At Christie’s in London, one of Apple’s first computers was bought by Italian businessman Marco Boglione for £133,250
Back in 1976, the Apple-1 sold for $666.66 (£420). It featured 8KB RAM and a cassette board connector, pitiful in comparison to the hardware and power of descendants like the iMac but, thanks to the Apple-1’s place in computing history, one of the machines sold for £133,250 at Christie’s in London.
Marco Boglione, described by Associated Press as an “Italian businessman and private collector”, reportedly made the winning bid by phone.
This particular Apple-1 came with an undated, typed letter signed by one ‘Steven Jobs’, deemed by Christie’s to be “commercially rare”.
Alan Turing, The Enigma Machine And Apple-1
Jobs’ Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak made an appearance at the auction. “Today my heart went out as I got to see things auctioned off like the Turing documents and the Enigma machine – and the Apple-1,” he said, according to Associated Press. “It really was an important step, [even though] I didn’t feel that way when I designed it.”
Apple produced roughly 200 Apple-1 units. Sellam Ismail, the software collections manager for the Computer History Museum, estimated in 2005 that fewer than 50 of them still exist. Christie’s had originally estimated bidding for the Apple-1 at between £100,000 and £150,000.
The auctioned Apple-1 came in its original shipping box, with the shipping label and invoice listing Electric City Radio Supply, Great Falls, Montana. A letter from Apple Technical Support addresses Frank Anderson, who, Christie’s suggested in its pre-auction material, could have been Electric City Radio Supply’s original owner. The machine included a heat sink, keyboard interface, three capacitors, and a 6502 microprocessor.
“Because the motherboard was completely preassembled, it represented a major step forward in comparison with the competing self-assembly kits of the day,” read Christie’s note. “The first Apple-1s were dispatched from the garage of Steve Jobs’ parents’ house – the return address on the original packing present here.”
The Apple-1’s marketplace presence was short lived. In April 1977, nine months after the computer’s release, Apple introduced the Apple II which, befitting its position as a next-generation machine, came in an actual plastic case and featured a keyboard.
Factoring-in 34 years’ worth of inflation, the Apple-1’s original £420 price translates to £1,639.46 today. That would just about buy you three top-of-the-line iPads. For what Boglione bid to acquire the computer, you could purchase 240 of them. For some collectors, though, the chance to own a small part of tech history is (nearly) priceless.