A rare Apple-1 computer built by Steve Wozniak in 1976 has sold for $471,000 in a Christie’s auction.
According to the Apple-1 Registry of known Apple-1 computers, this is number 10 of just 68 thought to be still in existence. Only 200 Apple-1 computers were ever made.
Making this Apple-1 slightly unusual is the fact that it comes loaded into a leather briefcase. In doing so, this may well be the first example of a portable Apple computer of sorts — years before the Macintosh Portable and Apple’s highly popular laptops. The reason for the briefcase is because the Apple-1 didn’t come with anything more than a board. As a result, users had to work out how best to house it. Clearly this owner thought that a briefcase, allowing it to be easily transported, was the answer.
It was originally owned by Rick Conte, who donated it to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009. After this, it was sold to a number of private owners. It came packaged with original manuals, magazine articles, and compatible hardware. That includes a SWTPC PR-40 dot matrix printer and more.
The Apple-1 launched one year before the vastly superior Apple II. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak started working on it as a hobby, with no plans to turn it into a business. Originally, he just wanted to show it off to members of his local Homebrew Computer Club.
Steve Jobs was the one who convinced Woz that they should sell the computers. Jobs approached Paul Terrell, owner of the nearby Byte Shop, one of the first personal computer stores. Jobs sold Terrell on buying 50 Apple-1 computers for $500 each. Terrell then marked up the computers to $666.66, the equivalent of around $2,800 today.
Over the past several years, a few Apple-1 computers have gone up for auction. The most ever paid for one was $905,000 in 2014. This was at a time when interest in Apple memorabilia was peaking following the death of Steve Jobs. By comparison, in September 2018 a working Apple-1 sold for just $375,000 at auction.