Remembering Super Cheap and Super Fast Shipping in the Pre-Internet Early 90s

One of the many feeds in my RSS reader is from the Internet Archive’s Computer Magazines collection. Every so often they’ll dump a bunch of scans of popular computing and gaming magazines into the archive.

This morning some new (old) Mac User magazines made their way to the archive and I virtually thumbed through a few editions. One of the ads reminded me of one of the coolest parts of 90’s computing: super fast and super cheap overnight shipping from mail-order retailers.

One of my favorites was the “Mac Zone” and “PC Zone.” They were located on the West Coast of the USA. With me being on the East Coast I could call them at 4 p.m. my time and often have items delivered to me here in Connecticut by the next morning. The best part? Shipping was only $3! Even adjusting for inflation that’s still super cheap for next day delivery.

Other retailers like the Mac & PC Connection also had attractive freight rates like this. Most of them used “Airborne Express,” a competitor to FedEx (known as Federal Express back then). Airborne Express was later acquired by DHL.

The Mac and PC Zone is still around today. Known simply as “Zones,” they mostly cater to the B2B market offering IT equipment and services. They still have the same toll-free number! The PC and Mac Connection is also still around. They too pivoted more towards the B2B market.