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Where it all started
Long before there was the iPad or the iPhone there was the Apple I computer.
Despite selling for $666 at launch, today surviving Apple 1 machines typically fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars, due to their extreme rarity.
Every year or so, one of the about 50 remaining Apple I machines crops up at auction, often with the distinction of having been hand built by Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in Job’s parents’ garage in Los Altos in 1976.
The flair for design that Apple products would come to be known for is notably absent in Apple’s first computer, with Apple I machines typically selling as bare boards.
With yet another Apple I computer having racked up a six-figure sum at auction yesterday, despite having a 1MHz processor and just 8KB of RAM, here are the surviving Apple I machines that have found their way onto the market over the years.
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This may not look like a u00a31m computer, but this rather rudimentary-looking Apple I came close, selling for a whopping $905,000.
One of the most expensive Apple I computers to sell in recent years, the machine was auctioned off at Bonhams in 2014, and sold alongside a vintage keyboard with pre-7400 series military specification chips, a vintage Sanyo monitor, a custom power supply in a wooden box and two vintage tape-decks.
Thought to be one of the first Apple computers made by Steve Jobs, this machine sold at auction for $815,000 several years back.
Referred to as a ‘Celebration’ Apple I, the machine was especially rare, as no known printed circuit boards of this type were ever sold to the public.
The computer even came with the original manuals and a cassette tape with a BASIC programming environment.
This homebuilt machine created by Apple co-founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs was originally expected to sell for between $260,000 and $400,000, but an anonymous “middle eastern” buyer purchased the machine from Auction Team Breker in Germany for a massive $671,400.
The lucky owner of this machine acquired it for free after swapping it for old computer equipment, but that didn’t stop him auctioning it off for a cool $387,750.
This Apple I was restored to working order just ahead of being sold in an online auction for $375,000 in September 2018.
You can see it running a range of original Apple I software here, including Apple Star Trek, one of the few games created for the system.
This fully-operational Apple I sold for $365,000, and unlike many of its fellow machines had some semblance of a case, a blue metal box, as well as a period Datanetics keyboard in a wooden housing.
This rather messy looking Apple I still managed to fetch $355,000 in an auction at Christie’s New York in 2017.
Believed to be one of only six working Apple I machines at the time of its sale in 2012, this Apple I fetched $347,000 at Sotheby’s, far above its asking price.
The computer was sold alongside a four-page, handwritten memo written by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, outlining how the Atari arcade game World Cup could be improved.
Selling complete with manuals, keyboard, power supply and display, this Apple I fetched $213,000 at Christie’s auction house in London.
One Apple I was literally thrown in the trash by an unwitting homeowner in California, but was rescued by an eagle-eyed recycling firm who sold it for a cool $200,000.
At the time of the sale, the recycling firm was trying to contact the original owner to give her a 50% share of the sale price.
Thought to be one of only eight working Apple I machines left in the world when it was sold in 2017, this Apple I machine fetched $130,000 at an auction in Germany, rather less than the expected top price of $337,000.