The Apple-1 computer, born in 1976 of the computing genius of Steve Wozniak and the marketing drive of Steve Jobs, launched Apple Computer, a company that would define an industry and become the largest corporation in the world. What began as the attempt by two friends to design and build a microprocessor became the creation of the first personal computer, ultimately changing life around the globe.
After introducing their new creation to a small group of like-minded friends at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, California, Jobs and Wozniak were able to secure an order for 50 computers from Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop, a small local retail outlet. The Apple-1 systems were sold without a casing, power supply, keyboard or monitor, but offered a pre-assembled motherboard, something that put them far ahead of the competing self-assembly kits of the day.
AUCTIONThe finest in 18th century decorative arts from the Exceptional Sale on 9 JulyRead more
After landing their order from the Byte Shop, Jobs and Wozniak scrambled to find cash for the necessary parts, selling their own property (a VW van and HP-65 calculator, respectively) to finance the operation. Working furiously from the Jobs household, spread through the garage, living room and even a bedroom, the young men and their families and friends hand-built the motherboards for the Byte Shop order and an additional small quantity to be sold directly to friends and members of the Homebrew Computer Club. Approximately 200 Apple-1s were built, but only a quarter of those still exist.
Following their success with the Apple-1, Jobs and Wozniak quickly created the much more advanced Apple-II, first sold on June 10, 1977 (and in production, with improvements, until 1993). They officially discontinued the Apple-1 by October 1977, offering discounts and trade-ins to encourage all Apple-1 owners to return their machines, which were destroyed.
SPECIAL FEATUREA documentary on Spitfire P9374, offered in the Exceptional SaleRead more
Of those Apple-1s that survived fewer and fewer examples remain in private hands. Fifteen extant examples are in public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of Art, Washington D.C. and 12 other museums of technology or science worldwide. This example, known as the Ricketts Apple-1 after its first owner Charles Ricketts, is the only known surviving Apple-1 documented to have been sold directly by Steve Jobs. Ricketts paid Jobs $600. Thirty eight years later, this model realised $365,000 in the Exceptional Sale in New York in November 2014.
This July’s Exceptional Sale in London will see more historic objects with remarkable provenance go under the hammer. These include Napoleon Bonaparte’s bicorne hat and Spitfire P9374, one of only two original Mk. 1 Spitfires to still be flying. In addition, the Exceptional Sale will feature outstanding sculpture and masterpieces of European furniture and decorative arts.
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