Apple's Final Lisa Burial

Obsolete Computers Junked at Dump

R. Anne Thayne, staff writer
The Herald Journal

Logan, Utah -- September 24, 1989 -- The seagulls and other assorted creatures at the Logan landfill might be a bit smarter this week than last thanks to the deposit of about 2,700 computers in the dump.

The computers - obsolete, used Apple Lisa's - were destroyed last week at the landfill as a result of a business decision by Apple.

City workers buried more than 22 loads of computers - more than 880 cubic yards - at $1.95 a yard - in the rubble at the landfill under the watchful eyes of security guards hired by Apple.

The Lisa's were marketed between 1983 and 1986 and sold between $5,000 and $10,000 at one time. Now, however, the technology is outdated, so Apple is able to receive a tax writeoff because of depreciation.

By destroying the computers, the company could receive about $34 for every $100 of depreciated value as a tax break, according to a corporate tax specialist with the Salt Lake City branch of one of the nation's leading accounting firms, who asked that he and the company he represents not be identified.

Because the value of the computers has depreciated so much he said Apple will receive more money by destroying them than it would if company representatives donated them to schools, or sold them to private business people.

Carleen Lavasseur, an Apple spokeswoman at company headquarters in California, said the computers were in poor condition and many were broken.

Lavasseur said Apple made the decision to "scrap" the computers rather than sell them to a Logan company, Sun Remarketing, which has had them on consignment since 1985. She said that decision was based on financial considerations.

"Right now, our fiscal year end is fast approaching and rather than carrying that product on the books, this is a better business decision," Lavasseur said.

Sun Remarketing, owned by Robert Cook. purchased 5,000 of Apple's Lisa's at the same time that it received on consignment the computers that were scrapped last week. By refitting them with current technology. Cook said his company was able to market the computers.

It has been a successful venture, Cook said, so now the company is moving away from having Lisa's exclusively to refitting other kinds of obsolete computer brands.

"It doesn't do us any good to stay in one computer - we're selling other things these days as well," he said.

Cook said he had been storing in Logan the computers Apple had destroyed last week and that is why they were dumped at the Logan landfill.

Lavasseur said the decision to dispose of the computers was also made because Apple did not want them on the market. That would have forced Apple to continue to carry indefinitely the cost of keeping parts and servicing available for the Lisas.

"When we carry inventory like this, we also have to carry the service - even though Sun was selling them and servicing them, there is still a cost to Apple for carrying the service stock," she said.

Cook said he has no animosity toward Apple for destroying the computers. He said the two companies have had - and will continue to have - an "extremely" good relationship.

"I understand that this was just a business decision, and I have no problem with that," he said.

But he said he is concerned that the federal government has created a situation that makes it more lucrative for companies to destroy outdated technology rather than make it available to private enterprise.

"That's the tragedy of this," he said. "Financially, this is the best choice Apple has. This is a case of government intervention in capitalism that isn't working. It is working for Apple, but not for me."

Lavasseur would not comment on whether other financial matters might have made trashing the computers the most attractive option.

Logan landfill crews dispose of thousands of Apple computers
(Photo: Kevin Rice)

Copyright 1989