eBay blast from the past: New-in-box Apple II, never opened

And then after paying US$2,600 for it, the buyer opened the box

If he were to own only one rare computer, "It had to be a IIc. ... It's one of the sexiest computers Apple has ever made," Budiac said. "The computer is as much a piece of art as it is a machine."

And since it runs just one program at a time, it offers the perfect work environment for those easily distracted by e-mail, iTunes, Facebook and Twitter. "I wish more [modern] applications would offer a minimalist, heads-down, nose-to-the-grindstone mode," said Budiac, who uses a MacBook Pro with a 30-in. Cinema Display for his day-to-day computing.

Though some Mac fans may admire Budiac and his computer, a far smaller group is likely to still be using an Apple II in the 21st century. But they do exist: A few diehards have helped the device evolve beyond anything Apple ever intended or imagined. Two programmers in Australia crafted a TCP/IP stack to put the Apple II on the Internet; another enthusiast in England used that tool to create a Web browser and e-mail, FTP and Usenet clients. Those and other users gather every July in Missouri for KansasFest, an annual convention that celebrates the past - and future - of the venerable machine.

"The Apple II continues to fascinate people even today," said Tony Diaz, event coordinator for KansasFest and webmaster of online reference site apple2.info. "Many recall their first introduction to computers with the Apple II, as well as its sleek and simple approach and capabilities right out of the box."

The Apple IIc was introduced at a promotional event dubbed Apple II Forever, a sentiment that sits well with Budiac. "I honestly can't see parting with the computer, ever. Even if I grow bored of reliving the glory days, it's a functioning piece of history, and a beautiful one at that. It's better than anything I'd pick up at an art gallery."

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Ken Gagne

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