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Laptops

3G Apple MacBook Pro on sale on eBay

An eBay user got more than he bargained for when he bought a 15-inch MacBook Pro and discovered it was a prototype with 3G mobile Internet.

A top-secret Apple prototype of a 3G MacBook Pro has escaped. An eBay user got more than he bargained for when he bought the 15-inch MacBook Pro for spare parts -- and discovered it was a prototype of a laptop that could connect to the Internet over 3G while out and about, just like an iPad or iPhone.

North Carolina-based eBay seller Abhw752579 bought the laptop on Craigslist from a former Apple engineer who was selling the laptop for parts.

The Apple chap had been using the prototype for software developing and apparently never realised the significance of the computer, spotted instantly by the proud new owner when he cracked open the MacBook and noticed the motherboard is red as opposed to the usual blue. Another clue is the whacking great aerial on the side.

The 3G aerial slides out to connect with the Internet via the phone network. It's marked with 'Tyco Proto / #006', perhaps suggesting there were at least six experimental prototypes. Inside is a standard-sized SIM card slot, so this 2007 model predates Apple's contrary use of pint-sized micro SIM. The software recognises the antenna, but sadly the owner hasn't been able to get it to actually connect to the Web over 3G.

Apart from the 3G function, it's a normal 15-inch MacBook Pro running OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard.

Apple has toyed with assorted different ways of putting 3G into the MacBook. One patent involved using the iPhone 4's antenna -- because the iPhone 4's antenna was its best bit. Another patent reveals a detachable magnetic aerial. Apple does love a magnet, what with the clever MagSafe power cable and the iPad Smart Cover.

Fancy owning a piece of Apple history? The eBay listing runs until Thursday. Apple history doesn't come cheap, though: it's no £133,000 Apple-1 but the bid currently stands at £6,135.