Working Apple I Computer Up for Auction



If you’ve got $116,000 to spare, you might have a shot of getting an Apple computer with 4k of memory to play with.

A rare working Apple I computer from 1976 is up for auction this weekend in Cologne. The auction house is inviting starting bids of 90,000 euros, though it has an  estimated sale price of 200,000 to 300,000 euros (US$260,000 to $390,000).

The computer is rare as only around 200 were made by Steve Wozniak in the garage of Steve Jobs’s family home. Of those only 46 are known for certain to still exist and only half a dozen are confirmed to be in working order.

The Apple 1 was supplied as a motherboard with the buyer having to supply the peripherals. This lot includes what the auctioneers call “authentic” peripherals including a keyboard, monitor and cassette recorder that appear to have been bought at the time. The lot also includes an original cassette interface card and reproductions of the original cassettes for loading software, including Basic.

The auction winner will also get a copy of a signed letter from Steve Wozniak in 1978 offering the original buyer $400 if he traded in his Apple I for an Apple II.

That original buyer may attract interest among US bidders as it’s Fred “Scrap Iron” Hatfield, who played for five teams during a 1950s Major League Baseball career. He died in 1998 and the ownership of the computer after that is uncertain: it’s being offered for sale by an anonymous US citizen.

Two working Apple I machines have been auctioned before, both last year, fetching $374,500 and $640,000 respectively. Auctioneers believe the latter price was unusually high and that the former is more likely to become a standard amount — or at least as standard as such a rare lot can be. Non-working Apple I machines have previously disappointed at auction.

Geeks on a tighter budget might still find something to bid on as the lot is part of an auction of office antiques, science and technology. Other lots include several adding machines including a Russian arithmometer, an Enigma machine, a six-digit calculator made by Pascal, and an Apple Lisa-1, the first machine to ship with a mouse and use a graphical user interface. There’s also an Apple II and an Apple III if you fancy collecting a set.

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