Working Apple-1 Computer Handmade by Steve Wozniak Goes on Auction Next Month

Rare piece of computing history to fetch $180,000 as starting point

After selling the original Apple Computer contract signed by Steve Jobs for a staggering $1.6 million, auction house Sotheby's will now be putting up a rare, working Apple-1 computer assembled by none other than Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and friend of the late Steve Jobs.

“Operational Apple Computer I. An Apple I motherboard, labeled on obverse Apple Computer I, Palo Alto, CA. Copyright 1976. Includes circuit board with four rows A-D, and columns 1-18; MOS Technologies 6502 microprocessor, labeled MCS 6502 3776; video terminal; keyboard interface; 8K bytes RAM in 16-pin 4K memory chips; 4 power supplies including 3 capacitors; firmware in PROMS (A1, A2); low-profile sockets on all integrated circuits; breadboard; heatsink; expansion connector; cassette board connector. (15 1/8 x 9 in.; 385 x 234 mm)”

Going on auction for $180,000 / €143.000, this rare piece of Apple history is expected to fetch two, or even three times more than the original starting price. One reason is that it’s actually operational. Only six such systems have survived to this day, according to Sotheby’s.

Mike Willegal, an engineer with a major technology company, says “That’s probably a pretty good estimate of original Apple-1s that have been operated in the last four or five years.”

Willegal has identified and indexed a total of 41 Apple-1 computers. He told Macworld that “If a unit hasn’t been powered up in more than five or 10 years, it probably shouldn’t be counted as currently working. These old computers tend to fail over time, even if they are just sitting on a shelf,” he said.

“This unit works, and is fairly complete with documentation and original cassette interface, so it should draw a pretty good sum,” said Willegal. “[But] it doesn’t have a receipt with Jobs signature, so I don’t see it reaching the Christie’s number.”

The auction will be held in New York on June 15th, 2012, at 10:00 AM.

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