Two collectors helped drive the bidding for a rare functioning Apple 1 that finally sold for $374,500. That’s double what auction house Sotheby’s had given as the high estimate. The winning bid for the Apple 1 and two original operating manuals was placed by telephone; the victorious bidder has not been named.
Only 50 of the original Apple 1 models are believed to still exist and of those, only six are said to be in working order. The first Apple computer originally sold for $666.66 as an assembled motherboard; it came without a monitor, keyboard, case or power supply and ran the BASIC operating system.
The Apple 1 was created by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and was launched after a successful demonstration of the product to the Homebrew Computer Club in 1976. Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop ordered 50 of the units, which Wozniak hand built; over 200 ended up being constructed.
According to Sotheby’s, Wozniak told the club members he created an interface that allowed users to type letters, “instead of a stupid, cryptic font panel and a bunch of lights and switches.”
It was that idea for different kind of interface that launched a computing revolution. Fast-forward to today’s generation and this motherboard looks painfully simple, but the price ultimately paid for it by the collector speaks volumes as to its place in history.