Bonhams has billed it as the most iconic item to be offered in their History of Science auction on October 22, an Apple-1 computer in working order. The hand-built board is one of the 50 hand-built for the ByteShop by Steve Wozniak in the summer of 1976. The computers sold for $666.66 when first offered. Now Bonhams estimates that this lot could go for between $300,000-500,000. This would not be the first time an Apple-1 has fetched a high price. In the years following the death of Steve Jobs, prices for vintage Apple collectibles have risen sharply. The record for Apple-1 was set by German auction house Breker in 2013 when an Apple-1 with a letter from Steve Jobs to the owner sold for $671,400 in 2013.
The Apple-1 has earned its place in Silicon Valley lore as the humble beginnings of what became one of the world’s most recognized brands. This particular example comes from the family of John Anderson, founder of the Cincinnati AppleSiders, an early Mac User group. He acquired it circa 1980 and kept it under glass since 1989. There are only about 15 Apple-1s which have been successfully operated since 2000. This one was booted up in August of 2014 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen and is in its original condition with no modifications to the motherboard. Cohen declared it one of the best examples of a working early Apple-1 board that he has ever seen. The lot includes ephemera from the Cincinnati AppleSiders including their first newsletter “Poke-Apple” from February of 1979 and a video recording of Steve Wozniak’s keynote speech at the 1980 “Applevention.”
The director of the fine books and manuscripts department at Bonhams in New York, Christina Geiger, said, “It is a great privilege to be selling this Apple-1 at auction. It has exceptional provenance and condition. Moreover, it will be the first Apple-1 to be publicly exhibited for auction in the Bay Area. It is very gratifying to think of this computer returning to within 40 miles of its birthplace.” The Apple-1 will be on preview at Bonhams San Francisco from September 19-21.