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Working Apple I motherboard sells for $375K, Steve Jobs Atari letter for $28K

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Auction house Sotheby's on Friday sold two rare pieces of Apple history in a functioning 1976 version of the company's first motherboard and an unrelated note written by Apple co-founder brought Steve Jobs from his time at Atari.

Initially estimated to sell for between $120,000 to $180,000, the Apple I motherboard auction brought in $374,500 to more than double Sotheby's high-side sale price while Jobs' note managed $27,500 to beat its estimate by over $12,000.

An anonymous phone bidder won the lot after a heated battle with an absentee party represented by the auctioneer.

Only 200 copies of the Apple I, originally called the Apple Computer 1, were made and Sotheby's believes that Friday's lot is one of six known working models of the approximately 50 that survived. Built by co-founder Steve Wozniak, the Apple I was sold to company friends and through vendors for $666.66 in 1979 without keyboard, monitor or power supply. The lack of a case prompted a multitude of homemade enclosures crafted from wood and other interesting materials.

From the auction catalog:

"The Apple Computer. A truly complete microcomputer system on a single PC board." When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs presented the Apple I Computer to the Homebrew Computer Club in 1976, it was dismissed by everyone but Paul Terrell, the owner of a chain of stores called Byte Shop. Terrell ordered 50 computers for $500 apiece, insisting that the circuit boards come fully assembled rather than as DIY kits similar to the Altair, and Jobs and Woz managed to produce the requisite computers in 30 days. They continued production, immediately creating 50 additional Apple I's to sell to friends and an additional 100 to sell through vendors, at a retail price of $666.66, a number that garnered complaints among conservative Christians, but provided a lucrative 33% markup.

As the first ready-made personal computer, the Apple I signaled a new age in which computing became accessible to the masses. The interface of circuitry and software that Woz created enabled users to type letters with "a humantypable keyboard instead of a stupid, cryptic front panel with a bunch of lights and switches," as he explained to the Homebrew Computer Club


Apple I
Apple I motherboard sold for $374,500. | Source: Sotheby's


Included with the motherboard was the Apple I Cassette Interface with manual, the computer's Operation Manual with eight circuit diagrams and a Preliminary Apple BASIC Users Manual with warranty information.

Jobs Note
Steve Jobs' Atari note sold for $27,500. | Source: Sotheby's


The partially-handwritten letter from a 19-year-old Steve Jobs dates back to when the tech guru worked for Atari in 1974 and is in regards to the company's World Cup soccer game. While most of the note is typed and contains technical improvement suggestions, Jobs stamped the bottom of the manuscript with the "All-One Farm Design" name in homage to the commune he frequented at the time as well as his home address and the Buddhist mantra gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdi which translates to "Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha."
post #2 of 22

Interesting that it says Palo Alto Ca. The Apple 1 was released April 1 1976. Apple Computer Incorporated January 3, 1977, in Cupertino, California.

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post #3 of 22

And some people think Mac Pros are expensive.

post #4 of 22

So, who actually bought it?  I'll bet they take it home and it doesn't work.  Wouldn't that be a bummer.

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

So, who actually bought it?  I'll bet they take it home and it doesn't work.  Wouldn't that be a bummer.

 

Maybe AppleCare will still cover it.  ;)

post #6 of 22

Talk about an Apple Tax

post #7 of 22
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Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post

Maybe AppleCare will still cover it.  ;)

 

They still have refurbs, I'm sure. 

post #8 of 22
So Micheal Dell bought it and I hear they are already going to release their first machines copied from it. I guess we know what Microsoft's big announcement is next week!
post #9 of 22

i dont get how people pay so much for complete crap just because its part of history... sheesh

post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by doh123 View Post

i dont get how people pay so much for complete crap just because its part of history... sheesh

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess you're not very sentimental. Or maybe you have eidetic memory and are annoyed by the thought of physical reminders of the past.

Originally posted by Marvin

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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

So, who actually bought it?  I'll bet they take it home and it doesn't work.  Wouldn't that be a bummer.

The article states it's still functioning.
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post #12 of 22
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Originally Posted by Mike Fix View Post

And some people think Mac Pros are expensive.


LOL. Yup, Apple only makes pretty and pricey computers :)

post #13 of 22
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Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess you're not very sentimental. Or maybe you have eidetic memory and are annoyed by the thought of physical reminders of the past.

 

Aren't we all physical reminders of the past?

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamIIGS View Post

So Micheal Dell bought it and I hear they are already going to release their first machines copied from it. I guess we know what Microsoft's big announcement is next week!

 

It was Samsung :)

post #15 of 22

So this is an Apple I motherboard. Apple I wasn't a great seller, was it?  What changed from Apple I to Apple II for it to become a bestseller?

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

So this is an Apple I motherboard. Apple I wasn't a great seller, was it?  What changed from Apple I to Apple II for it to become a bestseller?

I'm not completely conversant with the history, but my understanding is that the Apple II was a complete computer rather than just a motherboard (like the Apple I). Apparently, most people didn't want to have to build a case and power supply and then assemble a computer for themselves.
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post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

So this is an Apple I motherboard. Apple I wasn't a great seller, was it?  What changed from Apple I to Apple II for it to become a bestseller?

It was their first attempt I think.  The article above said they only made 200 of them, so yeah they didn't sell many at all.

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

So this is an Apple I motherboard. Apple I wasn't a great seller, was it?  What changed from Apple I to Apple II for it to become a bestseller?

Apple II came with the keyboard and case.

Apple I you had to supply and make your own, respectively.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #19 of 22

I suppose this only makes sense for a generation raised with computers. Our outdated tech is now collectible.

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post #20 of 22

Apple would make much more money going back to that model...

post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

So this is an Apple I motherboard. Apple I wasn't a great seller, was it?  What changed from Apple I to Apple II for it to become a bestseller?

 

Yeah it was a good seller by the standards of the day. Was good enough to make a sequel and get the attention of investors.

 

While the Apple I was a complete motherboard, the Apple II was a complete computer with case, keyboard, supported color, game controller, D.O.S., BASIC, supported floppy disks, etc.

 

Anyone remember programming back in those days? Oh the fun of BASIC and then learning how much faster your program could run when you rewrote it in assembly!!!

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

Yeah it was a good seller by the standards of the day. Was good enough to make a sequel and get the attention of investors.

While the Apple I was a complete motherboard, the Apple II was a complete computer with case, keyboard, supported color, game controller, D.O.S., BASIC, supported floppy disks, etc.

Anyone remember programming back in those days? Oh the fun of BASIC and then learning how much faster your program could run when you rewrote it in assembly!!!

I only did Basic. I moved to a different platform before getting into Assembly. For computing, my school had gone the IBM PC route. I didn't get into assembly until I programmed microcontrollers.
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