An Apple-1 Personal Computer to be Auctioned Off by Christie's

By Ed Silverstein November 12, 2010

A piece of computer history will go on sale later this month when famed auction house, Christie's, sells Apple's first product: the Apple-I personal computer. The expected price, according to Apple Insider, is in an estimated range of $160,000-$240,000.

In 1976, years before the Mac, iPod, iPhone or iPad, the first Apple was assembled and shipped from the garage at Steve Job's parents' house. From these humble origins, the home computer revolution was started, according to Christie’s.

Christie’s says that the Apple-1 was the first home personal computer to feature a fully pre-assembled motherboard. This was a major step forward. Prior to this, all home personal computers were sold as kits that involved soldering skills and a knowledge of electronics. The Apple-1 was sold without a keyboard, monitor or power supply, and it didn't have a casing, but in principle it worked straight out of the box.

Christie’s explains that modern Apple products still embody this philosophy, and can trace their lineage back to the Apple-1.

In July 1976, the Apple-1 went on sale priced at $666.66, and units were packed in a simple cardboard box. The example Christie's is selling is complete in this original packaging -- an extremely rare survival -- with the garage's return address on the typed label. In superb condition, complete with the original packaging, manuals, cassette interface and basic tape, early documentation and provenance, the lot also includes a commercially rare letter from Steve Jobs.

This letter, typed on ruled notepad-paper, and signed in a clear, legible hand "Steven Jobs,” emphasizes the simple beginnings of the company. So too does the invoice dated "12/7/76,” typed on a "Rediform" invoice pad. The manuals have the company's original logo of Newton sitting underneath the apple tree; the iconic Apple logo had yet to be adopted.

It is not clear how many Apple-1s were sold, but it was available for 15 months, being officially discontinued by October 1977, and some estimate 200 were produced. Although perhaps as many as a quarter of these still survive, very few are in such good, near-original condition with associated ephemera and full provenance, says Christie’s.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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