Apple I Sells At Auction
June 16, 2012

Apple I Sells At Auction

Michael Harper for

Late last month, auction house Sotheby´s announced they would be selling a working Apple I computer and a hand written note and memo from Steve Jobs. Yesterday, these items went on the auction block, earning a record high $374,500 for the computer and $27,500 for the note and memo.

When Sotheby´s first announced the Apple-themed auction, they placed an estimate of $15,000 for the 4 page note. As for the Apple I, Sotheby´s auctioned off one of the last 6 remaining working units, with only an estimated 50 units still in existence.

Each of the Apple I computers were hand-wired by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple with Steve Jobs. In the beginning, there were only 50 produced.

According to the BBC News, there was a bit of a back-and-forth between 2 parties to acquire this item. A collector, who was absent, had earlier sent their bids to the auctioneer. A telephone bidder was also trying to win the item and, in the end, the telephone bidder was able to take the prize.

The note and memos date back to Jobs´ Atari days, where he helped design video games. Dating to 1974, the memo is written to his boss, Steven Bristow, and discusses how to improve the “World Cup” video game.

According to the Sotheby´s description: “The present report written for his supervisor Stephen Bristow, was meant to improve the functionality and fun of World Cup, a coin arcade-game with four simple buttons and an evolution from Atari´s Pong game. Job´s report is stamped “All-One Farm Design,” a name appropriated from the commune he frequented at the time, and the address of the Jobs family in Los Altos. At the bottom of the stamp is the Buddhist mantra, gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl. Manuscript gaming diagrams by Jobs from his early years in the industry are rare.”

The Apple I computer was the first personal computer to come fully wired and ready to be programmed. Until Jobs and Woz´s little invention, computers had to be assembled after purchase and used buttons and switches as an interface.

The Apple I was built to be completely ready to program from the beginning. All a user needed to get started was a keyboard, television and a power source. Woz was able to make 50 of these to sell to a local computing store, The Byte Shop as well as making another 50 for friends and an additional 100 to stock their retail operations for a while.

According to the item description: “The interface of circuitry and software that Woz created enabled users to type letters with ℠a human-typable keyboard instead of a stupid, cryptic front panel with a bunch of lights and switches,´ as he explained to the Homebrew Computer Club. Even so, it was sold without a keyboard, monitor, case, or power supply. An exceptionally rare, working example with original Apple cassette interface, operation manuals and a rare BASIC Users´ Manual. It is thought that fewer than 50 Apple I Computers survive, with only 6 known to be in working condition.”

The identities of the new owners of the Apple I and the Steve Jobs memo are unknown.