The Apple I computer with original motherboard sold for $372,500 recently at Bonhams New York.
WHAT: Apple I was the first preassembled computer to come to market. Because it was revolutionary and the first of its kind, it stands to reason that the machine would become collectible. In fact, it has become so desirable that an Apple I complete with original board sold in December 2017 at Bonhams for $372,500.
The computer revolution launched in June 1975 when Steve Wozniak hit a character on a keyboard and saw it appear instantly on the screen before him. After “Woz” introduced his model consisting of a keyboard and a television screen to a computer club in Palo Alto, the very next day Steve Jobs negotiated an order from a nearby computer shop for 50 assembled motherboards at $500 each.
MORE: Apple lore tells how friends and family scrambled to fill the order. The first batch of 50 is said to have lacked the maker’s name, as is the case with this motherboard.
Bonhams proved provenance on the unit back to the original owner, who rented time on the machine to play games in a computer store. After Apple II launched in 1977, he bought an Apple II motherboard, plus the now obsolete and “dirt cheap” Apple I, a dolled-up model having a walnut case fitted with a keyboard.
SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: When first sold in July 1976, price on the Apple I was $666.66. About 200 units were made, and all but 25 sold before the year was over.
HOT TIP: Only 66 surviving Apple I computers are known to exist, and they are tracked in a registry. Surviving machines are rare because those traded in for Apple II computers were destroyed by Jobs.
BOTTOM LINE: The lot sold high because it is historic and everything a computer collector craves. Original, in top condition with excellent provenance and — most significantly — an original board in superior condition, it is the real deal.