The joys of hand-me-downs

In the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s, I would get a new Mac almost every two years like clockwork. And later in that timeline I usually had a desktop and a laptop at all times. But in the last 20 years, the Macs have gotten so powerful that the NEED for the latest & greatest has turned into the WANT. The last two Macs I’ve owned I kept in use for 6+ years each.

With little exception, I pass down my Macs to family members rather than selling them. What amazes me is that those family members feel like they’re getting a brand new powerful Mac that they then end up keeping for 5-8 more years.

It brings me great joy to take a Mac that I’ve decided just isn’t cutting it anymore, erase everything, re-install the OS and any appropriate apps from scratch, and set it up for a family member.

Not only do I get to make a family member happy, but I feel better knowing the old Mac isn’t ending up in a landfill somewhere, worrying that I maybe forgot to securely erase the storage drive or even the hassle of sending it in for recycling or sale.

Of course, when I do hand off a “new” Mac to a family member, I’m generally the one stuck getting rid of their old one. So I guess eventually it ends up getting recycled anyway—but by then the thing is so old that I don’t mind just removing the storage drive and smashing it.

What do you do with your Macs that you replace with newer models? Experience the joy of hand-me-downs?

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Since I have little immediate family, my used equipment gets sold to family and friends at very much reduced prices (usually a bit less than Apple or Sell Your Mac appraises it at). The one downside of knowing the folks who are running your old equipment is that you, of course, are also first-level support :)

For notebooks, I always keep my last one as a spare/backup in case the new one needs repair, and, since I upgrade every 5-6 years or so, that means my second oldest one is way too old to give or sell to anyone, so I just arrange with Apple for them to take it for recycling.

Pretty much the same with desktops; we have a summer house, so the old one goes there. I’m inclined to go even longer between updates for iMacs.

I keep old Mac Pros as servers on our network at home. Headless of course and only controllable via screen sharing. Which they do. It proved useful when my sister had me set up her archive of video art she had made, some of which involved very old versions of iMovie and Final Cut. I could actually run them on these older Mac Pros and set up fresh master copies of her files.

I also keep old Macs we did significant work on. I have the old Mac Pro we cut our first feature film on under my desk. Mostly used now to rest my feet on I have to admit.

Hand me downs, if I can. Once I passed down an Apple Cube to my wife’s cousin (who had never owned a computer). He used that for years, finally replacing it with a Mac Mini. He used the Cube to organize a health care service for his small town - he still mentions that if it wasn’t for the gift of the Cube, he would never have been able to do it.

In the 90’s, while working as a Mac consultant, I would donate all the machines clients would give me (after upgrading, etc) to the local newspaper for the homeless.

Donating an unused computer can really make a difference.

They are boxed up and in storage:
Apple IIc
Macintosh LC
SuperMac C500
iMac G3 Rev B
iMac G4
iMac G5 ALS
PowerBook 145b
PowerBook G4
MacBook Air

I did give my Mac Quadra 605 (it was replaced by the SuperMac C500) to my brother’s family who somehow trashed it.

I currently have in operation my Mid-2011 iMac Intel, and my Mid-2015 MackBook Pro.

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My first ones were a PB100 for me, and an LC2 for the office. Between the office, my family and myself, there have been about 50 since (not including Apple printers, cameras, eMates and Newtons). I think I was in most control about System 8.6, where I knew what every file on the drive did, and I could ruthlessly prune them to save space (Open Transport? Out! Classic networking works fine etc)
Macs are so fast now that for my needs (the most demanding being some light photo editing in Affinity Photo) almost anything is grand. Consequently I change machines when something breaks—and I have only ever had two Macs break, sadly both recently—and this has affected my perception of them. Two of my older MBAs run Linux Mint, and I could manage OK with it alone, but it is still a pain to install and upgrade some things.

Thankfully, the family members that I usually pass these Macs down to are “light” users - the most demanding of which simply want to keep their photo/video collection organized. It’s rare that I get a “tech support” phone call. But yeah, if there is a problem, I’m generally the first call.

I still have my old Apple gear that is working. I recycled the old machines that died (although I sometimes regret it).

Currently owned (and working, the last time I checked):
Apple //c
Apple IIGS
Mac SE
PowerMac G4 (QuickSilver-2002. Dual 1GHz G4)
iBook G4 (12" Mid 2005)
MacBook Air (11", Mid 2011)
Mac mini server (Mid 2011, 4 core i7)
Mac mini (2018, 6 core i7)

Machines I discarded when the completely failed are a Mac IIci and a Quadra 840av.