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Prototype 3G MacBook buyer gets parts back

After having to give a prototype Apple notebook back to the company last month, the buyer has gotten back some of the parts he bought and installed to get it running.

The parts Frega had purchased to get the prototype machine up and running have been returned.
Some of the parts Frega had purchased to get the prototype machine running have been returned.

The North Carolina man who unknowingly purchased what turned out to be a prototype Apple notebook computer earlier this year has had some of the parts he added to the machine returned roughly a month after the company reclaimed it.

Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who had purchased the machine from someone on Craigslist for parts to fuel his repair business, today told CNET that Apple has shipped back a handful of parts he used to get the machine back into working condition.

That list includes a hard drive, notebook battery, and two sticks of RAM, which arrived in an otherwise unmarked FedEx box at Frega's house earlier this week.

Frega says those parts were returned after he made multiple requests with Apple's security team to get them back, following a private investigator coming to his house to recover the computer for Apple on September 1.

The prototype notebook became an item of intense interest both on the Web and briefly on eBay after Frega put the device up for sale on the auction site, pitching it as an "unreleased prototype." Beneath the notebook's metal frame was a slot for a SIM card and on the lid was an external antenna, suggesting Apple was testing built-in cellular networking in its notebook computers right around the time the first iPhones were hitting store shelves.

The device, whose design never went to market, went on to fetch bids in excess of $70,000 before being pulled down at Apple's request, later leading Apple to contact Frega for its return. Nonetheless, Frega says Apple never supplied him with any proof that the machine belonged to the company, saying only that the serial number was theirs, and that the hardware was Apple's property.

Frega said he's now considering legal action against the original seller for the cost of the notebook, plus the legal fees he incurred. That includes going to small claims court over an unhappy buyer who purchased it from him after he repaired the device to working condition, as well as his legal counsel when trying to broker a possible sale of the device after Apple's take down of the eBay auction. All told, Frega estimates that amount to be around $400.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.