Extremely rare fully-operational Apple I computer up for auction
By Paul Ridden
October 25, 2012
On April 1, 1976, a new company was established to sell a ready-made personal computer designed and built by Steve Wozniak. The first Apple computers were assembled in the family garage of business partner and friend Steve Jobs and sold to the Byte Shop for US$500 each, subsequently retailing for $666.66. The rest, as they say, is history. Apple has since become a colossal consumer electronics concern, and of the 200 or so Apple I computers ever produced, only 43 have survived. Of those, just six are still in working order and one of those is scheduled to hit the auction block in Germany next month.
Unlike computer buyers today, Apple's first customers only got a motherboard full of chips for their cash and had to add their own monitor (or small TV set), power pack, keyboard and cassette recorder (to load in the operating system). The company didn't even offer an outer housing, but Wozniak told the Homebrew Computer Club that his design allowed a user to work on a "human-typable keyboard instead of a stupid, cryptic front panel with a bunch of lights and switches."
The peripherals accompanying the rare working model now being offered by Auction Team Breker of Cologne, Germany are from the period and include a Datanetics ASCII keyboard (as recommended by Apple at the time), a black-and-white Sanyo monitor and an original Panasonic 2102 cassette recorder.
The included Apple-1 operation manual shows the original Apple Computers Co logo depicting Sir Isaac Newton sitting beneath an apple tree (this was changed in February 1977 to the logo still in use today). Both the manual and the schematic bear Wozniak's signature, too.
The only modern additions to the package are a replica cassette-interface-card and the cassettes containing the operating software. The vendor has also offered to travel anywhere in the world and correctly set up the machine for the new user if needed, so long as his expenses are covered.
Collectors hoping to snag themselves a rare piece of Apple's history should circle November 24 on the calendar and note that the live auction is set to start at 1 AM Pacific Time on November 24. The opening bid has been set at €70,000 (about US$90,800).