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Why It’s Rare; original Apple-1 computer up for auction

(Above: Original Apple-1 computer. Offered by RR Auction in our Sept. 25, 2018 live auction event.)

First of its kind: original Apple-1 computer in RR Auction’s Remarkable Rarities auction

RR Auction’s Remarkable Rarities auction (online bidding Sept. 13-24; live auction in Boston on Sept. 25) will feature several exciting items relating to Steve Jobs and Apple. Our spotlight artifact will be an original Apple-1 computer, offered in partnership with Invaluable.com

According to Fortune, the “auction of [this] rare Apple-1 computer could put the new iPhone prices to shame.” They report that approximately 50 models still exist, some in museums worldwide, like the Smithsonian Museum of Art and the Computer History Museum. Further, Fortune notes that previous Apple-1 computers have sold at auction for up to $905,000.

Lot 3027: original Apple-1 computer  important details and features

original Apple-1 computer up for auction, Close-up of fully functional later production ‘Byte Shop’-style Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation, offered by RR Auction
Close-up of fully functional later production ‘Byte Shop’-style Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation. Offered by RR Auction.
Close-up of fully functional later production ‘Byte Shop’-style Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation. Offered by RR Auction.

An amazing, fully functional later production ‘Byte Shop’-style original Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation.

The set includes:
• original Apple-1 board
• original Apple Cassette Interface (ACI)
• original Apple-1 Operation Manual
• two original Apple Cassette Interface manuals
• a period surplus ASCII keyboard
• a period ‘open frame’ Sanyo 4205 video monitor
• a new period-style power supply with original Apple-1 power cable and connector
• period cassette interface cables

This Apple-1 computer was restored to its original, operational state in June 2018 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, and a video of it running and functioning is available upon request. A comprehensive, technical condition report prepared by Cohen is available to qualified bidders; he evaluates the current condition of the unit as 8.5/10. The most remarkable aspect of this Apple-1 computer is that it is documented to be fully operational: the system was operated without fault for approximately eight hours in a comprehensive test.

‘I was totally aware that a revolution was close to starting’

original Apple-1 computer up for auction, Original Apple-1 computer showing itself to be functional with an image of a young Steve Jobs on the screen, offered by RR Auction
Original Apple-1 computer showing itself to be functional with an image of a young Steve Jobs on the screen. Offered by RR Auction.

NPR’s Todd Bookman interviewed our expert, Corey Cohen, about the original Apple-1 computer, on the eve of the company’s latest iPhone roll-out, noting that “before Apple was a trillion-dollar company, before its phones and laptops came to dominate the tech industry, it was just a California startup working out of a garage.” NPR goes on to quote Steve Wozniak as saying “The summer that I built the Apple-1 computer, I was totally aware that a revolution was close to starting,” in a Bloomberg News story in 2014.

Considered “the guy” for expert Apple-1 restoration, Cohen spent considerable time demonstrating proof of life for RR Auction on the artifact. But in addition to its functionality, many passionate collectors will respect its aesthetics as well. “From a layout perspective, it is considered a piece of art,” Cohen told NPR. “Many people hang these on the wall.”

The NPR segment also included commentary from Dag Spicer, senior curator for the Computer History Museum. “The Apple-1 is so iconic of that era, of the garage era of Silicon Valley, that I think there is almost no other object that really encapsulates what it does culturally and technologically,” Spicer told NPR, noting that the museum’s own Apple-1 computer is one of their most popular pieces.

For Boston news channel 7, Cohen asserted the item’s functionality these 40+ years later, and Invaluable CEO Bob Weisberg discussed its partnership with RR and the special Artmyn technology used to showcase the item. 

Mashable reports that Apple-1 computer expert Corey Cohen has given this artifact a grade of 8.5/10, given its condition and the fact that it is operational.

Cohen produced the proof of life video below for RR Auction; note the amusing juxtaposition of the 1976 original Apple-1 computer and the iPod used to confirm functionality:

original Apple-1 computer up for auction, Operation Manual included with an original Apple-1 computer, being offered by RR Auction
Operation Manual included with an original Apple-1 computer, being offered by RR Auction.

In The Byte Shop: it started with hobbyists

An amazing, fully functional later production ‘Byte Shop’-style Apple-1 computer (also commonly known as the Apple I, or Apple Computer 1), complete with all components and accessories required for operation. Offered by RR Auction.

The Apple-1 was originally conceived by Steve Jobs and Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak as a bare circuit board to be sold as a kit and completed by electronics hobbyists, their initial market being Palo Alto’s Homebrew Computer Club. Seeking a larger audience, Jobs approached Paul Terrell, owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, one of the first personal computer stores in the world. Aiming to elevate the computer beyond the realm of the hobbyist, Terrell agreed to purchase 50 Apple-1 computers, but only if they were fully assembled. The Apple-1 thus became one of the first ‘personal’ computers which did not require soldering by the end user. All together, over a span of about ten months, Jobs and Wozniak produced about 200 Apple-1 computers and sold 175 of them.

The later production ‘Byte Shop’-style of this Apple-1 is indicated by discrete component dates which match other known Apple-1 boards of similar vintage, assembled and sold by Apple in the fall of 1976 and early 1977. On the left side, the board is marked: “Apple Computer 1, Palo Alto, Ca. Copyright 1976.” Unlike many of the known Apple-1 boards, this unit has not had any modifications to the physical board, and the prototype area is clean and unused. The Apple-1 is not only a marvel of early computing ingenuity, but the product that launched what is today one of the most valuable and successful companies in the world.

Original Apple-1 computer showing a Star Trek program running, and a modern iPod. Offered by RR Auction.

Please reference our companion catalog for additional details on the original Apple-1 computer.

In addition to the Apple-1 computer, we have a half-dozen more artifacts relating to Steve Jobs and Apple. We have written in the past about Steve Jobs being a renowned reluctant signer, so we are pleased to be able to offer four spectacular examples of Steve Jobs autographs in the September auction in our Steve Jobs featured artifacts.

RR Auction has had great success as we sell Steve Jobs autographs at auction.

For more information on bidding in our Remarkable Rarities live auction, to attend the event in Boston, or inquiries about consigning your own items, please contact us.

 

Click here if you would like to sell Steve Jobs autographs with us.

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