Rare Mac laptop rakes in more than $16,000 at auction

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Hap Plain
This early backlit Mac laptop sold on eBay for more than $16,000.
Photo: Hap Plain

An Apple prototype of an early laptop, one of only four known to exist, sold on eBay Tuesday evening for more than $16,000.

It was the second time the owner of the Apple Macintosh Portable M5126 – fully functional and with a rare-for-its-time backlit screen – tried selling the test device on the auction site. Last month, bidding closed at just over $10,000 but the buyer backed out.

Bidding for rare Mac prototype starts at 99 cents

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Hap Plain
This early backlit Mac laptop sold on eBay for more than $16,000.
Photo: Hap Plain

A rare Macintosh prototype that was once rescued from the trash recently sold for more than $10,000 on eBay.

But the winning bidder backed out and now, the clear-plastic Macintosh Portable M5126 laptop is back on the auction site. Bidding started at 99 cents with no reserve.

See extremely rare iPhone prototypes in action

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iPhone prototypes
These prototypes show some of the early steps Apple took in developing the revolutionary iPhone.
Photo: Hap Plain

iPhone turns 10 Apple collector Hap Plain can observe the iPhone’s 10th anniversary today by powering up two extremely rare iPhone prototypes — and you can see them in action, too.

The prototypes, which likely passed through the hands of Apple execs including Steve Jobs, Tony Fadell and Scott Forstall, offer a unique glimpse at iPhone development. You can see Plain fire them up in the video below, the latest entry in Cult of Mac’s collaboration with Wired UK to recap a decade of the iPhone.

Apple prototype collector in search of rarely seen devices

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A "clear shot" prototype of an Apple Powerbook 140.
Photo: Jonathan Zufi

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugSerious Apple prototype collectors usually know exactly what they are looking for as they try to build a physical timeline of each distinct device ever made. A Holy Grail artifact would be an Apple I. Fewer than 50 are said to exist.

Hap Plain wants the pieces none of us, including him, have ever seen.

He is one of a very select subculture who search the world over for Apple prototypes. Before being polished into the personal computing icons of our lives, Apple computers, iPods, iPhones and other devices start out as crude, unfinished test models so glitches and user experience hangups can be identified and worked out before hitting the market.