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How Much Is Your Old Apple Computer or iPod Worth?

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We asked a vintage computer expert about the value of past era Mac computers, Apple laptops, the first iPod and more.

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Last November, Christie's auction house in London put the gavel down on an Apple I computer for over $200,000. You knew there was a reason you've kept your old Apple (AAPL) products in the basement/attic/garage/the kitchen pantry where food should be. What's your old Apple worth? For an expert opinion, we asked Sellam Ismail, owner of Silicon Valley-based broker and archive VintageTech and founder of the Vintage Computer Festival.

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1. Apple I computer: The one that started it all in 1976. Back then it cost you $666.66, and only around 200 were made, so this one is the Holy Grail for Mac collectors-it's got history, rarity, and you may even make back your initial investment.
What's it worth? Ismail thinks that 200Gs that was spent at Christies last year was way too much. He's sold Apple Is for $14,000 to $30,000. Says Ismail, "Spending $261,000 for an Apple I is just not justifiable, in my opinion, especially considering that one of the major components on the board-the CPU-was not original."
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2. Apple II (aka Apple ][ ) was introduced in 1977 with a price tag of $1,200. This one was a good seller for Apple, probably due to the color monitor and flexibility of 8 expansion slots. This model begat Apple II Plus in 1979 and Apple IIe in 1983.
What's it worth? Apple II models with the original motherboard will bring in the most, according to Ismail-$1,000 or more-but the most sought-after by collectors have the Apple II logo on the lid. "Careful attention should be paid to any Apple II being considered for purchase as a collectible because many were upgraded to newer motherboards once the II Plus came out."
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3. Lisa. The Lisa came out in 1983 and cost $10,000. About 100,000 units were sold in the two years it was on the market. "Lisa" is an acronym for Local Integrated Software Architecture, but it's also the name of Jobs' eldest daughter.
What's it worth? It depends, according to Ismail. The first Lisas with "Twiggy" 5.25" floppy drives had problems from the outset, so Apple moved to a 3.5" drive. He says an original pre-upgrade Lisa could bring about $10,000. The later versions will most likely net you less than a $1,000.
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4. Apple Macintosh Classic. With a whopping 128 kilobytes in 1984, you needed to shell out $2,495. Think "1980s Mac" and this is probably the model that comes to mind-a cute little box with a tiny screen.
What's it worth? "An original, unmodified model, without upgraded hardware, should sell for at least $500, and probably approaching $1,000 as they are extremely hard to find nowadays-not so only a few years ago," says Ismail.
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5. Macintosh Portable. Weighing in at 16 pounds, this 1989 offering looks something like a typewriter with a flipscreen display and cost $6,500 for the basic version. A far cry from the current crop of Mac laptops-the latest MacBook Air weighs 2.3 pounds.
What's it worth? Ismail says $200 to $300 for a nice model. "The problem
with these is that they have a lead acid battery that needs to be working for the computer to turn on."
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6. Apple Macintosh Color Classic. In 1993, this technology was priced at $1,400 but it had a color screen, a novelty at the time. The Color Classic II had a faster processor and more memory and is rarer here because it was made for the Japanese and Canadian markets.
What's it worth? For an original Color Classic, $100 to $150, and $200 to $300 for a Color Classic II.
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7. Apple PowerBook G3. The first PowerBook was introduced in 1997. Your $5,700 bought you a PowerPC 750 processor that helped take laptops to a new performance level.
What's it worth? Still too common to be worth much, according to Ismail. "Maybe $50 for a nice working one?"
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8. Apple iMac. One of Apple's rare forays into color, the original iMacs, which were released in 1998, came in a blue casing. They heralded the return of Steve Jobs to Apple's helm, and the return of stylish computers, says Ismail, after a decade of boring, beige boxes. The iMac were eventually released in 12 "flavors" and were enormously popular with consumers. They were also the first Mac with USB ports but without a floppy drive.
What's it worth? You probably won't make the $1,299 you spent quite yet. Says Ismail, "A really good condition iMac these days might fetch $50 from someone who has some sort of irreconcilable desire to relive some earlier moment of their lives. In other words, they're too old to be of use with modern software but too new to be worth much as a collectible. Give it a few more years."
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9. iPhone. It seems so long ago, doesn't it? But in 2007, the heavens parted, angels sang, and the first iPhone was offered for $499, thereby kicking off the trend of camping out in front of Apple stores whenever a new iPhone model is introduced.
What's it worth? iPhones seem to generate a passion-an original 8 gigabyte iPhone was recently offered on eBay (EBAY) for $200. "Too new to make a judgment, but certainly these will age well with time," says Ismail.
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10. iPod. The first iPod hit the shelves in October, 2001. Offered with 5 gigabytes of memory, the "Scroll Wheel" made operating a snap. Not cheap at $399, but it could hold 1,000 songs.
What's it worth? Recent eBay listings ranged from $50 to $280 for models with accessories and packaging. Ismail's advice: "Wait several more years for these to have collectible cachet."

And where can you sell all of these computers? You can try the next Vintage Computer Festival on May 14 and 15 in Wall Township, New Jersey. But there's still a chance your vintage Mac won't finance your retirement years, or even a weekend getaway. If that's the case, you can always make it into a MacQuarium.



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