Historic Protoype Of Apple I At Auction
Written by Lucy Black   
Friday, 29 July 2022

A broken and battered prototype board has gone up for auction at a Boston-based online auction house. Despite its sad and sorry state this historic item, the Apple Computer A board which was hand soldered by Steve Wozniac and used by Steve Jobs to secure its first big order is expected to sell for a more than $500,000


Any Apple 1 is a collector's item by virtue of being rare. Dating from 1976, there were two production runs which resulted in only 200 being built. Of these 175 were sold and the remaining 25 destroyed when Apple dropped the model from price list in October 1997. The number of models in circulation was further limited as Apple I owners were offered trade-in deals for Apple IIs and recovered boards were also destroyed. It is not surprising then that surviving examples of the computer that sparked the revolution in home computing, and launched a company that is still at the forefront of consumer technology, are sought after.

Our most recent report of an Apple 1 auction was for a model known as the "Celebration" Apple I which fetched $815,000 at an online auction organized by Charitybuzz in 2016. As an early prototype, thought at the time possibly to be the first, it was expected to raise $1 million but this didn't materialize and the record for the the highest price for an Apple 1 continued to be $905,000. This was paid at Bonhams in New York in 2014 for fully functioning model, one of only perhaps 6 in working condition.

The reason that this obviously damaged prototype board is that it has been verified as the unit that Steve Jobs used to demonstrate the functioning of the Apple-1 to Paul Terrell, the owner of the Byte Shop in Mountain View, California.Terrell, who was persuaded to place an order for 50. Wozniak later described this sale as:

"the biggest single episode in all of the company's history. Nothing in subsequent years was so great and so unexpected."

Thanks to Polaroid photographs taken by Paul Terrell in 1976 have been able to confirm that  this is the Apple 1 prototype, listed as #2 on the Apple 1 Registry, which had been and considered 'lost'.



The provenance report on the item indicates it had been kept on the 'Apple Garage' property for many years before being given by Steve Jobs to its current owner approximately 30 years ago in the era when Jobs had been ousted from Apple and was looking forward to the promise of NeXT and Pixar.

According to the lot description on the RR website:

The board's present condition lends some insight into Jobs's judgment of it: he saw the prototype not as something to be enshrined, but as something to be repurposed. Several of the ICs have been plucked from their sockets, as have the microprocessor and other components, presumably for use on early production Apple1 Computers.

The board's value is also enhanced by it having been  hand-soldered by Steve Wozniak, whose unusual 'three handed' technique, wire in one hand, soldering iron in the other, and solder held in his mouth,is evident in the tight 'bubbles' formed at the soldered connections.

Several 'point to point' circuit corrections were made on the back of the prototype to make the system functional, and appropriate revisions were incorporated into the first production run of Apple-1 PCBs. The layout of the circuit traces on the prototype board therefore differs from that on the production PCB.

As RR puts it, few Apple artifacts could be considered as rare, early, or historic as this Apple-1 prototype. To date 19 bids have been made, with  but many more can be expected before the auction ends on August 19th.



More Information

Steve Jobs's Apple-1 Computer Prototype

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Last Updated ( Friday, 29 July 2022 )