An extremely rare, vintage, fully functional Apple-1 computer fetches $365,000 at an auction at Christie's in New York City on Dec. 11. The PC is known to be the only one out of the 60 Apple-1 computers to have documentation that it was sold straight from Steve Jobs.
The price was well below the $400,000 to $600,000 forecast that the auction house had for the machine. The amount is only a fraction of the $905,000 paid by The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan earlier this year at a Bonhams auction for a similar Apple-1 computer.
Bob Luther, owner of the said machine, says he is a little disappointed that it didn't sell higher, but is happy that his Apple-1 has been sold.
"It was time for me to move on, and it's good that it's sold," Luther said. "Owning it has been an incredible experience. And I can't complain. I'm a big Apple fan and I'm not very diversified in my 401(k) because a very high percentage of it is in Apple stock. And [that Apple stock] has been very good to me."
The Ricketts Apple-1, named after its original owner, was first purchased by Charles Ricketts in 1976 straight out of Steve Jobs' garage in Los Altos, California. Included with the computer are the cancelled checks for his purchase from his neighbor's budding business, including one dated July 27, 1976 for $600 with the label "Purchased July 1976 from Steve Jobs' in his parents' garage in Los Altos." Another cancelled check for $193 with the label "Software NA Programed by Steve Jobs in 1976" is dated August 5, 1976.
In Luther's book The First Apple, he details the history of his Apple-1, which was obtained from Ricketts' son by his neighbor Bruce Waldack, a dot-com millionaire who earned a windfall of $100 million from the sale of his company DigitalNation. However, he wasn't able to hold on to his instant fortune and the Apple-1 was sold to Luther at a sheriff's sale in 2004 for the price of $7,600.
The computer came fitted in a blue metal box and a period Datanetics keyboard in a wooden housing. It was tested and serviced by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, who was able to run Microsoft BASIC and an original Apple-1 Star Trek game.
Most of the other Apple-1 machines designed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak were sold to the Byte Shop in Mountain View, one of the earliest personal computer shops, which retailed the computers for $666.66.
Also up for auction was a collection of documents owned by Ronald Wayne, the little known third co-founder of Apple. In 1976, Wayne was offered 10 percent of the new company's shares but later sold them for $800. Included in Wayne's documents is the first manual issued by Apple, which shows the first Apple logo drawn by Wayne on the manual's cover. The logo is symbolic of Apple's connection to scientific breakthrough, specifically the one where the apple fell on Sir Isaac Newton's head that led to his law of gravitation. The documents fetched $25,000 and $20,000 of which was given to Wayne.