Latest Apple-1 auction fetches surprisingly low $355,500

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in General Discussion
At a June 15 Christie's auction, a customized Apple-1 sold for $355,500 -- skewing toward the low end of house estimates, and below all other auctions for working Apple-1 computers.




Christie's had estimated the computer's worth between $300,000 and $500,000. By contrast, winning bids for other Apple-1s in 2013 and 2014 reached $671,400 and $905,000, respectively. In 1976 Apple sold the product for $666.66.

It's not clear why the latest auction didn't generate as much interest as past sales, but it may be that bidders wanted a "pure" machine. The displayed unit was upgraded with a green case, an extra 8 kilobytes of RAM, and a 1702 EPROM chip, letting it run programs immediately after booting instead of waiting for them to enter RAM.




Only about 200 Apple-1s were made, first assembled by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and a few others in Jobs's family home. Buyers still had to find other key components on their own, such as a case, monitor, keyboard, and power supply -- in that era of personal computing however, it was still rare to get a pre-assembled motherboard.

The company quickly dropped the machine after launching the Apple II in 1977, and since then most Apple-1s have been destroyed or stopped working on their own. Some of the surviving ones are in public collections, making the sale of a working, privately-owned system extremely rare.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 400member
    It seems like there is an auction for one of these every couple of weeks.
    jdw
  • Reply 2 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,464member
    Troll response: Apple 1 auction prices falling. Apple is no longer innovating. Apple is doomed. Surface rulez!
    netroxEsquireCatsbaconstangradarthekatpscooter63jony0
  • Reply 3 of 13
    thomprthompr Posts: 1,511member

    It's not clear why the latest auction didn't generate as much interest as past sales, but it may be that bidders wanted a "pure" machine. The displayed unit was upgraded with a green case, an extra 8 kilobytes of RAM, and a 1702 EPROM chip, letting it run programs immediately after booting instead of waiting for them to enter RAM.

    I think it's fairly clear that the modification of a vintage machine would decrease its value at auction.
    mwhiterandominternetpersonpscooter63
  • Reply 4 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,381member
    lkrupp said:
    Troll response: Apple 1 auction prices falling. Apple is no longer innovating. Apple is doomed. Surface rulez!
    I wonder what the iFixit repairability score would be. They gave the Surface laptop a 0/10 because it's all soldered and glue. The only Apple product to get a 0/10 sis the AirPod, which makes sense considering its size.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Soli said:
    lkrupp said:
    Troll response: Apple 1 auction prices falling. Apple is no longer innovating. Apple is doomed. Surface rulez!
    I wonder what the iFixit repairability score would be. They gave the Surface laptop a 0/10 because it's all soldered and glue. The only Apple product to get a 0/10 sis the AirPod, which makes sense considering its size.
    Despite how easy this machine is to modify, iFixit would not give it a perfect 10 because it doesn't involve their overpriced tools and suppliers, sorry I mean "requires soldering and non-standard parts". Let's be real: iFixit misrepresent the notion of repairing devices. Beyond a cracked screen, a consumer has no chance of diagnosing the source of hardware-borne malfunctions. Electronic devices are so well built that any act which causes an integrated circuit to malfunction has likely broken a range of components, writing off the device entirely. The idea of peeling open such a device to start swapping out components is utter nonsense.
    baconstangpscooter63jony0
  • Reply 6 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 942member
    Isn't it obvious?

    Apple upgraded hardware across the board at WWDC. 

    The Apple 1 falls further and further behind the performance curve every time Apple updates current hardware. 
    williamhjony0
  • Reply 7 of 13
    polymniapolymnia Posts: 942member
    Soli said:
    lkrupp said:
    Troll response: Apple 1 auction prices falling. Apple is no longer innovating. Apple is doomed. Surface rulez!
    I wonder what the iFixit repairability score would be. They gave the Surface laptop a 0/10 because it's all soldered and glue. The only Apple product to get a 0/10 sis the AirPod, which makes sense considering its size.
    Despite how easy this machine is to modify, iFixit would not give it a perfect 10 because it doesn't involve their overpriced tools and suppliers, sorry I mean "requires soldering and non-standard parts". Let's be real: iFixit misrepresent the notion of repairing devices. Beyond a cracked screen, a consumer has no chance of diagnosing the source of hardware-borne malfunctions. Electronic devices are so well built that any act which causes an integrated circuit to malfunction has likely broken a range of components, writing off the device entirely. The idea of peeling open such a device to start swapping out components is utter nonsense.
    If you base your value/longevity/serviceability decision on the assessment of a niche tool manufacturer, you get what you deserve. 
  • Reply 8 of 13
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 557member
    Supply and demand.  One of these becoming available 3 times a year has saturated the market.
    polymnia
  • Reply 9 of 13
    The cassette interface was replaced too soon. We hardly new ye. Now it's all USB-C and TB3.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 13
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,193member
    An extra 8kb of RAM? That's ridiculous, I can't even imagine what could possibly need that much RAM. 
  • Reply 11 of 13
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,151moderator
    The world moves forward at a faster and faster clip and I think more people are looking forward more  than backward as a result.  We've become more fascinated with the future than the past, discarding the old at a rate that doesn't let us own it long enough to form an emotional bond.  At least that's my theory.  
  • Reply 12 of 13
    If these things fall a little more, I can actually afford one!
  • Reply 13 of 13
    This board went for about what I thought it would go for since we have no pictures of the underside to see if it is reworked/wired or has damage.  The front is highly modified.  Just like a classic car, the unmolested versions go for much more (i.e. Henry ford unit for $900k+).  There is a reason the estimates were between 300 and 500k for this board.   Most Apple-1 were modified back in the day since they were intended for hobbyists, so this is a typical example of an Apple-1.  

    As for frequency, there tends to be about 3 per year that come up for auction, however the better condition unmodified units don't come for auction often.  About once a year if we are lucky.  Even at the rate of 3 per year there is a market for these high price collectibles which are really now in the art and manuscript collecting market so I don't expect prices to drop but to maintain or grow over time as Apple really isn't making more of these and there is a fixed number that survive.  

    Btw. I'm not speaking uninformed on this.  I am the person who does a lot of work on the Apple-1 systems for museums and auction houses around the world.  I'm just a very frequent AppleInsider visitor and felt I needed to comment on this story.  

    Cheers,
    Corey



    edited June 2017
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