Computer

One of the first Apple computers sold for $400,000: NPR

One of the first Apple computers sold for $400,000: NPR

A 1986 Apple-1 computer and Panasonic video monitor sold for $400,000 on Tuesday.

John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.


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John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.


A 1986 Apple-1 computer and Panasonic video monitor sold for $400,000 on Tuesday.

John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.

The first Apple-1 computers sold for $666.66 in 1976. Forty-five years later, a still working computer has sold for $400,000.

On Tuesday, auctioneers John Moran of Monrovia, Calif., auctioned off one of 200 Apple-1 computers designed, built and tested by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, with help from Patty Jobs and Daniel Kottke.

“What we have with the Apple-1 is sort of the holy grail of vintage computer collecting,” says Apple and technology historian Corey Cohen.

Computer up for auction is known as “Chaffey College” Apple-1 because its original owner was a professor at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He ended up selling the computer to a college student in 1977 so he could buy an Apple-II computer.

The student, who remains unidentified, has kept the computer until now.

Apple-1s were motherboards, with cases, keyboards, and monitors sold separately. The unit includes a case set up by The Byte Shop in Mountain View, CA, which was the first store to sell Apple products.

An auction house sold an Apple-1 computer for $400,000. The model marked the beginning of the personal computer industry.

Keith Berson/John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.


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Keith Berson/John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.


An auction house sold an Apple-1 computer for $400,000. The model marked the beginning of the personal computer industry.

Keith Berson/John Moran Auctioneers, Inc.

The case is made of koa wood, one of only six known koa wood cases, according to the auction house. Koa wood, native to Hawaii, was plentiful in the 1970s but has become scarcer and more expensive due to cattle grazing and logging.

Apple-1 marked the beginning of the personal computer industry

The Apple-1 was the first Apple product to be sold. It marked the beginning of the personal computer industry.

It was the first personal computer that came with a warranty. “It was guaranteed to work,” Cohen says. “Before that, there were other computers. They were kits. They mostly didn’t work when you got them.”

They were originally sold for $666.66. “While it sounds pretty ominous, 666 is because Steve Wozniak likes to repeat numbers,” Cohen said. Morning edition. “Even his own phone number at the time had a repeating number.”

He said that this specific machine not only represents the beginning of Apple, but the ingenuity of Wozniak and Jobs and their vision “where a computer is not something to be afraid of, a computer is something that can be a part of your life and can help improve your life.”

“It took a long time, I think, for people to understand this idea,” he says. “But it’s something that, you know, helps people feel closer to that progress.”

Tien Le is an intern at NPR’s News Desk. Barry Gordemer and Jessica Green produced the audio version of this story.