A prototype Apple Macintosh used in the development of MacWrite can be yours, if you can scratch up about $180,000. It’s almost unique because of a disk drive different from the one used when this revolutionary computer shipped.
UPDATE: Cult of Mac has learned that the Apple 1 did sell after the auction closed. Read more here.
Markets rise and markets fall – that’s true for stocks, real estate, tulips, etc. That’s also true with vintage computers – though even in a down market there’s still some money to be made.
At an auction in Germany held on Saturday November 16, a working Apple 1 – from the first batch of 50 units made – did not receive any bids. Nor did a restored Lisa 1, with dual Twiggy floppy disk drives. But a prototype Twiggy Mac, one of only two known working units, sold for €25,000 ($33,725), quite possibly the highest price ever paid for a vintage Macintosh.
Auctions for rare Apple equipment have attracted a lot of attention the past few years, with prices for the Apple 1 going as high as an astounding $671,000! Another Apple 1 is going up for auction in Germany next month on November 16, but in addition a very different rare Apple item will be on the same auction block. One of only two known working Twiggy Macs in the world is going up for sale.
Twiggy Macs were prototype versions of the original Macintosh and used a proprietary 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, instead of the 3.5-inch disk which ultimately shipped with the system in 1984. All Twiggy prototypes were ordered destroyed by Steve Jobs – and long thought lost – but the last couple of years have seen an eventful rediscovery of this piece of Macintosh history. Now one can be yours – if the price is right.
It was an impromptu family reunion whose RSVP list grew rapidly. In celebration of the recent rebirth of two prototype Twiggy Macs, many legends of Cupertino relived memories and reconnected with old friends in a private party held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.
Attendees, many of whom held Apple badge numbers in the single or double digits, included (among others) Steve Wozniak, Andy Hertzfeld, Daniel Kottke, Chris Espinosa, Guy Kawasaki, Jerry Manock, Terry Oyama, Larry and Patti Kenyon, Rod Holt, Randy Wigginton and Wendell Sander. The soiree was arranged by longtime Apple employee Dan Kottke and Gabreal Franklin, former president of Encore systems and owner of one of the resurrected Twiggy Macs.
Apple’s venerable alumni laughed and reminisced with each other while playing with the rare prototype, commenting on early aspects of the design and who did what. “It’s got an hourglass cursor,” Andy Hertzfeld said. “I don’t remember that. Hey, I wrote that. It seems slow to me.”
Nearly three decades after Apple Computer introduced the Macintosh, a pair of incredibly rare Mac prototypes have been discovered and restored to working order.
The computers, known as Twiggy Macs because they used the same 5.25-inch Twiggy floppy disk drive found in Apple’s doomed Lisa, were tracked down and painstakingly brought back to life by Adam Goolevitch, a vintage Mac collector, and Gabreal Franklin, a former Apple software engineer.
“Throughout the past 15 years, I have heard stories of and researched the fabled ‘Twiggy Macintosh’ computer,” Goolevitch told Cult of Mac in an email. “It was a thing of myth and legend — like a unicorn.”
Locating these Macs was the first step, but getting them to work was the real challenge. Goolevitch and Franklin embarked on an all-out effort to resurrect these long-lost pieces of Macintosh history.
Now two Twiggy Macs have been returned to life in full working glory. They are — without a doubt — the oldest Macs in the world. With auction prices for Apple-1 computers nudging upward toward the half-million-dollar mark, these incredibly rare prototypes — which look a lot like something you might find at a garage sale — could prove priceless. Here is the story of their amazing resurrection.
Steve Jobs always had a deep fascination with automated factories. He was first exposed to them during a trip to Japan in 1983. At the time, Apple had just created a new floppy disk drive called Twiggy. During a visit to Apple’s factory in San Jose, however, Jobs became irate when he discovered the high failure rate of Twiggy drives Apple was producing. More than half of them were rejected. Jobs threatened to fire everyone who worked at the factory
If you feel foolish for having spent $10,000 for an Apple Lisa-1 computer in 1983, you hopefully kept it.
A working model recently sold for more than $50,000 at auction.
One of Apple’s biggest commercial failures is now one of the most coveted pieces of vintage tech. The steep price, clunky performance, and unreliable Twiggy floppy disks led to poor sales. Apple made improvements and dropped the price on the Lisa-2, but the launch of the Apple MacIntosh pretty much ended Lisa’s life.
Ten minutes before Apple went live with its big fall product reveal Wednesday, fans on Twitter seemed listless. So much news had already been leaked, especially the specs on the iPhone 7, they were tepid like kids who already knew what was under the Christmas tree.
But when an old mustachioed friend named Mario ran on stage and then was followed by Pokémon, the kids nearly lost their minds.
It’s the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Macintosh, and we wondered at Cult of Mac what can we do to celebrate? Then we thought, let’s dissect an original Macintosh and see what made it tick! There’s nothing like destruction in the persuit of knowledge.
In full retro spirit, we asked our friends at iFixit if they would help perform a special anniversary teardown of the 128k Mac. How does our silicon hero compare to modern Macs in terms of components, assembly and ease of repair? Of course being true geeks themselves, they jumped at the chance.
There was only one problem: where to find an original 128k Mac.
In addition to all the new products of 2013, the past year was a whir of activity in the vintage Apple space. Apple may be content to only move forward and deny existence of any products older than seven years – what do you mean my first generation MacBook Pro is vintage??? – but the public has not forgotten them.
The biggest retro news of the year was probably the ascendancy of the Apple 1 on the auction block. In May, an Apple 1 fetched a record price of $671,000 at an auction in Germany – until just recently the highest price ever paid for a personal computer. Other Apple 1s sold this year in the $300,000 range, so if you are lucky enough to have one of these oldies-but-goodies in your attic, dig it out now!