Old Apple I Computer Sells To Mysterious Internet Bidder For $630,000

By Alexandra Burlacu | Dec 16, 2012 10:52 AM EST

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One of the first Apple computers ever built recently went up for auction and sold for a whopping €491,868 (roughly $630,000).

The Apple I (or Apple 1) computer in question, one of roughly 200 machines that were hand-built by Steve Wosniak, now belongs to a mysterious Internet bidder who wished to remain anonymous.

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German technical-antiquities specialist Auction Team Breker listed the machine for auction late last month, expecting to sell it for between €120,000 and €200,000 ($150,000 - $250,000).

A Sotheby's auction back in June in New York had set the previous record price for an Apple I machine - $374,000, as computer historian David Greelish reported on the Classic Computing blog.

Why the great difference between the previous record price and the new one? First of all, as customary in Apple's early days, some of the components used in the system were signed by Wosniak himself, so it's an autographed machine. Moreover, unlike some of the other Apple I systems that went up for auction, this particular unit was fully functional, and reportedly in great condition.

On the other hand, while signatures and mint condition do make the device valuable, such a whopping bid is still surprising considering that systems of this caliber are not very rare. Some collectors who keep an eye on such auctions actually own multiple Apple I computers.

Lonnie Mimms from Roswell, Georgia, for instance, owns two of Apple's first production computers. One of the machines is still in working condition, though with replacement components, and the other has all its original parts, but is no longer functional. Experts estimate that only six or so Apple I systems are still in working condition today.

The Apple I launched in 1976 for a $666.66 price tag without keyboard, housing, display and power supply. Taking inflation into account, that amount equates to roughly $2,700 in today's money, which would be enough to buy a nifty custom gaming system.

Nevertheless, tech antiquities are tech antiquities, and those who happen to have an original Apple computer collecting dust in their basement could actually be sitting on a small fortune. More than half a million dollars, to be more precise.

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