Bay Area woman accidentally junks $200,000 Apple-1 computer

A previous Apple-1 which went up for auction.
A previous Apple-1 which went up for auction.
Photo: Auction Team Breker

Have you ever thrown away something you regretted later on? If so, you have something in common with the San Francisco Bay Area woman who recently junked a vintage Apple-1 computer — one of just 200 surviving machines created by Steve Jobs and the Woz way back in 1976.

Fortunately the ultra-rare desktop was recognized by a member of the recycling firm she left it at. They sold it to a private collector for $200,000, and now want to track down the unwitting donor to give her the 50 percent they say the company owes.

Read the first ever article written about Apple

Woz and Jobs in their early days at Apple.
Woz and Jobs in their early days at Apple.
Photo:

Apple’s not exactly hurting for press coverage these days. There was a time, though, when the company was desperate for any bit of publicity it could drum up. That time was February 1977, when The Apple Computer Company spoke to Kilobaud magazine for a multi-page feature article.

I don’t know whether my favorite bit of the resulting article is the crowing about 10 Apple computers selling in three weeks (the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sold 10 million in their opening weekend) or Steve Jobs not yet mastering the art of selling by admitting the machine “is not for everybody,” but it makes for fun reading nonetheless.

Buy it now? Rare original Apple-1 shows up on eBay

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Yep, this could belong to you. Photo: eBay/auctioncause2

If you think an Apple Watch Edition is rare, you should try getting your hands on an Apple-1 computer.

Only 63 are known to exist, but you can nab one now — provided you cough up the necessary cash. A working Apple-1, owned by its original purchaser and his family for more than 36 years, has appeared on eBay and is currently carrying a bid of $20,600.

Working Apple-1 goes (kind of) cheap at auction

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apple-1-dec-2014-auction
Going, going, gone! Photo: Christie's

A working Apple-1 computer has sold at a Christie’s auction for $365,000: more than 600x the $600 that was paid for it back in July 1976, when it was bought from Steve Jobs.

While the figure is certainly sizeable, however, it’s also a bit of a disappointment when you consider that just two months ago, a similar machine fetched an eye-watering $905,000, when it was acquired by the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, to be part of its ongoing collection. “It’s very rare to be able to collect the beginning of something, but the Apple-1 is exactly that,” Henry Ford curator Kristen Gallerneaux told Cult of Mac shortly after that auction had concluded.

Yesterday’s Christie’s auction in New York had expected the Apple-1 to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000, although there had been some speculation it could break the $1 million mark.

The Apple-1 came complete with a mounted cancelled check for his purchase, made out to Apple Computer by original owner Charles Ricketts.

Want to be the next Woz? How to build a working Apple 1 replica

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Build yourself an Apple 1! Photo: Cult of Mac
Build yourself an Apple 1! Photo: Cult of Mac

With working specimens of the original 1976 model routinely selling at auction for as much as $905,000, chances are, even the most die-hard Apple fans will never be able to own a vintage Apple 1 for themselves.

But don’t despair: If you have the know-how, you can build one yourself for a fraction of the cost.