An ultra-rare Apple-1 prototype used by Steve Jobs as a demo unit is going on display at a Seattle computer museum. It’s the crown jewel of an impressive collection of vintage Apple gear that will be housed in a new wing opening Friday at Living Computers: Museum + Labs.
Lāth Carlson, the museum’s executive director, calls the Apple prototype “the most important computer in history” — and also “the most boring to look at.”
Like some other important bits of Apple history, the prototype Apple-1 almost got thrown away after Jobs left the company in 1985 without cleaning out his office. A group of Apple engineers got sent in to do so, and a man named Don Hutmacher wound up taking the Apple-1 demo unit for himself.
After Hutmacher died last year, his family discovered the old computer in his garage. They then decided to hand it over to Living Computers to exhibit.
The Apple-1 prototype is certainly the most drool-worthy part of Living Computers: Museum + Labs‘ new Apple exhibit, which focuses on the company’s revolutionary computers produced between 1976 and 1999. But museum-goers can also ogle — and even try out — other interesting machines. The museum houses many vintage computers, from mainframes to personal computers, in a unique hands-on environment.
In addition to Jobs’ Apple-1, the museum also houses a working Apple-1 that GeekWire calls “the only operable version of the company’s first-ever product that will also be available for use by the public.”
The exhibition also includes an Apple II, IIe, IIc, Apple III, Lisa and Macintosh 128K. The most recent Apple machine on display is the Bondi Blue iMac G3, which helped turn the ailing company around when Jobs rejoined the company in the late 1990s.
Living Computers: Museum + Labs was started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. So perhaps it’s not too surprising that the museum’s new Apple exhibition will also focus on Apple’s storied history with Microsoft.