I did something wild and unhinged today - I drove TEN HOURS, to Atlanta (and back) to purchase a 24-year-old computer. I already had the matching Studio Display (flat panel monitor), but needed the tower and keyboard to complete the set. These are getting more difficult to find, and here I found one for only $60! That’s a DONE DEAL in my book!
I found this machine on Facebook Marketplace, along with 17 of its brethren, in a storage unit just east of Atlanta. They all look like they were originally used in a computer lab in the nearby school system and had been liquidated and probably sold in bulk.
While I was driving back, it hit me: How much did these machines cost the taxpayers of that school system back then, compared with how much I paid for everything? Also, what would these computers have cost, adjusted for inflation?
Luckily, the original prices are in databases online (yes, Mac fans have been tracking this stuff the whole time!).
This set up would have cost (combined) about $2.7k in 1999. Adjusted for inflation, in 2023 dollars, that’s just-shy of $5k!
As expensive and locked down as modern Macs are, it’s kind of surprising to see that far more powerful hardware (an M2 Mac Studio and Studio Display) actually costs LESS today than what it would have cost you for the 1999 equivalent!
Why do I do this? I always loved these computers. I was 8-years old when these were released, and they obviously caught the eye of a tech obsessed kid. How could they not? I remember logging on using dial up and looking at these computers online, or over the "fast" T1 internet connections at my library, and being in complete awe over how cool and powerful they were.
Alas, my family definitely wasn’t affording what was the equivalent of a $5k computer system, so… I never had access to one. Though to be fair, I personally wouldn't spend $5k on a computer today, either.
Unlike my Mom and her “Fun Flowers,” or my Dad and his “GI Joes,” these computers weren’t really toys, but are kind of (to me) that same type of thing you keep around as a memory of those years. As irrational as all of this is, completing this set kind of closes that loop.
This hardware still looks fantastic today. They may now appear retro-futuristic, but there’s not a single thing about the design of these pieces of hardware that has been invalidated over time. They have aged well and still look handsome and trim, even in 2023.
My price for all this? $130.
Sometimes good things DO come to those who wait! :)
Adjusted for Inflation
What I Paid