Apple 1 Breaks Records In Online Auction
Written by Historian   
Sunday, 16 December 2012

A fully functioning Apple 1, complete with peripherals and BASIC on cassette tape, was sold in November for a record-breaking $630K to an anonymous Internet bidder.

The machine that launched the phenomenon that is Apple was a far cry from today's iPhone. The original Apple, designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak and marketed by Steve Jobs comprised a single board - the user had to supply the case, power supply, keyboard and monitor. Only 200 were ever produced, it is thought there are fewer than 50 still in existence of which 6 are in working order. So the opportunity to buy one is a very rare event.

Even so the price realized by this machine (seen in working order in the video) of 491,868 euros, or $630,000 came as quite a shock given that the starting bid was set at 70,000 euros ($90,638) and an estimate of 120,000-200,000 euros had been made prior to the sale.

 

All the items in the video were included in the sale, as explained in the following extracts from the description, which also reminds us that  the Apple 1 was always delivered as a motherboard only and peripheral equipment had to be obtained personally by the user.

 

 

The peripheral items are authentic and correspond to the motherboard; the power pack has the same 'transformer' which was on the market in 1976 and which was recommended by Apple. The keyboard is a 'Datanetics ASCII' always suggested by Apple for the Apple 1 and later also used for the Apple 2. The monitor is a b/w video control set by Sanyo as normally used by Apple 1owners. The cassette recorder, recommended by Apple, is an original 'Panasonic 2102 Recorder'. 

The notes also mention that the motherboard has  "the very rare original 'NTI' sign".  According to  Mike Willegal's Apple 1 Registry, this suggests it came from the later batch of machines to be produced as the first batch did not have the PCB manufacturer on the front copper layer of the board.

The Apple 1 did not have an operating system, just a "monitor" program which provided the interface between keyboard entry, the CPU and memory, and output ti the monitor and monitor exit. Any additional software, including BASIC (available only after February 1977) had to be loaded on cassettes, requiring a cassette-interface-card, which was offered by Apple as an optional.

The present set contains a modern replica card and the software cassettes are authentic reproductions too.

It also contains its original documentation which is interesting in its own right.

In February 1977 Apple changed their first logo depicting Isaac Newton under a 'paradisical' apple tree to the one which is still used today. The documentation ('Apple 1 Manual') included here still shows the primary logo; this documentation copy corresponds with the original one and the manual and schematic plan show the original signatures of Steve Wozniak.

This listing also covers provenance and after-sales:

The provenance of this unit has been known of and documented since 1993. The former vendor has framed and numbered this set and 3 others. The current vendor has offered to set up, install and put it into operation anywhere in the world in exchange of his expenses.


The guide price had been set taking into account other recent sales at action.  One that had been sold for £133,250 ($212,267) by Christies in November 2010, was exceptional in having a signed letter from Steve Jobs together with its original box and instruction manuals. It was acquired by a private Italian collector,  Marco Boglione, who has restored it to working condition and demonstrated it to students at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy in June 2012.

In terms of price, the previous record was held by a machine sold by Sotherby's in New York for $374,500 in June 2012. It had already changed hands on eBay in September 2010 for over $22,000.

Figures on David Greelish's Classic Computer blog record that the highest eBay price for an Apple 1 to date was $75,600 in June 2012. However, making a profit with an Apple 1 isn't necessarily going to be as easy as this.

One put up for auction at Christie’s in London earlier this month failed to meet its  reserve price of £50,000 pounds ($80,071). The highest bid was only £32,000 pounds so it was withdrawn. The fact it wasn't in working condition probably accounted for its lack of success.

More Information

Classic Computing Blog

The Apple 1 Registry

Auction Team Breker

Lot 20, Apple 1, Computer 1976

Related Articles

Milestones in the History of Apple

Christies sells Apple I but not the Turing papers

Rare Apple I Available at Auction

 

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