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Apple scrambles to restock iMacs

The company says it is distributing "tens of thousands" more as many retailers report the new computer is selling out.

The iMac buying spree is going strong, and Apple Computer says it will refill dealer shelves by the weekend.

Many retailers reported complete sell-outs of the snazzy new computer, See special report: Apple's gambit and many took orders for iMacs scheduled for delivery this weekend and beyond.

"iMacs sold out at most of our dealers this past weekend," said Steve Jobs, Apple's interim CEO in a statement. "We are refueling them with tens of thousands more for this weekend."

"The iMac has been the biggest computer launch we've seen in our history," said Jim Halpin, CompUSA president and CEO. "Apple is back, and iMacs are flying off CompUSA store shelves across the United States."

CompUSA has reportedly sold "thousands" of iMacs since Saturday, although the company has not offered specific sales numbers.

So far, Apple hasn't yet experienced glitches in iMac production. In the past, Apple has made grievous errors in manufacturing--which resulted in the recall of PowerBooks and some consumer systems in 1996--and historically has built fewer machines than demanded at the time of product launch, analysts have said.

But the company has to produce more iMacs to make the same amount of money it could generate by selling fewer of the more expensive G3 desktop and notebook systems. If iMac sales taper off too quickly and there is simultaneously a lack of high-end products, revenues could be negatively impacted.

The iMac got off to a bang Saturday as pent-up demand lead to a flurry of sales.

DataVision, a reseller with stores in Long Island and New York, had its highest single day sales total in the company's history, according to a representative. Its inventory of iMacs sold out, and the company reported brisk sales of other Mac desktop and notebook computers as well.

MacMall, another Macintosh reseller, said they were inundated with orders. A sales representative said they shipped 1,200 iMacs on Saturday morning.

Jobs estimates that there are 16 million customers that could potentially buy new Macs but have been reluctant to do so because of questions about the company's viability and the lack of a compelling product.

The $1,299 iMac is the company's response to such concerns, and also fills a big hole in Apple's PC lineup: This is the first new full-blown Macintosh consumer system in over a year.

The box comes with a 233-MHz 750 PowerPC processor, a 4GB hard disk drive, 32MB of memory, built-in networking, an internal modem, and a CD-ROM drive. It also features 512K of high-speed "secondary cache" memory, which boosts performance.

It does not have a floppy drive, however, which is a concern for some buyers.