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Finding a Home for Old Macs

Adam and I are living examples of the difficulties in getting rid of old computers. We keep our aging SE/30 because we love it and may use it as a server someday and the Classic because nobody will buy it and because we occasionally use it to test programs. Last month we bought a LaserWriter Select 360 and haven’t found time to sell our four-year-old QMS-PS 410 that has a minor paper crumpling problem that none of our printer self-help books can explain. (We also haven’t found time to call QMS or decide if we need two printers.)

I finally gave up my NCR DecisionMate V (a pseudo-PC clone that ran WordStar) after four years in 1989 when my sister started college, and we kept Adam’s Atari 1040ST (you never know when you might need to play an old Atari game) for about a year longer than we needed it. Our local user group, dBUG, has a yearly swap and sell meeting; maybe next time we’ll bring the QMS and try again with the Classic, although it’s currently working with an analog-to-digital converter from Remote Measurement Systems to record how much power our house uses. It’s a simple task, and a simple Mac does it well.

Besides love and procrastination, people have trouble selling old Macs because it takes time and energy to sell them and sometimes because of the security issues involved in inviting strangers into your home (earlier this year, some people in California had extremely unpleasant experiences due to thieves responding to classified ads and coming to advertisers’ homes under the guise of potential buyers).

Even timeworn 128K and 512K Macs are worth something to the right person. Just yesterday I heard about someone buying a 512K Mac as a collector’s item. A Plus running appropriate software on the right person’s desk may has not lost the ability to provide the power to be your best, assuming your best doesn’t require multiple applications, lots of extensions, and System 7. And even if you can’t find a home for your Mac, you may find a dealer who has an eye on its parts.

The trick is to get those old Macs into the right hands, and in addition to donating them to relatives, swap meets, word of mouth, and taking out a classified ad, you might consider taking advantage of Apple’s trade-in plan or donating the equipment to a worthy cause.

Apple’s Trade-In Plan (Sorry U.S. Only) — Since 25-Apr-94, Apple has offered a trade-in program managed by Micro Exchange, a large remarketing company. According to the press release, you can trade in computers, monitors, and printers from a variety of companies, including Apple, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Compaq. In exchange for your equipment, Micro Exchange sends you "trade-in dollars" towards the purchase of new Apple equipment.

To take advantage of the program, you must locate an Apple reseller, who can give you a worksheet that you fill out. The reseller sends the worksheet to Micro Exchange, and Micro Exchange responds by sending the reseller a "firm price quote, good for 30 days." If you want to go for it, Micro Exchange gets in touch with you, you send the equipment to Micro Exchange, and Micro Exchange "evaluates it to confirm that its value matches the quote." After the evaluation, Micro Exchange sends you a check, and you must use the money to buy new Apple equipment.

To find the name and number of a nearby reseller, call 800/538-9696.

In addition to Apple’s program, you can usually find remarketer ads in the back of computer publications, such as MacWEEK.

Donating Equipment — If you prefer a more personal way of disposing of an old computer or printer, consider your favorite school or charitable organization. Depending on the organization and your tax situation, you may be able to deduct the value of the Mac from your income taxes, but kids, don’t attempt this without the help of an adult (preferably an adult CPA). If you need help finding a worthy recipient, take a look at a list of organizations maintained (as he has time) by Anthony Stieber <[email protected]>. Anthony’s list primarily consists of U.S.-based organizations, but he will add any organization, so that could change over time.

According to the list’s introduction, the list includes "non-profit organizations that will take spare, old, or obsolete computers and recycle them for use within their own organization or other organizations. The organizations range from local to national and global organizations covering a wide range of interests, computer and otherwise. This information is not guaranteed, and may be outright wrong. Use at your own risk. Please send additions or corrections." The list is available via anonymous FTP at: computer.donate

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