Thursday, 23 October 2014 12:54

Record price set for Apple 1 at auction

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There's a history of Apple 1 computers selling for big money.

Last July, an Apple 1 signed by Steve Wozinak was sold by Christies for US$387,750.

Then in November 2013 another unit failed to reach its reserve price at an Auction Team Breker sale, but went for US$330,000 after the hammer fell.

A June 2012 Sotheby's auction saw a result of US$374,500 for another example of this early personal computer, and US$671,000 was achieved in December 2012, again by Auction Team Breker.

Now the Henry Ford Museum has paid a whopping US$905,000 (including buyer's premium) for an Apple 1 auctioned by Bonhams.

Corey Cohen, a director of the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists Museum at the InfoAge Science Center in New Jersey, examined the Apple 1 before the sale and said it was in "superb overall condition: the motherboard with no apparent modifications performed or removed and the breadboard in very clean state", though he did note "a single date-correct replacement chip".

The high price obtained reflected Mr Cohen's view that it was in significantly better condition than any of the other working examples that have been publicly sold since 2010.

It was sold with a vintage keyboard, Sanyo monitor, custom power supply, plus "two vintage tape-decks; facsimile owner's manual, schematic and BASIC tape; and a small quantity of 1970s-1980s AppleSiders ephemera".

Bonhams senior specialist Cassandra Hatton said "The provenance on the Apple-1 is excellent and the condition is outstanding, so it was not surprising that it did so well.

"We are thrilled to have broken the world record for its sale, and are even more thrilled that it is going to a wonderful new home at the Henry Ford Museum."

64 Apple 1 computers (including the one purchased by the Henry Ford Museum) are known to have survived. But only 16 of them have been successfully operated since 2000.

Image: Bonhams

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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