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Apple history: First photos of vast collection stretching back to Jobs' and Wozniak's earliest computers

With an enormous assortment of around 10,000 Apple and Apple-related items, the All About Apple Museum in Italy is about to open its doors to the public.

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Topic: Apple
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Dedicated to Apple history

It took 13 years of wandering from one unlikely venue to another but now what is considered one of the world's biggest museums entirely dedicated to the history of Apple appears to have finally found a stable home.

On November 28 in Savona, Italy, the All About Apple Museum will open its doors to the public. Visitors will have the chance to examine products from all the eras of the Cupertino company's history.

ZDNet was offered a sneak preview of the place. Here's what it looks like and what you could get from visiting it.

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Back to the very origins of Apple

Here you see a lineup of several Apple computers on display inside the All About Apple Museum, which is located in the port area of Savona, Italy. The products are part of a collection of almost 10,000 items, which includes more than 1,000 computers, over 200 monitors and at least 150 printers.

Some items date back to the very origins of Apple and the collection includes more than a few rare pieces that enthusiasts have donated over the years to the not-for-profit association that runs the museum.

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Functioning Apple exhibits

Here is an Apple IIe, one of the vintage computers on display on the shelves of the All About Apple Museum in Savona, Italy.

One of the features that makes this museum unique, according to the volunteers who run it, is that all the products on display will be actually functioning, and visitors will have the chance to try them.

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Former stock of an Apple store

This is a Macintosh Plus bearing an AppleCAT diagnostic tool logo on display at the Savona museum. As the third model in the Macintosh line, the Plus first appeared in early 1986.

The core of the museum's collection is the stock of unsold items from a store selling Apple products in Savona. In 2002 the unsold items were donated to Alessio Ferraro, a developer who was then providing assistance to the store's clients.

Ferraro, who is now the president of the not-for-profit association behind the museum, welcomed the gift and immediately set about finding a venue to show the products.

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Computers, keyboards and gadgets

The museum also features magazines, such as this launch issue of MacWorld. 'Apple's remarkable new personal computers', reads the main coverline.

Initially, the computers and all the accessories were stored in the loft of Alessio Ferraro's parents' house in the village of Quilliano, not far from Savona. Although that was a private location, public visits were organized from time to time.

The museum's first semi-official and unlikely venue was Quilliano's primary school. In 2005, the collection's computers, keyboards and gadgets were moved in, thanks to the goodwill of the local mayor, and remained hosted there until 2010.

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Apple QuickTake 200

The All About Apple Museum's hardware collection doesn't include only computers. Here, for instance, is a QuickTake 200, the digital photo camera Apple launched in 1994.

The road leading to the museum's current venue was sometimes rough. In 2010 the collection left the primary school of Quilliano bound for the University of Savona's campus, with a local bank providing the funds for the construction work and relocation.

Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic problems, the deal never went through, leaving the collection homeless for the past five years.

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Power Macintosh G3

A Power Macintosh G3 from the late 1990s is among the Apple computers that visitors can admire at the All About Apple Museum.

Not every item in the collection will be on display. The biggest proportion of it will be stored for use as spare parts for the devices on show which, the curators proudly declare, will all be functioning.

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Apple I kit

This Apple I clone on display at the museum was put together by a kit-builder. But on the collection's opening day later this month, visitors will have the chance to admire an actual Apple I.

The museum owes its public opening in some measure to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

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1985 Apple Macintosh XL

This Macintosh XL, developed from the failed Apple Lisa, was available for only a few months in 1985.

During the five years the collection was homeless, the association that runs the museum received several offers from larger cities proposing a venue.

The volunteers ultimately declined these proposals because they wanted their creation to remain where it was born, in Savona.

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The Apple II

Here's a closeup of a floppy disk jutting out of an Apple II computer, which was available between 1977 and 1981.

Right now the All About Apple Museum has no official relationship with Apple. That was not the case in the past. In 2005 the company sent a letter to the association running the museum and eventually invited a few of its representatives to Cupertino.

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Apple II joystick

This is an Apple II joystick on view in one of the museum's displays.

"If I had to guess, you probably are the most supplied Apple museum in the world. Of course, I am not aware of any other Apple-only museum either", reads a 2005 letter sent by an Apple representative to the All About Apple Museum.

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Power Mac G3 innards

As well as experiencing working Apple machines, visitors to the museum will be able to examine their components, such as the inside of this Power Mac G3.

Since the museum's contact with Apple back in 2005, the company hasn't officially shown any interest in the collection.

Volunteers who run the museum seem a little disheartened by Apple's lack of interest but that doesn't diminish their passion for Apple's products and their dedication to documenting its history.

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1980s Apple IIc

A view of an Apple IIc, available between 1984 and 1988 and the fourth model in the Apple II series.

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Steve Jobs' NeXT Cube

Although the All About Apple Museum in Savona, Italy is dedicated to the history of Apple, it also shows also some non-Apple products, such as this NeXT Cube.

NeXT was founded by Steve Jobs in 1985 while in exile from the Cupertino company.

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Katz Media KMP 2000 multimedia device

Not every product on display at the All About Apple Museum is strictly Apple's.

This KMP 2000 multimedia device, for example, was produced by Katz Media. However, it is based on the Apple Pippin platform.

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AppleCAT diagnostic tools case

The museum's ambition is to cover, through the items on display, every facet of Apple's history. This AppleCAT diagnostic tools case is consistent with that goal.

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Visiting Commodore exhibit

One area of the All About Apple Museum is dedicated to temporary exhibits. Right now, the space is occupied by an array of vintage gaming consoles, including these Commodore computers.

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Apple PowerCD

It came long before the iPod and did not enjoy quite the same success. Nonetheless nobody can deny that this Apple PowerCD has its place in the history of the company.

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Apple Graphics Tablet

Drawing with an iPad is admittedly easier but at the museum you can test your skills with this vintage Apple Graphics Tablet.

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2001 iMac Flower Power

For some people, the iMac Flower Power from 2001 is among the strangest Macs ever produced.

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Melapoli videogame

Tired of the old Monopoly board game? Why not try the Melapoli videogame? Warning: you might need an Apple II Plus, an Apple IIe or an Apple IIc to make it work.

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Apple's eMate 300 education laptop

Here is an eMate 300 low-cost laptop, designed for schools and colleges and available for less than a year between 1997 and 1998.

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PCs on parade

A view inside the All About Apple Museum in Savona, Italy.

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1977 computer fair sign

This Apple Computer Inc sign hanging on a wall of the museum is described by its curators as the original sign used by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak at the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire when they launched the Apple II.

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Apples line up

A machine running AppleCAT diagnostic tools, an Apple IIc and a Macintosh 128K line up on display.

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Rare see-through Macintosh Portable

A transparent Macintosh Portable from around 1990 is one of the many rare items that can be seen at the museum.

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The Apple Modem 1200

A Modem 1200, the first modem, along with the Modem 300, released under Apple's own name by the Cupertino company in 1984.

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The ultimate geeky detour

The entrance of the All About Apple Museum in Savona. If you happen to be in Italy and you are looking for a geeky detour, this could be just the place.

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