Get your own Apple computer — for only half a million dollars

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apple1auction Early Apple computers and software are up for auction, but bidding will cost you a pretty penny. (Photo: Christie’s)

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On Monday, Christie’s auction house posted for online auction a collection of early Apple computers and software made to run on them. The auction house titled it “First Bytes – Iconic Technology from the 20th Century,” and it contains many devices that bring back memories for some of us, including me.

These items are from the early days of Apple, when we were all impressed by an Apple IIe, whose 1.023 MHz processor and built-in 64 KB of memory was about as powerful as that of a Furby sold 15 years later. But unlike those annoying toys, the Apple IIe was advanced for its time enough it stayed in production for 10 straight years.

Definitely the jewel in the crown of this collection is an original Apple-1 computer. This baby looks to be in pristine condition with all of its original components, except for the board it’s mounted on. There is really no way to tell how this particular one might have originally mounted or cased, as everyone was expected to fend for themselves in that department. But any wood used for it would be nearly 40 years old now, so it probably isn’t in any great shape.

There is no absolute way to tell what order this particular computer was made as compared to the rest, because back then components didn’t generally have serial numbers. However, the expert at Christie’s deduces it was probably in the first batch of 25, as the motherboards of later models have the logo of the PC board manufacturer etched in them, and this one doesn’t. Also, the processor has a lot number of “1576,” which meant it was made in the 15th week of 1976.

Of special interest with this auction item are the memorabilia that come with it. The operation manual and the circuit diagram are both autographed “Woz” by the creator of the Apple-1, Steve Wozniak. His autograph also graces a photo of himself and co-founder Steve Jobs working on an Apple-1 computer.

Though it originally retailed for $666.66, Christie’s is starting bidding for this lot at $300,000, and expects the final bid to approch $500,000. Because one sold at auction last November for $671,000, this estimate is not at all out of reach. Heck, if I had the means, I might have been tempted to bid on it myself.

Um, does anyone have half a million dollars I can borrow?

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Apple, Commentary, Gadget Guy, Guest Columns, Lifestyle
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