Today in Apple history: Apple’s first ever computer goes on sale

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One of today's surviving Apple 1 computers.
Photo: Christie's

Friday 1 July 1, 1976: The Apple 1 goes on sale, becoming the first computer ever sold by the Apple Computer Company.

Arriving the same month Jimmy Carter was nominated for U.S. president, Family Feud debuted on TV, and the United States celebrated the 200th anniversary of its Declaration of Independence, the Apple 1 is only produced in small numbers, and sells for the unusual price of $666.66.

Designed and hand-built by Steve Wozniak, the original concept for the Apple 1 was for it to be distributed free as a blueprint that other computer enthusiasts could build — a bit like posting instructions and 3-D-printing files on GitHub today. For this reason, it’s the most bare-bones computer Apple ever created: It shipped without a keyboard, transformer or video display.

It was Steve Jobs who convinced Woz that there was money to be made selling the Apple 1. After showing it off at Palo Alto’s Homebrew Computer Club, the pair approached local computer store The Byte Shop.

Unlike today’s mass-produced Apple products, the Apple 1 was produced in a tiny batch of just hundreds. The initial order from The Byte Shop was for just 50 units, giving Apple its first order for a total amount of $25,000. To put that number in perspective, Apple makes that much every 4.5 seconds today.

Ultimately, the Apple 1 was only produced for a period of three months, before Woz decided to shift his attentions to the significantly upgraded Apple II, launched the following year.

In 2016, there are thought to be just 30 to 50 Apple 1 computers still in existence — with the top price ever paid for one being $905,000 for a working unit in October 2014.