More than 34 years ago, in July of 1976, a small California company called Apple released its first computer. The Apple-I, which was designed and built by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, featured 4KB of memory, and a fully-functioning circuit board. According to one source, Wozniak originally wanted to charge $777.77 for the machine, but his partner, Steve Jobs, convinced him to drop the price tag to $666.66. Wozniak complied.
The rest – from the early Macintosh desktops to the top-of-the-line MacBook Airs, which pack as much punch in their pinkies as the Apple-I did in its entire body – is history. And now you can get a piece of that history. Later this month, the auction house Christie's will put a vintage Apple-I on the block, complete with a "few slightly later additions." Among the "additions," according to Christie's:
A 6502 microprocessor, labeled R6502P R6502-11 8145, printed circuit board with 4 rows A-D and columns 1-18, three capacitors, heatsink, cassette board connector, 8K bytes of RAM, keyboard interface, firmware in PROMS, low-profile sockets on all integrated circuits, video terminal, breadboard area with slightly later connector, with later soldering, wires and electrical tape to reverse, printed to obverse Apple Computer 1 Palo Alto. Ca. Copyright 1976.
Christie's has posted an estimate of $160,300 to $240,450 – which means you purchase half a warehouse full of MacBook computers for the same price as an Apple-I. So will the machine actually go for the estimated price? Hard to say. Previous Apple machines have fetched far less hefty sums – but then again, Apple mania has surged in the past year or so, and the Apple-I would be a great prize for the right collector.
After all, there were only 200 Apple-I units produced, according to eWeek – not exactly a gigantic run.