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Lot 0050
[Steven Jobs (1955-2011) & Stephen Wozniak (b.1950)].

An Apple-1 personal computer, Palo Alto, 1976.

Housed in a briefcase (44.5 x 37 x 10cm.), the motherboard labelled 'Apple Computer 1 Palo Alto Ca. Copyright 1976' on obverse with four rows A-D, and columns 1-18, white ceramic MOS Technologies 6502 microprocessor, 8K bytes RAM in 16-pin 4K memory chips; modified cassette interface card; Datanetics keyboard supported on aluminium; green Preliminary BASIC Users manual.


Serial Number 01-0053 (probably for the Byte Shop)

1977 Acquired by Rick Conte

December 2009 Donated to a non-profit organization

July 2010 purchased for a private collection

Whence acquired by the present owners in September 2014


Listed as #10 on the Apple-1 registry: https://www.apple1registry.com/en/10.html

[Sold together with:] associated original instruction manuals, contemporary supporting hardware, and additional ephemera, acquired later by current owner – please see the Lot Essay for full listing.

The first Apple computer – herald of the home computing revolution and of the internet age. The Apple-1 computer is the first personal computer sold with a fully assembled motherboard. What began as the attempt by two techie friends to design and build a microprocessor became the first personal computer and launched Apple Computer, the perennially pioneering company that defined and redefined its industry – and changed the lives of its millions of customers – to become the world’s largest corporation. After introducing their new creation to a small group of like-minded friends at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were able to secure an order for 50 computers from Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop, a small local retail outlet. The Apple-1 systems were sold without casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor, but offered a pre-assembled motherboard, something that put Apple far ahead of its competitors.

After securing that initial order, Jobs and Wozniak scrambled to find cash for the necessary parts, selling personal property (a VW van and HP-65 calculator, respectively) to finance the operation. Working furiously from the Jobs household, spread out through the garage, living room and even a bedroom, the young men and their friends and families built the motherboards by hand to fulfil the Byte Shop order, and made an additional small quantity to be sold directly to friends and members of the Homebrew Computer Club. Approximately 200 Apple-1s were built, but only 80 of those still exist, as recorded in Achim Baqué & Mike Willegal’s online Apple-1 Registry.

Emboldened by the success of the Apple-1, Jobs and Wozniak soon developed the far more advanced Apple-II, first sold on 10 June 1977 and which remained in production, with improvements, until 1993. Jobs and Wozniak officially discontinued the Apple-1 in October 1977, offering discounts and trade-ins to encourage all Apple-1 owners to return their machines. These were destroyed, and few Apple-1s survived, fewer yet in working order or in private hands. Fifteen examples are extant in public collections, including in the Smithsonian Museum of Art and twelve other museums of technology or science worldwide. Recent examples at auction include: in First Bytes, a Christie’s online sale ($387,750; 24 June - 9 July 2013); by Breker, Cologne, ($671,400; 25 May 2013); and by Bonham’s, New York ($905,000, to The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; 22 October 2014).

This example comes with the extremely rare first manual issued by the apple computer company. Although not credited in the text, Ronald Wayne is well known to be its author (and he does receive printed credit for drawing the enclosed schematics). The elder-statesmen of the Jobs-Wozniak-Wayne trio, Wayne drew the first Apple logo that appears on the cover of this pamphlet, drafted their partnership agreement, and wrote the present manual. His original logo symbolically connected the nascent Apple Computer Company with an important scientific precedent: Sir Isaac Newton sits beneath an apple tree writing on several loose sheets, the glowing apple of inspiration above him, as if about to fall and sprout forth innovation. Wayne also incorporated into his design Wordsworth's homage to Newton from The Prelude: 'A Mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone'. The backward-looking style of the logo, blending the Enlightenment's ideal of science and the Romantic's ideal of expression, could not conceal the overwhelmingly modern import of the simple text it announced.

Originally priced at $666.66, the Apple-1 was advertised by Steve Jobs as '[a] truly complete microcomputer system on a single PC board... an extremely powerful computer system that can be used for anything from developing programs to playing games or running BASIC. […] Since the Apple comes fully assembled, tested & burned-in and has a complete power supply on-board, initial set-up is essentially "hassle-free" and you can be running within minutes'.

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The first Apple computer

Estimate £300,000 - £500,000May 23, 2019
Lot Closed
You can no longer bid on this lot.
New York, NY, USA
Auction Curated By:
Sophie Hopkins
Associate Director, Specialist, Manuscripts & Archives