It seems like with any sort of popular product, there is a certain cycle regarding it’s availability. At first, you can buy it new at retail fairly easily, then the next new thing comes out and it gets harder to find at retail, but is marked down significantly. Then the secondary market opens up (ie. eBay, Craigslist, Garage Sales, Flea Markets, etc.) and you can get whatever you were looking for for dirt cheap because everybody wants to blow it off. Then, finally, as things get more rare or collectable, they begin to fetch higher prices. I’ve noticed classic video game consoles start to trend this way within the past few years – still highly available, but people are beginning to ask more for them (more about that in another blog post), and the Apple II seems to be heading toward the tail end of this cycle.
Looking at various info sources, it looks like even as recently as 5 years ago, old IIGS hardware and accessories were cheaply and readily available through eBay. Nowadays, basic systems are still plentiful (for example, I could have picked up a full Limited Edition “Woz” last week for $150 plus shipping) but they typically don’t come with much in the way of upgrades, and it is becoming more and more difficult to find the upgrades on their own. For example, a Transwarp GS card was listed a couple of weeks ago, and sold for $425. One of those might pop up once every few weeks to a month.
That being said, as long as you are patient and keep an eye on the auctions, you can find the occasional gem. While the Apple 1MB RAM cards are still relatively plentiful (even if most of them are only fitted with 256kb) 4 and 8MB RAM cards are almost impossible to come by on eBay nowadays (although you can still purchase Sirius cards from 16sector.com. They’re a bit pricy though.) – fortunately for me, I managed to find a 4MB Sequential Systems RAM GS card for a decent price, and it works! So, with 5MB of RAM total, I’m now able to take better advantage of the hardware and run GS/OS software and games that I couldn’t before. Another item off the checklist!