Rebooting a part of tech history: Rare, hand-built Apple-1 will hit auction block in November

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Rebooting a part of tech history: Rare, hand-built Apple-1 will hit auction block in November
Apple-1 Computer ,1976-1977. Motherboard, monitor, keyboard, 2 cassette tapes, 3 wires, and various user manuals and associate documents. Est. $400,000-600,000.

MONROVIA, CA.- The year 2021 marks the 45th birthday for Apple. The world’s largest technology company is currently valued in the trillion-dollar range, and it all began with two Steve’s, one garage, and Apple Computer 1, more commonly referred to as Apple-1. The company was created in 1976 when electronic engineer Steve Wozniak (b. 1950) teamed up with marketing guru and industrial designer Steve Jobs (1955-2011). John Moran Auctioneers will give tech lovers the opportunity to own one of the few remaining Apple-1 Computers. This fascinating piece of technological history is in mint condition, featuring many period-correct and original parts, and is in working order. Moran’s flew in the foremost expert in his field to authenticate, inspect, and generate a full condition report for the Apple-1 so that buyers can bid with confidence. The Apple-1 computer will be offered at auction during the Post-war & Contemporary Art + Design sale taking place on November 1, 2021, at 12:00pm PST. Join us one week before the sale during preview hours to see the Apple-1 on display or contact us directly for a private viewing.

The first version of the company’s personal computer built by Steve Wozniak was essentially a motherboard and a manual with instructions on which components needed to be purchased in order to assemble and use the machine. Wozniak contemplated making instructions available on how to build the computer he designed from start to finish for free to anyone who had the patience to create one on their own. Steve Jobs convinced him to instead combine the motherboard and its connections into a magazine box and sell them as a kit.

200 Apple-1 computers were hand-built by Wozniak, Jobs, and a skeleton crew in the garage that belonged to Jobs’ parents. 175 of them were sold for $666.66, a figure that catered to Wozniak’s love of repeating numbers. 50 of the 175 computers were sold to Paul Terrell, owner of Byte Shop in Mountain View, California. When Jobs delivered the 50 Magazine boxes each containing an Apple-1 kit, Paul Terrell was not happy. He anticipated 50 all-in-one units that could simply be plugged in by the consumer, an unheard-of concept at the time. Jobs defended his delivery by pointing out that each box included all necessary elements to compose the machine and further convinced Terrell that Byte Shop could make a profit by selling keyboards, monitors, and power supplies within their store as an opportunity to upsell the product.

Even though the Apple-1 was intended for wide adoption, its typical user was not the average person. Hackers were first in line to purchase the Apple-1 and they assembled them according to their personal preference of monitors (or TVs with an RF modulator), keyboards, and all other customizable components. The remaining 25 unsold units were rumored to have been destroyed by Steve Jobs, but in reality, they were never sold or populated because they had defects. They were however, still utilized by Apple employees who harvested them for parts.

What makes this particular Apple-1 special?

• This Apple-1 has recently undergone an extensive authentication, restoration, and evaluation process. It contains all period-appropriate and original parts, and it is in working order! In addition to the motherboard, monitor, and keyboard, this lot is equipped with 2 cassette tapes, 3 wires, and a period xerox-copy of the original owner’s manual.

• The wooden case that houses this computer is made from Koa wood and is in very good condition. In the 1970s Koa wood was abundant and easily accessible, especially on the west coast because it was native to Hawaii, but due to cattle grazing and extensive logging, the Koa tree is now considered much rarer and more expensive. There are only six known examples of the Koa wooden case in existence, and this unit is one of them.

• The Apple-1 Computer on offer has only had two owners. It was originally purchased by an electronics professor who then sold it to his student:

“I purchased this used from the original owner in 1977. He was a teacher at Chaffey College, and I was taking his programming course. He was excited to
buy the Apple-II and sold me this for about $650. Of course, nobody knew it
would become a collector's item...”

Assembly robots come to mind when picturing the manufacturing of industrial and electronic products like automobiles and computers. However, the Apple-1 computers were built by hand and therefore carries celebrated imperfections. There are no serial numbers to accompany each board and so owners thoroughly investigate each one for distinctions unique to their particular machine. Computer motherboards get their signature green color from a solder mask that is applied with a squeegee to protect it from dust, shorts, moisture and to control the flow of molten solder. The Apple-1 on offer has a slight dimple on the board indicating that something very small was on the actual squeegee when it was coated. Marks like that serve as a kind of electronic signature for the machine, forever distinguishing it from other known examples. - Angela Bryant, John Moran Auctioneers

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