What just happened? A 45-year-old working Apple-1 computer, one of just a few still remaining, has sold for $400,000 at auction. Only 200 of the machines were designed by Steve Wozniak and assembled and tested by Steve Jobs, his sister Patty Jobs, and Daniel Kottke in the Jobs’ Los Altos home.
John Moran Auctioneers in Monrovia, California, auctioned off the Apple-1 on Tuesday. Experts had been predicting it would fetch around $500,000. And while it went for $100,000 less than that figure, the auction house had estimated it would sell for between $400,000 and $600,000.
After finishing the Apple-1 computers in 1976, 175 were sold for $666.66, reportedly because of Wozniak’s love of repeating numbers. This particular model was one of 50 sold to the ByteShop in Mountain View, California. Owner Paul Terrell wasn’t happy with what he received as he expected them to be ready for buyers to plug in and use. However, Jobs pointed out that all the necessary components were in the box, and Terrell could make a profit by selling keyboards, monitors, and power supplies within the store. It was ByteShop that added the koa wood case; there are just six known examples of these units still in existence.
Only two people owned this Apple-1: the original buyer, an electronics professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, California; and the student he sold it to in 1977—the professor wanted to upgrade to an Apple II.
The auction house writes that the model has recently undergone an extensive authentication, restoration, and evaluation process by one of the foremost experts in the field, who inspected all components and generated a full condition report.
The lot included a copy of of the professional authentication and condition report, a proof of life DVD, user manual and operations guide, a 1986 Panasonic video monitor, Apple software on two cassette tapes, and three original video, power, and cassette interface cables.
While $400,000 is no small amount of money, it’s less than half that of the highest auction price ever fetched by an Apple-1: a working version sold for $950,000 at Bonhams in New York in 2014.
Images: John Moran auctioneers, inc.