If you’ve been considering investing in a collectable Macintosh computer, now is your chance to snag one up before it’s gone. A rare, new, unopened Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh has surfaced on eBay, 16 years after the computer’s original release as a promotional 20th anniversary to Apple which was limited to just 12,000 units.
The Buy It Now price? A mere $8349.00 which can be found here on eBay. The 20th Anniversary Mac originally was priced at 7499.00 back in 1997 which was priced nearly twice that of the Power Mac line which boasted a more powerful 604e processor, increased memory capacity and storage space. But the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh offered none of that, focusing primarily on its elegance, style and unique features.
In contrast, the more expensive Macintosh models now are the Mac Pro line which you can customize as much as your wallet will allow adding additional processing power, added memory, graphics and hard drives. But the TAM (Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh) was not about having the most powerful computer but a rare glimpse at style over function, which many regarded as a flop in the history of Apple Computers.
Yet despite its performance flaws, it is regarded by fans as one of the most elegant sculptures of art in the form of technology and has proven itself to be among one of the few collectable Apple products based on their resale value and unique features, many of which debuted on the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.
The TAM was a one-off design by Jonathan Ive who went on to develop devices like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. It was a forward-looking machine at what might have been, using available components of the time. Certain aspects of the TAM can been seen in the later iMacs, with their integrated speakers and LCD display. The use of a built in LCD wouldn’t return until 2002 with the G4 iMac. The TAM also sported a unique keyboard with leather palm rests and trackpad. The integrated sound system was designed by Bose with the power supply mounted inside the subwoofer plus a vertical-mounted CD drive and FM/TV tuner not commonly found on a computer. Apple would go even further to wow its customers by offering an exclusive in-house, white glove, concierge setup of your Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh.
According to the seller of this TAM, two units were originally purchased after Apple slashed the price of the TAM to below $2,000 to get them out the door. (This was shortly after Steve Job’s return to Apple and ousting of Gil Amelio whose tenner at Apple as CEO only lasted 499 days.) One of the TAM’s purchased was used and the other was stored away as a collector’s investment.
Some of the most collectable computers Apple released are the Apple I, the Apple II and the Lisa yet in recent times there hasn’t been many collectable computers from Apple that could fetch near their original retail price or more. Most now are designed to sell millions of units unlike the TAM’s 12,000 limited production. The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh could be the last great collectable Mac. Less than a year after its release the next generation G3 architecture iMacs were released which would go on to sell over 4 million units and would become a model for all of their products to follow.
The big question to Mac collectors is: will there be another collectable Mac? Or, will there be a Fortieth Anniversary Macintosh? The answer is likely: no. Apple keeps a slim, no-overlap product line which keeps the number of different parts for the same product down, limiting waste and overhead while making it easier for the consumer to choose a computer or device to fit their needs. Design and production is a long and expensive task and designing something in limited numbers isn’t something to go over well with investors or stock holders. Still, a one-off return to consumer indulgence would be welcomed by some, especially when even the more expensive Mac Pros, while they command a premium price today, will someday be worth less than a TAM, if they’re not already.
For example opened and used TAMs have consistently held a used price between $900-1500 for a complete unit with original boxes. Mac Pros from 2006-2008 while originally costing anywhere between $2200-4500, can now be had for similar prices or less. Because of the larger numbers produced and the lack of any collectable features, their price will only diminish further as they become more outdated. It’s hard to say what a collectable Macintosh is worth, like many rare and unique items, it is only worth what someone else is willing to pay. At $8349.00 it’s a potentially risky investment now, but in 5, 10 or 20 years time, the return could be tenfold.
The real question to ask is how many new TAMs are still out there. Since Apple slashed the price on the TAM to below production costs, there were likely many investors out there that stored a new unit to resell it later but many of those have likely been sold by now and opened. Over the past two years, only 1 or 2 have surfaced. The stockpiles of new and unopened TAMs are likely running out of these so purchasing this one and keeping it unopened would be a wise investment move if you’re in the market for collecting rare Apple products. With Apple’s success in recent years the value of rare Apple products are sure to go up.