Rare operating Apple 1 rakes in $374,500 at Sotheby’s auction

Apple 1 hand-built by Wozniak is thought to be one of six operational units

It's not one of a kind but pretty darn close.  Sotheby's this week auctioned off a rare working Apple 1 computer for $374,500 to an unnamed bidder. The price was more than double the expected price listed on the Sotheby's web site.

The Sotheby's notes about the Apple 1 say it is one of six thought to be operational boxes and one of about 50 known to exist. 

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The Sotheby's write-up of the Apple 1 reads like this:  Operational Apple Computer I. An AppleI motherboard, labeled on obverse Apple Computer I, Palo Alto, CA.  Copyright 1976.Includes circuit board with four rows A-D and columns 1-18; MOS Technologies 6502microprocessor,labeled MCS 6502 3776; video terminal; keyboard interface; 8K bytes RAM in16-pin 4K memory chips; 4 power supplies including 3capacitors; firmware in PROMS (A1, A2) low-profile sockets on all integrated circuits; breadboard; heatsink; expansion connector; cassette board connector. (15 1/8 x 9 in.; 385 x 234 mm).

Together with: Apple I cassette Interface, labeled Apple I Cassette Interface Copyright 1976, partial "G" lettered in triangle on reverse, in black ink manuscript (4 x 2 in.; 102 x 50 mm). - Apple-I Operation Manual. Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company. 12 pp.in wrappers (11 x 8 1/2 in.; 280 x 214 mm), with 8 circuit diagrams, 2 on foldout printed verso and recto, one full page; with original Apple Computer Co. logo on upper wrapper; tear along fold, light staining on wrapper and bottom right corner. - Apple-I Cassette Interface Manual, Palo Alto: Apple Computer Company. Oblong 8 pp. bifolia (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.; 140 x 215 mm), with some staining to wrappers; original logo on upper wrapper, warranty on lower wrapper - Preliminary Apple BASIC Users Manual. Palo Alto: Apple Computer  Company, October 1976. 8 stapled sheets (11 x 8 1/2 in.; 280 x 214 mm), printed verso and recto, with first sheet on blue paper with tear along staple and manuscript "Randy J. Suess." Some staining to first and last page, with tear on last page. -  Double-sided advertisement with illustration for  Apple I Computer and the Apple Cassette Interface, with manuscript note (11 x 8 1/2 in.; 280 x 214 mm).

Apple 1s were hand built by Apple's co-founder Steve Wozniak and originally sold for about $666 without a keyboard, monitor or power supply.

The Sotheby's notes on the Apple 1 also provide a little history:

"When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs presented the Apple I Computer to the Homebrew Computer Club in 1976, it was dismissed by everyone but Paul Terrell, the owner of a chain of stores called Byte Shop. Terrell ordered 50 computers for $500 a piece, insisting that the circuit boards come fully assembled rather than as DIY kits similar to the Altair, and Jobs and Woz managed to produce the requisite computers in 30 days. They continued production, immediately creating 50 additional Apple I's to sell to friends and an additional 100 to sell through vendors, at a retail price of $666.66, a number that garnered complaints among conservative Christians, but provided a lucrative 33% markup."  

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