An authenticated Apple-1 computer prototype from the mid-1970s has sold at auction for nearly $700,000.
The prototype was used by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 1976 to demonstrate the Apple-1 to Paul Terrell, owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, one of the first personal computer stores in the world, Boston-based RR Auction said in a statement.
The auctioneer said that a Bay Area collector who wishes to remain anonymous made the winning $677,196 bid on Thursday.
“There is no Apple-1 without this board; it’s the holy grail of Steve Jobs and Apple memorabilia,” said Bobby Livingston, RR’s executive vice president.
The board has been matched to Polaroid photographs taken by Terrell in 1976, showing the prototype in use. It was also examined and authenticated by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, who notarized a 13-page report that accompanied the sale.
The prototype resided on the Apple Garage property for many years before being given by Jobs to the seller about 30 years ago.
The Apple-1 was released in 1976 and was Apple’s first-ever product. It came with a MOS 6502 CPU running at 1 MHz, a whopping 4KB of RAM, and an optional cassette interface card that allowed users to store programs on audio cassette tapes. It originally was priced at $666.66 (equivalent to about $3,460 today) as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak reportedly liked repeating digits. Only about 200 units of the Apple-1 were ever produced, out of which 62 are still confirmed to exist.
The prototype has an ‘Apple Computer A’ engraving in place of the usual ‘Apple Computer 1’ label and is said to have been hand-soldered by Wozniak. RR Auction said the Woz’s “unusual ‘three-handed’ technique – wire in one hand, soldering iron in the other, and solder held in his mouth – is evident in the tight ‘bubbles’ formed at the soldered connections.” If the prototype was in better condition, it could have set a new record amount paid for an Apple-1 computer, which currently sits at $905,000.
At the same auction, a first-generation iPhone sealed in the original box sold for $35,414, while a 1971 high school yearbook signed by Jobs went for $28,410.
In June, an original Apple-1 that had been refurbished to complete the working order sold for $340,100. The item is considered unique as it’s believed to be the only model with Wozniak’s signature on the Motorola 6502 processor.