Apple-1 computer relic hits the auction block

Christie's pegs the sales estimate as high as $772K, far more than other Apple-1 PCs have sold for recently

Auctioneer Christie's is currently taking online bids for an Apple-1 personal computer, as yet another owner tries to capitalize on the interest in the 39-year-old device that launched the California company climb to fame.

Christie's Apple-1 Christie's

The Apple-1 was originally sold as a stand-alone circuit board without a case, keyboard, monitor or even power supply.

The e-auction for the Apple-1 ends Oct. 29. Christie's has estimated the gavel price between £300,000 and £500,000 -- equivalent to between $US463,000 and $US772,000 -- and began the bidding at £240,000, or about $US370,000.

Those prices are significantly higher than recent sales of other Apple-1 antiques. Last month, auction house Bonhams sold a different Apple-1 at a gavel price of $US300,000, or $US365,000 including the auction house's commission. In April, collector Bob Luther sold one of his Apple-1 computers on eBay for $US236,000.

Both the Bonhams and Luther computers were working units; Christie's said it could not say whether its Apple-1 is operational. "Neither of the electrics nor electronics have been tested," Christie's said. "We assume it could be brought up to working order again, as it was last turned on in 2005.

The Apple-1 was a stand-alone circuit board, and lacked a case, keyboard, monitor or even power supply, all of which computer hobbyists had to provide themselves. Software was loaded into the Apple-1's minuscule standard 4 kilobytes -- upgraded to 8KB by its first owner -- using a cassette tape recorder, or typed in by hand each time the device was powered up.

In 1976, the first Apple-1 personal computers were sold for $666.66, or approximately $2,788 in today's dollars. They remain rare, with about 60 of the original 200 known to exist, several in the hands of museums such as the Smithsonian Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Henry Ford Museum of Dearborn, Mich.

The Christie's Apple-1 was purchased in 1977 by Joe Torzewski, then sold to its current owner -- who Christie's did not identify -- in 2004.

Along with the computer -- since Torzewski's ownership days, enclosed in a white case with integrated keyboard, making it look somewhat like the follow-up Apple II -- the lot includes several data cassettes and the original manuals. Christie's touted the latter in its sales pitch, calling one of them "extremely rare."

Christie's Apple-1 Christie's

The latest antique Apple-1 to hit the market was set inside this custom case by the original owner, Joe Torzewski.

The Apple-1's manuals were written by Ron Wayne, the almost-unknown third partner in Apple. When Apple's founding contract was drawn up in 1976, it boasted three signatures: Steve Jobs', Steve Wozniak's, and Wayne's. Wayne, then 41 and thus the elder statesman, was instrumental in the founding of Apple. He had been recruited by Jobs to convince Wozniak to launch the partnership. For his part, Wayne was offered a 10% share in the new company, Apple Computers.

Wayne relinquished his part of the deal just days later, receiving $800 for his shares. He bowed out in part because of past business venture failures as well as the fact that all the partners were personally liable for any debts the new company might accrue. That original founding contract sold for $1.6 million in 2011.

Last year, Wayne sold his collection of draft copies of the Apple-1's manuals for $20,000 via Christie's.

The Christie's Apple-1 auction is taking place on the London-based auction house's website.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Apple

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?