An Apple collector who was selling his vintage Apple software collection on eBay received a surprise earlier this month when Apple itself bought out much of his software inventory for its software archives (via MacGeneration).
According to seller "Marcoguy," he made several listings of various Apple CDs and received a message from someone asking to buy a dozen discs. When he went to ship the package, he noticed it was going to 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, Apple's corporate address. Upon asking the buyer about the purchase, he was told that Apple maintains a lab at its headquarters containing archived materials. "We were missing some of the disks that you placed on eBay," wrote the buyer.
So yeah, Apple bought some of their own software back from me. :) Feel free to post if you've had a similar experience, as I would love to hear about it. I knew Microsoft has a pretty robust archive of their history, but I wasn't aware Apple does too until this happened.
Just goes to show how necessary this community is. If is wasn't for collectors like us, so much software would just be lost, out of the grasp of even the companies that produced it.
It's not clear how much Apple paid to fill out its archives, but the seller lists his software at prices ranging from $9.95 to $19.95. It's also not known exactly what Apple purchased, but the seller is offering many rare CDs from the early 90s, including a beta version of Apple's System 7 operating system and a disc from WWDC in 1994.