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Summary:

Apple computers are well known for their long lifespans. In the late 1990s, while at UC Berkeley, vintage late-1980s Mac SE/30s powered

Apple computers are well known for their long lifespans. In the late 1990s, while at UC Berkeley, vintage late-1980s Mac SE/30s powered our student newspaper, and connected to the AppleTalk network. Meanwhile at home, if I upgraded my equipment, buying a newer Mac, my old Mac would typically go to a family member, like a brother or my dad, and their previous generation machines would be similarly passed on to somebody else. But that only scales so far.

Where do you turn when your Mac has reached the end of the line?

Even worse, sometimes the Mac can go dead, and won’t make passing along any good. As my wife and I have seen older laptops go kaput, through failed logic boards, hard drive failures or the occasional drop, we’ve racked up about three or so laptops, quietly filed away and collecting dust in our closet (two iBooks and a PowerBook, I believe). Should we be harvesting them for parts, selling them on eBay as junk, or hiding them in the garbage bins in the dead of night after the hard drives are harvested? And if I do steal away the hard drives, how should I nuke my data so it isn’t stolen? With high powered magnets?

As much fun as it is to buy new computers, we all have to say goodbye sometime. How do you do it? I’m listening.

  1. I can’t seem to let go of old Macs. When I get a new one, all in-use Macs are shuffled down. That way the one in the studio is always the 2nd fastest Mac in the house. So the stash of unused Macs keeps growing; SE, IIci, 8500, PB 160C, G3, PB G3.

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  2. After a few years of “collecting” old Macs, I finally gave up. I now eBay or Craigslist my old machine, then buy another one. I find that I use the tertiary ones so rarely that it doesn’t make sense to devote the space, electricity, and time to keep them running.

    That would probably change if there were more than two of us, and if I lived in something larger than a one bedroom apartment.

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  3. I tend to pass my Macs on and have not as yet had a situation where the Mac was unusable enough to do so. If that were ever to happen I would harvest it for parts, but then I’m a Mac technician.

    When I pass them on to friends and family right now I generally just use Disk Utility to zero the drive a few times and then install a clean OS and set up a couple of accounts: a master admin account for troubleshooting, an Apple Remote Desktop account (for VLC troubleshooting) and a test account just in case. I like to help them get on their way and make my life easier when they need help.

    If I do sell one then it’s simple; harvest the HD, stick in a new one and return to factory settings. What to do with the old drive? Well I don’t have any use for it and while there wouldn’t be financial data or anything of any worth on it I do like to be thorough and that’s where my trusty drill comes in.

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  4. In the past I’ve found that Mac’s have had a very high resale value, especially compared to an PC equivilent, which is nice.

    However, I still wish I had my old Mac so I could chuck it in the front row and use it as an iTunes / The Filter box.

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  5. A few have gone to the family members, even the original iMac is still in use.

    All the others I’ve sold, at least before the intel-era the machines kept their value suprisingly well and I’ve never hard any difficulties finding a buyer. However that does require that update the machine at the right time when the old machine still has some appeal left.

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  6. Consider donating your computer: http://www.computer-aid.org/

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  7. Consider donating your computer: http://www.computer-aid.org/

    Interesting site; however, it is clearly stated on the site that Macs are not accepted, not exactly helpful for an Apple blog.

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  8. I ended up with quite a few vintage Macs thanks to various friends and university sales – although most have dead PRAM batteries, I’ve stacked ‘em up in our attic and covered them. One day they’ll get dug out and it’ll be like Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky” music video…

    As for the newer Macs, I’m still using my iBook G3 as the “portable”, although it’s destined to become an iTunes jukebox and my Mac mini (G4) is going to become a DVR/smarter Apple TV once I decided to upgrade…

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  9. Considering that Apple Computer no longer engages in corporate philanthropy (it’s true, they even have a special phone number dedicated to telling nonprofit agencies that they won’t help them, and a special webpage telling nonprofits to write grants to buy Apple computers !) donating your old macintosh to a school or other nonprofit organization is a good idea. Keep in mind though, if your old macintosh is obsolete, chances are it will be recycled.

    I run a nonprofit music recording studio for teens, and nearly all of our music computers (all macs of course) are donated used machines.

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  10. My Performa 6416 with it’s 650 MB hard drive was collecting dust and taking up space so I had the hard drive copied to a CD and a friend is taking the computer off of my hands to put in a collection that he’s putting together.

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