Vintage computer that helped launch the Apple empire offered at auction

Vintage Apple-1 computer signed by Apple’s co-founder, Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak, estimated at $200,000+. Image courtesy of RR Auctions

Vintage Apple-1 computer signed by Apple’s co-founder, Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak, estimated at $200,000+. Image courtesy of RR Auctions

BOSTON (AP) – A vintage Apple computer signed by company co-founder Steve Wozniak is being sold at auction. The Apple-1 set in motion the company that in June became the first publicly traded business to close a trading day with a $3 trillion market value, according to RR Auction in Boston. The computer has been restored to a fully operational state and comes with a custom-built case with a built-in keyboard.

“It’s an incredibly rare commodity,” said Tim Bajarin, chairman of Creative Strategies, a technology research firm with deep knowledge of the industry. “You can trace the growth of the PC industry to the Apple-1.”

The computer, which originally sold for about $666, is expected to achieve about $200,000 at an auction that runs through Aug. 24. An Apple-1 prototype sold last year for nearly $700,000.

“Before this, the idea of having a personal computer was totally outrageous,” Bajarin said.

About 200 Apple-1 computers were manufactured in Steve Jobs’ garage in Los Altos, California in 1976 and 1977 and about 175 of them were sold, RR’s Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said.

“It is the legendary computer that launched Apple,” he said.

Steve Wozniak, the Apple Computer co-founder known as ‘Woz,’ photographed signing an Apple-1 computer in 2017. That computer is now at auction with an estimate of $200,000+. Image courtesy of RR Auctions

Steve Wozniak, the Apple Computer co-founder known as ‘Woz,’ photographed signing an Apple-1 computer in 2017. That computer is now at auction with an estimate of $200,000+. Image courtesy of RR Auctions

Jobs approached Paul Terrell, owner of The Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, and he agreed to buy 50 Apple-1 computers, but only if they were fully assembled, according to RR Auction. The Apple-1 thus became one of the first personal computers that did not require soldering by the purchaser, RR said, although it did not come with a power supply, case, keyboard or monitor.

It was followed by the introduction of the Apple-2 in 1977, which revolutionized the personal computing industry.

The Apple-1 up for auction was signed “Woz” by Wozniak at an event at Bryant University in 2017. The signature “adds to the desirability,” Livingston said.

It was acquired used by the owner in 1980 at a computer hobbyist show in Framingham, Massachusetts, and was in service throughout the 1980s. It was brought to an operational state earlier this year by Apple expert Corey Cohen, the auction house said.

The auction also includes Apple company check No. 2, signed by Jobs and Wozniak and dated March 19, 1976.

The check for $116.97 was made out to Ramlor Inc., a circuit board maker, and experts think it was likely linked to the production of the first Apple-1 computers, RR Auction said. The check was expected to sell for $50,000, but early bidding has already surpassed that total.

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