Some people might think that the new iMac with 3.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and a 27-inch 5K resolution display is expensive at $2,500. Its ancestors is way more expensive that that.
An extremely rare, fully working Apple-1, the very same computer that kick-started the computer age, sold for nearly a million dollars at the Bonhams History of Science auction held in New York on Wednesday. The computer far exceeded the estimated selling price of $300,000 to $500,000 that Bonhams expected it to fetch.
The Apple-1, one of the first 50 computers that Steve Wozniak himself built inside Steve Jobs' garage in 1976, was sold for $905,000, including premiums and auction fees to The Henry Ford's Archive of American Innovation, which will put the computer in its own display inside The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The museum is dedicated in preserving the history of innovation in America, with focus on industry and technology.
The entire package comes with an intact motherboard, a hand-built keyboard, a vintage Sanyo monitor, a custom power supply in a wooden box and two vintage tape decks. The lot also includes various memorabilia from the Cincinnati AppleSiders, a group of Apple computer owners founded in the 1970s by John Barkley Anderson, previous owner of the Apple-1 sold at the auction.
A video posted by Bonhams on its website shows Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, board member at the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists Museum at New Jersey's InfoAge Science Center, demonstrates how the Apple-1 is in "superb overall condition." Cohen goes on to boot the computer age relic and load BASIC, which he says ensures that all its components are operational.
"It's very rare to be able to collect the beginning of something, but the Apple-1 is exactly that," Kristin Gallerneaux, curator at Henry Ford, says. "It changed home computing."
"But the Apple-1 isn't just a technological interface - it reveals a complex network of interaction between science, technology and economics," she adds. "It can teach through the lens of social history and innovative engineering. It shows the increasing complexity of all of these things in our everyday lives. When Wozniak and Jobs started to assemble this first batch of Apple-1, they had no idea what the future would bring. And here we are today."
The first Apple-1 computers barely attracted any buyers, but Paul Terrell of The Byte Shop saw the potential and placed orders for 50 Apple-1s that were later sold for the devilish price of $666.66. Wozniak and Jobs later on made another 150 computers that were sold to friends and other vendors. The rest is history.