22

It would be nice to break it down by model if possible.

  • 1
    Less than whatever Apple says was sold. :) – Thraka May 12 '16 at 17:25
  • @Thraka but more than what the Commodore fanboys said were sold. :-) BTW, I am a fanboy of both Commodore and Apple (8/16 bit). – cbmeeks Mar 20 '17 at 12:23
18

Apple has not released sales figures for their early systems, so your question cannot be answered accurately. I will therefore do so inaccurately. ; - )

Jeremy Reimer published historical computer sales data for an article he wrote.

Starting with that data and using tidbits from other (often conflicting) sources, I derived the following highly questionable figures which I've also shared in Google Docs.

Apple II          64,700
Apple II Plus    545,500
Apple //e      4,250,000
Apple //c        450,000
Apple //c Plus   200,000
Apple IIGS       979,000
Total          6,489,200

The total is more than the Wikipedia estimate of between 5 - 6 million units. Some notes:

  • The Apple II/II Plus figures were calculated from Reimer's totals by naively assuming a 50/50 split for 1979 and 1980. This doesn't affect the combined totals, but gets the II total close to the highest serial found (see the Google Doc). Note that there is a well-known A2S1 serial number jump from the early 40,000s to the 60,000s.
  • BYTE magazine states the II Plus sold 500,000 units, though 750,000 is given elsewhere.
  • A few morsels of //e sales data were provided by the always excellent Digital Antiquarian.
  • The //c and //c Plus figures are perhaps the largest unknown. It's not clear if Reimer's data includes these systems. In particular 1990 and 1991 show no evidence of the //c Plus exit, so I've included them separately.
  • Some sources say the //c sold 400,000 in its first year, whereas the Digital Antiquarian states it "averaged just 100,000 sales per year over its four years". This matches the tone of the book "West of Eden: The End of Innocence at Apple Computer" which chronicles that in summer 1984 "Panic was building over the IIc's performance ... it was dead in the water".
  • I have no data on //c Plus sales so I've naively assumed it sold the same yearly as the //c.
  • The IIGS data comes from Brutal Deluxe's Apple IIgs Serial Number project. Although their estimated total is 2.8 million, a former manager of the Apple II division has stated categorically that no more than 1 million were sold. Their data is useful for a rough sales per year pattern if scaled down to total no more than 1 million - which I have done. The yearly values have also been rounded down. Although the figures aren't accurate, they confirm the next point:
  • The IIGS is almost certainly not included in Reimer's data, as the estimated IIGS sales for 1988 exceed Reimer's total for that year.
  • You didn't ask, but "Two hundred Apple-1 computers were manufactured, and all except twenty-five of them sold over a period of ten months." Only 66 are known to still exist.
  • Again not really relevant, but Apple III and III Plus sales estimates vary from 65,000 to "85,000 units by April 1984". (The latter source is probably more credible.)
  • Reimer's figures obviously do not include the Apple IIe Card because it was sold until 1995.
  • An important corollary is that according to my collated data, the Apple II line propped up Apple during the the first 4 years of the Mac era from 1984-1987. Mac sales finally eclipsed Apple II sales in 1988 (not 1987 as suggested by Reimer's data).
  • Excellent answer. Now, how about including the numbers sold by licensed and un-licensed clones. :-D Like Bell & Howell, Laser 128, etc. The Russian clones would probably be impossible to account for. – cbmeeks Jan 3 '17 at 18:30
  • It would be interesting to know, but there's not much info out there. – Nick Westgate Jan 5 '17 at 10:16
  • Shocked at these low numbers. I believe that the C64/C128 alone sold 14 million. – Brian H Mar 19 '17 at 16:00
  • @BrianH: Yes, you should read Reimer's (rather long) article, or at least Low End Mac's take on it - "Apple Has Always Been a Niche Player". – Nick Westgate Mar 19 '17 at 22:02
5

An attempt is being made by Antoine at Brutal Deluxe Software to estimate IIgs production figures based on serial numbers.

This work is using the fact that the serial number encodes the machine's position within a week's production run at a particular factory. Decode for each factory and week, look for the maximum value reported and you have a method of estimating total production over the product's life cycle.

Antoine is trying to cross-reference this with IIgs keyboard serial numbers (as the computers shipped with a keyboard), but the figures derived from IIgs vs keyboard serial numbers are currently (May '16) way out of sync (~2.6M IIgs's, ~0.9M keyboards).

The ~2.6M figure seems higher than other estimates.

I don't believe Apple ever released definitive numbers of all Apple II's sold, let alone by model.

4

According to Wikipedia, somewhere between 5 and 6 million Apple II series computers were sold between launch in 1977 and discontinuation in 1993. Apparently around 1.25 million of these were models of Apple IIGS.

More information might be available in the referenced book, but I haven't got a copy.

2

Your Apple ][ production number is low, mine is first half of 1979 production and is A2S1-22365. I have seen A2S1 serials as high as 65,515, with a mid (week 20) 1980 production motherboard.

Apple continued to sell the Apple ][ while making the plus, they didn't stop ][ production until early 1981.

Highest A2S2 serial number I've found A2S2-588366, week 5 1983 production (that's after the introduction of the //e in January, 1983), and that doesn't include A2S3 systems (Belll & Howell ][plus).

  • Could you update this answer with information about the quantities of each model? That way it will answer the question instead of just providing related information. – wizzwizz4 Aug 13 '16 at 7:53
  • 1
    Or alternately (and perhaps more appropriately?), since it seems to be a response to Nick's answer anyway, post it as a comment on that and delete this answer. – mnem Aug 13 '16 at 8:10
  • 1
    @mnem Howard will be unable to post a comment on Nick's answer until they reach 50 rep. I'll let wizzwizz decide if this should be converted to a comment. – JAL Aug 13 '16 at 15:11
  • @JAL fair enough, I didn't notice he was a new user. – mnem Aug 13 '16 at 19:43
  • 1
    @Howard Thanks, but as you can see from Antoine's data, serial numbers are a pretty unreliable way to produce totals. The II/II+ split doesn't affect the resulting total, and all I had to go on was Reimer's data - which is in the Google doc I linked to. I would be interested if you can find a reference to back up any figures. Cheers, Nick. – Nick Westgate Aug 15 '16 at 2:48
2

My Apple ][ is SN 66XXX dated week 23 of 1980. I agree with Howard Poe that there were a lot more Apple ][ computers produced than 20,000. If there were only 20,000 produced the price for one would be astronomical but they can still be purchased for a somewhat reasonable price. The release of the Apple ][+ in 1979 was not accompanied by an immediate cutoff of Apple ][ production as the Apple // production timeline graphics would have you believe. So I would definitely revise Nick Westgate's Apple ][ production number, but I think his other guestimates are reasonable, given the limited production data that is available.

  • Welcome to Retrocomputing Stack Exchange. I noticed that you haven't read the tour yet; I recommend reading it to get familiar with how the site works. – wizzwizz4 Mar 19 '17 at 8:54
  • I've addressed this in the latest edit to my answer. Cheers. – Nick Westgate Apr 17 '18 at 22:40

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