Rare Apple-1 Computer Sells at German Auction for $130,000

A rare working Apple-1 computer that was built in Steve Jobs' garage has been sold at auction in Germany for over $130,000 (via news24).

The highly sought-after vintage computer auctioned off in Cologne on Saturday was one of just 200 that the late Apple co-founder and Steve Wozniak designed and marketed in 1976.


The owner John Dryden, a Californian software engineer, admitted that finally parting with the machine was difficult. "(The Apple 1) was one of the first opportunities for someone to possess a real computer," he said. "I'd been working with computers for a while but they were huge."

The Apple-1 was sold with the original receipt for the motherboard and cassette recorder, an operating manual, and even notes of telephone conversations between Dryden and Wozniak from 1977. Apple never offered an external housing for the computer, while the power supply, keyboard, monitor, and cassette recorder had to be obtained separately by the owner.

This machine was actually expected to fetch significantly more than it did this weekend, after an Apple-1 sold for a record $905,000 at a Bonhams auction in New York in October 2014. More recently, a unique "celebration" model went for $815,000 at a CharityBuzz auction in August of last year.


Breker's auction house, which hosted the sale and specializes in technical antiques, put the lower price down to a settling of Apple "hype", now coming over five years after the death of Steve Jobs. The winning bidder was a German engineer who collects old computers.

The 8K machine, which originally sold for $666 over 40 years ago, is one of just eight still in working order. There are thought to be only around 50 to 60 Apple-1 computers still in existence.

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Steve Jobs’ Prototype Apple 1 Computer Going on Display in Seattle’s ‘Living Computers’ Museum

Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle, which is dedicated to showcasing the history of computing devices from around the world, is this Friday opening up a wing focused on all things Apple. Called the "Apple Computer Exhibit," visitors will be able to walk through the first two decades of Apple's products and advances in technology, ranging specifically from 1976 to 1999 (via GeekWire).

The prototype Apple 1 computer on display

The exhibit will house what Living Computers executive director Lāth Carlson described as "the most important computer in history," a prototype Apple I that sat in Steve Jobs' office and was used as a demo model in the early years of the company. Visitors will be able to interact with an Apple 1, although it'll be a different version than the Jobs machine, while also viewing Apple computers like the Apple II, IIe, IIc, Apple III, Lisa, and various Macintosh computers.

Although Carlson admitted that Jobs' Apple 1 is “also the most boring to look at," its importance has earned it a spot as the centerpiece of the new exhibit.
“About 200 of these were made, around 70 are known to have survived, and around seven are operable,” Carlson told GeekWire while showing off the museum’s working 1976 Apple I. “We’re going to be running Steve Wozniak’s version of BASIC that he wrote on it.”
The exhibit includes details about Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, the original $666.66 price point for the Apple I, and "much more." A point of focus in the new exhibit is Apple's early connection with Microsoft, and the museum itself was founded by Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates.

“We’ve always actually had a fairly significant Apple collection, and we’ve always had Apples on display,” Carlson said. “I think people a lot of times come here and are a little surprised to see that. They associate us with Paul Allen, with Microsoft. And a lot of times people don’t realize Microsoft provided a lot of the early software and hardware for Apple, and continued to over the years. When Steve Jobs went back to Apple, there was a significant investment by Microsoft — $150 million — to keep the company basically going. And they agreed to keep providing Office for Macs.”
The Apple 1 in question is said to have been used by Jobs and Apple’s first investor, Mike Markkula, as a modified version of the basic computer that the company used to take on the road and showcase its capabilities to potential investors. The machine was left behind by Jobs when he left Apple in 1985, and when Apple allowed employees to clean out his office, an engineer named Don Hutmacher ended up going home with the Apple 1.

When Hutmacher passed away this past year, his family discovered the Apple 1 sitting in his garage, leading to its new residence at Living Computers. Overall, the Apple exhibit in the Seattle-based museum is said to organically fit into the overall story of Living Computers, including the rise of IBM and its support of Microsoft that lead to industry domination. Diverging paths will allow visitors to witness the emergence of Windows 95 in one direction, or the new "evolving story" of Apple in the other direction.


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Rare Functioning Apple-1 Computer Headed to Auction in May

In 1976, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak designed and built the Apple I, or Apple-1, the company's first computer. Of the 175 sold, only 50 to 60 or so remain in existence, including just eight functioning ones, making the iconic machine a rare collector's item worth significantly more than its original $666.66 price.


On May 20, German auctioneer Breker told MacRumors it will be auctioning off one of those eight functioning Apple-1 computers, complete with the original manual and documentation, the receipt for the motherboard and cassette recorder, and even a record of telephone conversations with Steve Jobs and Wozniak.

Based on previous Apple-1 auctions over the years, this latest machine is likely to fetch several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Breker said it auctioned an Apple-1 in comparable original and working condition for $671,400 in May 2013, while a functioning Apple-1 sold for $374,500 at a Sotheby's action in New York in June 2012.


More recently, a functioning Apple-1 sold for a record $905,000 at a Bonhams auction in New York in October 2014, while another working machine went for $365,000 at a Christie's auction in New York two months later. CharityBuzz auctioned a unique "Celebration" model for $815,000 last year.

The Apple-1 was a motherboard kit only and is pictured here with the rare original "NTI" sign. Apple never offered an external housing for the computer, and the peripheral equipment, such as the power supply, keyboard, monitor, and cassette recorder, had to be obtained personally by the owner.

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