- Steve Jobs in 1984.
- Apple is selling iPhones that cost more than $1,000, in line with the company’s strategy to be known as a luxury brand.
- But when Apple first started selling its computers, the company was regularly pricing its products in the thousands – and sometimes, at five-figure costs.
- The most expensive products Apple has ever sold include not only some of its oldest desktop computers, but also some newer laptops and wearables.
Apple has always been known for its steep prices. From phones to computers, tablets to cases, if it’s coming from Apple, it will probably be one of the priciest options available.
This reputation for being expensive has spawned a nickname that has become popular with critics of the company: “Apple tax.” The thinking went that customers were willing to pay more to have the famous Apple logo adorn their products.
It seemed that Apple may have been moving away from that image, when its Apple Watch and AirPods were being sold at more affordable prices. However, its newest line of iPhones cost more than $1,000, bringing back the idea that Apple is becoming a luxury brand once again.
We took a look back on some of the most expensive products that Apple has ever offered.
Nick Vega contributed to an earlier version of this report.
21. Apple III (1981) — $3,815
- Flickr/Mark Mathosian
The Apple III provided an update to the company’s lucrative Apple II line of computers. The Apple III was advertised as twice as fast as and having twice the memory of its predecessor.
The Apple III went for $3,815 with the monitor included. This line of computers was discontinued in 1984, after just four years, with only 65,000 units sold in total.
20. Macintosh XL (1984) — $3,995
The Macintosh XL was actually first named the Lisa 2/10, because it borrowed much of the technologies from the Lisa computer. But when it went to market, the Mac XL was branded as the “first high-end Macintosh.”
The Macintosh XL was made available as a free upgrade to owners of the first-generation Lisa, but those who didn’t own a Lisa model paid up to $3,995 for the Macintosh XL.
19. Macintosh SE/30 (1989) — $4,900
The SE/30 was the second generation of Mac’s compact computers, providing a smaller version of the Mac IIx, but with more power. With a hard drive, the SE/30 cost $4,900.
It was discontinued in October 1990.
18. Pro Display XDR — $4,999
- Business Insider/Lisa Eadicicco
Apple’s Pro Display for its new Mac Pro measures 32 inches and boasts a 6016 x 3384 Retina 6K display. The screen is more than 40% larger than that of Apple’s Retina 5K display, and the company claims its polarizer technology should deliver accurate colors even when viewing the display off-axis.
17. Macintosh IIcx (1989) — $5,369
This Mac IIcx was a successor to the Mac IIx model, except the IIcx was smaller than the previous model. The IIcx had a modular design so the Mac could be more easily manufactured and put together, which Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée demonstrated by assembling one live on stage.
Purchasing the Mac IIcx cost users $5,369.
16. Macintosh II (1987) — $5,498
- The Apple Museum
The Mac II was actually the first Apple computer with a modular design, and was the first in a line of modular design versions to come. It was also the first Mac with color, which could be added using a graphics card.
Though the version running a floppy disk system was lower in price at $3,898, the Mac II with a 40 MB hard drive cost $5,498.
15. PowerBook G3 (1997) — $5,699
Nicknamed “Kanga,” this portable computer helped to launch several generations of G3s to come (like the Wallstreet and Pismo models).
It was only on the market for six months before it was replaced by its more powerful successors.
14. Macintosh Quadra 700 (1991) — $5,700
The Quadra 700 is the first Apple computer to be housed in a tower-like, vertical-situated case. Before, Apple’s computers adhered to a form where the computer would be positioned as a base for the monitor to stand on.
The new-and-improved desktop model cost $5,700 when it was first sold.
13. Mac Pro (2019) — $5,999
The newest version of Apple’s Mac Pro is a powerhouse of a computer that starts at roughly $6,000. It runs on Intel Xeon processors that can be configured up to 28 cores, is compatible with Apple’s new Afterburner accelerator card that makes it possible to play back three streams of 8K RAW video at once, and features a new modular design.
The company unveiled the Mac Pro during its Worldwide Developers Conference in June 2019 and will release it in the fall.
12. PowerBook 3400c (1997) — $6,500
At the time of release, the PowerBook 3400c was advertised as the world’s “fastest notebook computer.” Its speed was comparable to some of the desktop Mac computers at the time, which was a rarity.
The PowerBook 3400c went for $6,500 fully loaded.
11. Apple LaserWriter (1985) — $6,995
The draw of the Apple LaserWriter was that it could be shared by over a dozen Macintosh computers. This ability made the $7,000 price tag – nearly $16,000 today – a bit easier to swallow for businesses that ran on Macintosh.
The LaserWriter was one of the very first laser printers available on the mass-market, and it helped usher in the desktop publishing revolution.
Still, though, that’s a really expensive printer.
10. Mac Pro (2013) — $6,999
- Getty Images/Justin Sullivan
As we wait for Apple to unveil its new Mac Pro in 2019, the model currently being sold is from 2013. Still, the Mac Pro is a powerful workstation designed for creatives that need professional video and photo editing.
The Mac Pro starts at $2,999, but maxing out its built-in features – a 12-core processor, 64GB of memory, 1TB of storage – will cost you $6,999.
9. Macbook Pro (2016) — $7,049
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
The MacBook Pro is a super high-powered, high-performance laptop that can run complex photo and video editing software. Instead of a row of function keys, the keyboard has a Touch Bar so you can control certain apps right from there.
Selecting the bigger 15-inch model, and picking the best customizable features – 2.9GHz processor, 4TB of storage, 32GB of memory, Vega 20 graphics – will cost you $7,049.
8. Macintosh Portable (1989) — $7,300
- SSPL/Getty Images
In September 1989, Apple unveiled its first “portable” computer. I put “portable” in quotes because although the computer wasn’t connected to the wall by a cord, it still weighed a back-breaking 16 pounds – not unlike schlepping around an enormous bowling ball.
For the privilege of being able to lug around this machine, the company asked only that you write them a check for $7,300 – about $14,300 today.
7. Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh (1997) — $7,499
- Photos courtesy of Portfolio/Penguin, publisher of JONY IVE, The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products
The Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh – or TAM, as those in the know called it – was a truly unique piece of technology. It was released in March 1997, but despite not fitting into any Apple product line, it was the prehistoric ancestor of the modern-day iMac, with all the components held in a slim body behind the screen.
What set it apart from the pack was that it was significantly more expensive than any other Apple offering at the time. The TAM could be had for $7,500, which would be about $11,200 today.
However, in a little less than a year, the price got slashed to $1,995 to clear stock. When the TAM was finally sold out, it was discontinued.
6. Macintosh IIci (1989) — $8,800
The Mac IIci came after the IIcx, providing more power and RAM to the desktop computer. The design was also a bit sleeker than its predecessor.
With a 40MB hard drive, the IIci cost $8,800 when it went on the market in 1989.
5. Macintosh IIx (1988) — $9,369
- Tech Perspectives/YouTube
The IIx came out in 1988 as an update to the original Macintosh II, meaning that this computer powered a color display as well. At the time of its release, Apple lauded the IIx as a computer that would “reinforce our position in key business and higher education markets.”
With a 80MB hard drive, this computer was sold at $9,369.
4. Apple Lisa (1983) — $9,995
- SSPL/Getty Images
If you saw Aaron Sorkin’s 2015 biopic “Steve Jobs,” you’ll likely remember the Apple LISA. Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender, spends most of the movie saying the computer wasn’t named after his daughter Lisa, until he finally admits it was.
What the movie doesn’t spend too much time on is the fact that the LISA cost a whopping $9,995 in 1985. For those keeping score at home, that means the LISA would cost just over $24,000 today, after inflation.
For that price, buyers in 1985 were getting a true technical pioneer – the LISA was the first mouse-operated computer to have a graphical user interface system.
3. Macintosh IIfx (1990) — $12,000
By the time the IIfx was released in 1990, Apple had been making computers for 14 years and had sold 15 different models before this one. Apple marketed the computer as an ultra-fast system that could make an impact in the “workplace market,” but the IIfx lagged behind other PC computers in existence at the time.
Its intention to a be computer for the workplace led Apple to price the IIfx at $9,780, running upwards to $12,000.
2. iMac Pro (2017) — $13,199
- Kif Leswing/Business Insider
Apple’s most expensive computer is aimed at those who need crazy amounts of computing power – such as audio and video editors, and software developers.
The iMac Pro with its default configurations is already impressive, and costs $4,999. But maxing out the computer’s upgraded features will put the iMac Pro at $13,199.
1. Apple Watch Edition (2015) — $17,000
- Stefanie Loos/Reuters
The Apple Watch hit stores in 2015 with the somewhat-reasonable price of $349 for the baseline model. Watch collectors, however, are not usually known for paying somewhat-reasonable prices for things. You see, a nice watch is as much a statement piece as it is a time-telling device.
Apple was more than happy to scratch that itch for collectors, announcing a version of the Apple Watch, called “Edition.” The price started at $10,000 for a watch with rose gold casing, and went as high as $17,000 for one that came with an 18-karat yellow or rose gold case and clasps.
It soon became apparent to Apple that most people – other than Beyonce – had no interest in a smartwatch that cost as much as a car. By the time the Apple Watch Series 2 rolled around, the Apple Watch Edition was given a ceramic casing, was being marketed as a fitness device rather than a style piece, and topped out at $1,300. Apple discontinued the Edition altogether last fall.