Pismo/400 / 512M / 40G / DVD-ROM - $56
12" G4/867 / 640M / 40G - $25
Walltreet/233 (+L2) / 192M / CD-ROM / no HD - $30
12" G4/1 / 768M / 60G HD - $20.50
Lomboard/333 / 512M / DVD-ROM / No HD - $40
 

Some of these sat for almost 2 months with sub-$40 BIN prices. There are always some outliers on ebay, but it's the exception and not the norm. A really nice TiBook will sell in the $100-$200 range, but the majority of other machines aren't worth much. About the only ones with value are a Wallstreet with the DVD decoder card, a Pismo/500, high res 2005 Powerbook G4 and Clamshell G3s. Everything else is sub-$50 for the majority of cases, even in the best shape. 

 

Exceptions included for ones with SSD mods, new batteries, etc, etc. Those're going to run you more money on ebay - but those aren't nearly as common as Billy finding his old laptop and tossing it up. 

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Edited by Compgeke

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Any laptops with parts missing sold as-is isn't going to get much money. People will pay more for the top end models shown to work and are complete and in nice condition.

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On 2/25/2020 at 12:37 PM, Unknown_K said:

Any laptops with parts missing sold as-is isn't going to get much money. People will pay more for the top end models shown to work and are complete and in nice condition.

yea, they have basically hit "collector" status now so buyers are going to want something in collectible condition. Then you have us fixer-uppers, etc. but they dont sell for much. and we dont pay much. 

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