If your basement is like mine, cluttered with computers, parts and accessories you might want to look and see if perhaps you have a motherboard labeled, “Apple Computer 1”. If you do, you could just be sitting on a very valuable piece of history.
The first Apple Computer, also referred to as the Apple-1, Apple 1 & Apple I, was the first product of the two Steve’s – Jobs and Wozniak. Incredibly, one just sold at auction at Sotheby’s for a record breaking $374,500 USD, over 560 times its original 1976 retail price of $666.66 (assembled with 4K RAM). The final price of $374.5K (hammer price + buyer’s premium), was more than double the $120K- $180K that this 1MHz geek’s dream was expected to fetch.
For the price of a condominium, of course depending on where you live, it’s not even a whole computer – there’s no monitor, keyboard, power supply or case.
According to Sotheby’s catalogue notes, the Apple 1 package, referred to as “Lot 57 – Apple I Computer”, included the motherboard with a MOS technologies 6502 processor and 8K of RAM, a cassette board connector, some advertising and manuals with specific mention to some tears and staining on the pages.
The catalogue notes refer to this package as “an exceptionally rare, working example with original Apple Cassette interface, operations manual and a rare BASIC User’s Manual.”
It was suggested that fewer than 50 Apple I’s are still around and that only 6 are known to actually be functional. According to Wikipedia, a few others have sold in the past decade with prices ranging from $17,000 (on eBay) to $210,000. The last one and the highest price until now, bore serial #82 and sold at an auction at Christies in the UK, in November 2010.
Just for the record, the oldest computer I have in my basement is the first generation MacPlus, (8MHz 68000 processor and 1MB RAM) circa 1986. I’m confident that in no way would it be worth a six figure value, let alone five or four – but one day, who knows, especially with people opting to get their old electronics recycled.photo credits: Sotheby’s.
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.