Closing the Mac price gap

Summary:I was digging through some old crates in my garage last night and stumbled across some of my old college notebooks. While flipping through them I happened across a couple of computer price lists for students. I graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, one of the first Universities in the United States that required you to purchase a Macintosh to attend (I believe that Darmouth may have been the first).I had my own Mac when I enrolled (a Mac II with 13-inch color monitor) and didn't need to buy one, but the price lists are extraordinary to look back at.

I was digging through some old crates in my garage last night and stumbled across some of my old college notebooks. While flipping through them I happened across a couple of computer price lists for students. I graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia, one of the first Universities in the United States that required you to purchase a Macintosh to attend (I believe that Dartmouth may have been the first).

I had my own Mac when I enrolled (a Mac II with 13-inch color monitor) and didn't need to buy one, but the price lists are extraordinary to look back at.

The price list dated 25 August 1991 features some of the following Macs:

Mac Classic 4MB RAM, 40MB HDD - US$1,679
Mac IIci 5MB/160MB (CPU only) - US$3,480
Mac IIfx 4MB/160MB (CPU only) - US$5,389

The list also includes such other gems as the Mac LC (US$2,065) and the IIsi (US$3,174). My favorite item from the 1991 price list however is the machine that started the Apple portable (or should I say, "luggable") revolution:

Mac Portable 4MB/40MB - US$2,959

It should be noted that the first generation Mac Portable had a non-backlit screen, the backlight was a US$993 upgrade. The Portable Data Modem 2400 set you back another US$316.

There are all kinds of other goodies on the 1991 list, like the LaserWriter IINT (US$2,408), IINTX (US$2,996), which were great printers and the Radius 19-inch (US$2,841) and 21-inch (US$2,971) color displays. The monitors did not include a card, the DirectColor/24 Interface cost an extra US$2,346.

The other price list I found was dated 1 February 1992 and featured such beauts as the Quadra 700 (4MB/400MB/512KB VRAM) for US$5,354 and the Quadra 900 (4MB/400MB/512KB VRAM) for a whopping US$6,299.

The 1992 price list took a dramatic leap in the portable department and replaced the Mac Portable suitcase with some real portables:

PowerBook 100 4MB RAM/20MB HDD/ext floppy - US$2,474
PowerBook 140 4MB/40MB - US$2,883
PowerBook 170 4MB/40MB - US$3,631

Keep in mind that these were academic prices, retail was probably 25 - 30 percent higher.

I remember my first Mac purchase quite vividly, in 1985 my Mom bought me an original beige 128kb Mac toaster, it had no HDD - just a 400kb internal floppy - and it was priced to moved at US$4,400. She bought it from ComputerLand (I think) inside of a department store called The Bay.

We've certainly come a long way from 1991 baby. With MacBooks started at only US$1,100 and iMacs at US$1,300 (and even less for academic customers) Apple has certainly closed the Macintosh price gap. In fact, now that the Intel Macs can run Windows natively, a case can be made that these dual and tri-boot machines are even cheaper than many Windows PCs. Did I really just type that?

How much did you pay for your first Mac?

Topics: Apple

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.