​Not booted up for years but this rare Apple 1 carries a hefty price tag

With an original manual, 8K RAM and a cassette interface card, a scarce Apple 1 from 1977 is set to fetch a fortune at auction later this month.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
The Apple 1's manual was penned by Ronald Wayne, who sold his share of Apple for $800.
Image: Christie's

A rare Apple 1 computer, one of probably only 60 in the world, is expected to go for as much as £500,000 ($773,000) at a Christie's auction in London later this month.

Besides its condition, what makes this Apple 1 particularly rare, according to the auction house, is that it comes with the manual penned by Ronald Wayne, the Apple co-founder who sold his share in the now $629bn firm for $800.

The Apple 1's £240,000 ($371,000) starting price makes it by far the most expensive item in Christie's Seven Centuries of Science online auction, ahead of a £60,000 ($93,000) Enigma machine and a £50,000 ($77,000) 14th century English Horary Quadrant.

According to Christie's, the Apple item was last working in 2005 but hasn't been turned on since.

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak turned out about 200 Apple 1s in their garage during four months in 1977, though only a handful exist today.

Mike Willegal's Apple-1 Registry, as of June, includes 66 Apple 1s. Even some of them may be fakes with reproductions becoming harder and harder to tell from originals, according to Willegal. Given the prices that past originals have reached, there is potential for fraud.

The Apple 1 up for sale at Christie's includes the motherboard, white ceramic MOS Technologies 6502 microprocessor, 8K RAM in 16-pin 4K memory chips, and original 3 Big-Blue power-supply capacitors. It's also fitted with the original Apple cassette interface card lettered with a 'G' within a triangle, according to Christie's.

Another Apple 1 turned up in June after a woman dumped it an e-waste facility in Silicon Valley, apparently unaware of the computer's value. The recycler sold the Apple 1 for $200,000 and sought the media's help in locating her to give her a 50 percent cut.

The most an Apple 1 has ever sold for was $905,000 at an auction at Bonhams last year, beating the $300,000 to $500,000 expected. That example was one of 50 that were hand-built by Wozniak for the ByteShop in 1976.

As for the manual, Christie's notes that Wayne's logo symbolically connected the company to another scientific precedent, depicting a glowing apple, as if about to fall on to the head of Sir Isaac Newton.

Bids for the Apple 1 close on October 29.

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