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Early Apple-1 Computer Prototype Used by Steve Jobs Goes Up for Auction

An early Apple-1 Computer prototype is currently up for auction, and is expected to fetch over $500,000.

The device is now on sale(Opens in a new window) at RR Auction, where early bids have reached past $200,000. What makes this particular model so special is that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs used it to demo the capabilities of the Apple-1 back in 1976.

In particular, Jobs showed the prototype to Paul Terrell, the owner of the Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, one of the first computer stores in the world. The Byte Shop would then go on to sell an early batch of Apple-1 Computers.

The computer

(Credit: RR Auction)

RR Auction said it was able to confirm the system’s authenticity by looking at old Polaroid photos taken by Terrell of the machine back in 1976, which were later published.(Opens in a new window) on Time Magazine. An Apple computer historian Corey Cohen(Opens in a new window) also verifies the legitimacy of the machine.

Additionally, the model up for auction has a unique “Apple Computer A” name engraved on the printed circuit board, instead of the standard Apple Computer 1 labeling.

photo comparison

(Credit: RR Auction)

“This prototype lives in the ‘Apple Garage(Opens in a new window)‘ property for many years before Steve Jobs gave it to its current owner about 30 years ago,” said RR Auction.

However, the Apple-1 prototype was not in the best condition. Even before it was delivered, Jobs removed several components, including the microprocessor, from the device, which was likely repurposed for other Apple-1 Computers, RR Auction said.

The system’s printed circuit board then broke at one point, “resulting in a crack emanating from the adjacent power supply area.” Unfortunately, the separated piece, containing the bright “Sprague Atom capacitors” was thrown away.

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The Apple-1 Computers are so rare that the company only made about 200 of them. However, the system being sold at RR Auction promises to hold more historical significance than others, despite its poor condition.

“Another important characteristic of this prototype is that it appears to have been hand-sold by Steve Wozniak, whose unique ‘three-handed’ technique—wire in one hand, soldering iron in the other, and solder held in his mouth— evident from the tight ‘bubbles’ formed in the soldered connections,” added RR Auction.

The auction for the computer ends on August 18.

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