In 1976, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs demonstrated a prototype Apple-1 computer to the owner of The Byte Shop. That lead to a deal that launched Apple on its path to success.
That prototype is now up for auction. It’s expected to sell for $500,000.
Perhaps the most important Apple-1 ever made is up for auction
When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first decided to make a computer together, their first invention was the Apple-1. They approached Paul Terrell, the owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View California, about selling their computer kits. He agreed to buy 50 of them. That deal is the real beginning of the Apple we know today.
RR Auction is now selling the Apple-1 prototype used for this demonstration. And the auction house has convincing proof of that.
“The board has been matched to Polaroid photographs taken by Paul Terrell in 1976 showing the prototype in use,” says RR Auction. “This Apple-1 prototype, listed as #2 on the Apple-1 Registry and considered ‘lost’ until recently, was examined and authenticated in 2022 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen. It is accompanied by Cohen’s notarized thirteen-page report.”
Text on the left side of the board reads “Apple Computer A” while production model units are labeled “Apple Computer 1.”
Historic doesn’t mean functioning
The few remaining units of Apple’s first computer occasionally go up for sale. Many of these still work, especially if they have been refurbished. The one up for auction now is exactly as it was when Steve Jobs last owned it.
“The board’s present condition lends some insight into Jobs’s judgment of it: he saw the prototype not as something to be enshrined, but as something to be repurposed,” says RR Auction. “Several of the ICs have been plucked from their sockets, as have the microprocessor and other components, presumably for use on early production Apple-1 Computers.”
The board itself is broken, and the missing piece has been lost.
“This prototype resided on the ‘Apple Garage’ property for many years before being given by Steve Jobs to its current owner approximately 30 years ago,” according to RR Auction.
Place your bids
The auction started July 20 and runs until August 18, 2022. So far, no bids have been placed – the minimum bid is $50,000. The device is expected to sell for half a million dollars.
The meeting between Jobs and Terrell made Apple into a company, not just a couple of hobbyists. The owner of The Byte Shop ordered 50 units if Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak would assemble them. Wozniak later said, “That was the biggest single episode in all of the company’s history. Nothing in subsequent years was so great and so unexpected.” And you can own a piece of it.