One for the super rich fanbois: Ultra-rare functional Apple-1 computer goes on auction

Historic tech real estate has a guide price of $300k


Deep-pocketed fans of historical computing gear, take note: a fully functional Apple-1 computer is going under the hammer, with a guide price of $300,000.

The sale, which is currently live, is being run by the Boston-based RR Auction. The lot consists of the computer, which dates back to 1976, as well as a handful of compatible peripherals from the period including a keyboard, monitor and cassette interface.

Jobs and Wozniak produced the Apple-1 in two distinct batches: the first used the MOS 6502 microprocessors, while the second used a white ceramic Synertek C6502 CPU, and landed with a few cosmetic differences, with the capacitors coming in an all-yellow cladding.

The latter is rarer. Much rarer.

Known as the "NTI model" due to a marking on the logic board, it's believed that only two examples still exist. And this is the model that RR Auction has under the hammer.

The machine has been restored to its original working state by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, with the condition rated at 8/10. Cohen was able to run the computer for eight continuous hours without encountering a fault, the auctioneer said.

Only 200 units of the Apple-1 were created over 10 months, with the machines hand-assembled by Steve Wozniak from their Palo Alto gaff. A relative commercial success, all but 25 units of the Apple-1 were sold to customers, setting the foundations for what is arguably the most commercially successful consumer tech brand on the planet.

The Apple-1 was sold to consumers as ready-to-use kit, which was a relatively rare phenomenon back in those days. This design effectively lowered the barrier to entry for consumers as they wouldn't have to delicately solder components in place.

Indeed, the more capable Apple II expanded on that design philosophy, coming with plastic housing and a keyboard, thereby lowering the barrier to entry further.

In a few short years, Apple's revenue grew from $774,000 to $11m in 1980. In Q4 2019, it turned over $64bn, which is more than the annual GDP of Croatia.

Previous functional Apple-1 computers have sold for over $2m so it wouldn't be surprising if this specimen surpassed its guide price. But if that's too steep for you, you can always buy this PowerBook 190cs, signed by Saint Jobs himself. With an estimate price of $10,000, it's nothing shy of a steal. ®


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