Rare working Apple-1 to go on auction block this month

Thought to be one of only six operational original Apple computers in existence, the Apple-1 is expected to fetch as much as $392,000.

A working Apple-1 from 1976 is expected to fetch nearly $400,000 later this month. Breker

An operational Apple-1 will go on the auction block later this month, and the rare computer is expected to fetch as much as $392,000.

The 37-year-old machine -- thought to be one of only six in working condition -- is expected to sell for between $261,000 and $392,000 at the current exchange rate, according to German auctioneer Breker, which is conducting the sale. As impressive as that range may sound, it's far off the record mark of $640,000 set last December for Apple's first production computer.

Constructed in 1976, the Apple-1 is one of only 200 produced. British auction house Sotheby's estimates that only 50 still exist.

In a time when most personal computers were sold as self-assembly kits, the Apple-1 broke new ground as the first personal computer sold with a fully assembled motherboard. However, at a retail price of $666.66, the Apple-1 didn't include a casing, power supply, keyboard, or monitor. A cassette storage option could be purchased for an additional $72.

The lot up for auction on May 25 includes the original owner's manual as well as a letter signed by Steve Jobs to original owner Fred Hatfield in which the late Apple co-founder offers to exchange the Apple-1 for an Apple 4K II for an additional $400. The back of the circuit board also bears the "Woz" mark of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who built the Apple-1 in Jobs' parents' garage.

Early Apple machines have become a recent favorite among vintage computer collectors. While Breker sold another Apple-1 last December for a record $640,000, another Apple-1 sold for $374,500 at Sotheby's last June.

About the author

Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. Before joining CNET News in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.


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