Wonderful Engineering

Apple I – The First Ever Apple Computer Sold For $815,000

In 1976, Apple founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs built the first ever batch of computers named – Apple I. Since there were only 200 of these units, it became the holy grail of electronics memorabilia. One such prototype of Apple I was sold for $815,000 (£618,000) in an auction last week.

Prototype Apple 1s were manually soldered and used for debug testing. Credits: Charitybuzz

This “celebration edition” prototype was anticipated to be auctioned for $1m but the last bid was $815,000. This means that it is the second highest-grossing Apple I after the functioning version auctioned at final bid of $905,000 at Bonhams auction in October 2014.  The auctioneers, Charitybuzz said that “about 80 bidders” had been following the item and reported that 10% of the proceeds will go to the charity organization “Leukemia and Lymphoma Society” in New York.

Glenn and Shannon Dellimore will be taking the vintage Apple computer home as they placed the winning bid of $815,000. The couple said that they wish to introduce the computer to different schools and universities to help inspire young minds.

Glenn said: “It is incredible to think that this was most likely the very first Apple 1, the unicorn or holy grail of computers, the original very first prototype.”

The machine ran on the Apple 1 BASIC operating system. Credits: Charitybuzz

Manual Soldering

About 70 or less Apple-I computers are expected to still be out there. The computer began selling first in July 1976 and was discontinued after 15 months when production of Apple II began.

This “celebration edition”, is unlike other Apple I’s because it was soldered manually on a blank instead of a green PC board. Steve Wozniak says:

“Only a few Apple 1s, on blank (not green) PC boards, may have been manually soldered, although I’m not sure of it. We arranged the wave soldering with the company that made the PC boards. But we may not have wanted to wave solder a run (of maybe 10 or more board) until we manually soldered one or two to debug them.”

Corey Cohen, Apple’s historian analyzed the celebration edition machine and said that it is “one of the first, if not the first, Apple computers because this appears to be one of the sample boards”. A timestamp on the blank PC board indicates that the computer was made in 1976.

Some 200 units were produced in 1976, of which about 175 were sold. Credits: Charitybuzz

Apple’s Glorified History:

Apple I was the company’s first major project. The computer was unveiled at a hobbyist group in Silicon Valley: the Homebrew Computer Club. Jobs sold his VolksWagon Microbus and Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard calculator to finance Apple I’s production. 

Manuals bundled with the Apple 1 show the corporation’s original logo, designed by co-founder Ronald Wayne. Credits: Charitybuzz

Apple I began selling in July 1976 for $666.66. Of the 200 units made, 175 were sold and the remainder were destroyed.
What do you think of this vintage Apple I? Do you think this computer that Wozniak and Jobs built in the latter’s parent’s garage can inspire young people? Let us know!