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Apple-1 wooden computer possibly hand-built by Steve Jobs could be yours

The first computer ever built by Apple is back on sale. The Apple-1, crafted by Steve Jobs' own fair hand in 1976, goes under the hammer in London this month.

The first computer ever built by Apple is back on sale this month. An example of the Apple-1, first sold in 1976, is about to go under the hammer in London.

The hand-built Apple-1 goes up for auction at Christie's on 23 November. Expected to fetch around £150,000, it's the only computer that makes the MacBook Air look affordable.

The Apple-1 was designed to 'just work' straight out of the box, just like Apple's modern products. It's a far cry from modern computers though, consisting of printed circuit boards for which you had to provide your own monitor or keyboard. An original letter from Steve Jobs is included in the auction, filled with advice on which hardware to go for, straight from the horse's mouth.

The model going on sale this month still has the original manuals, which is pretty impressive -- we've usually lost bumf, chargers and cables in the time it takes to open a new gadget and pass it round the Crave team.

The Apple-1 is encased in wood, and packs a 1MHz MOS 6502 CPU. It has a paltry 8K memory and outputs monochrome 280x192-pixel resolution. It could read and write to cassette.

In the days before the iPod, iPad and iPhone, Apple consisted of teenage geeks Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The two Steves hand-built the computers in Jobs' garage in Los Altos, California. 200 models were sold between July 1976 and September 1977 sold back in 1976, for $666.66. Here's the Hollywood version, as told in the film The Pirates of Silicon Valley:

Crave wasn't even born in 1976, but we like to think we'd have had a wood-encased Apple-1 on our desk. Apple Macs first arrived in Blighty in 1984, when Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams was the first to purchase one, closely followed by Stephen Fry.

This week, the inventor of the world's first laptop was honoured with the 2010 Prince Philip Designers Prize lifetime achievement award. British designer Bill Moggridge devised the Grid Compass computer in 1979. It went on sale in 1982 and was used by the US military and aboard the Space Shuttle.

What was your first computer? Share your computing memories in the comments.

Image credit: Smithsonian