"COMPUTER POWER TO THE PEOPLE"
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 of two techie 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.
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. Madly working 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, as carefully documented in the online Apple-1 Registry maintained by Mike Willegal.
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. 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 twelve other museums of technology or science worldwide. Recent auction sales include those sold in First Bytes, an online Christie’s sale, 24 June - 9 July 2013, lot 2; one sold Breker, Cologne, 25 May 2013 ($671,400); and one sold Bonham’s, New York, 22 October 2014 ($905,000, to The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan).
THE RICKETTS APPLE-1
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. The computer is housed in a medium blue colored metal box, as originally fitted by Ricketts, and with a period Datanetics keyboard in a wooden housing. Also included is the original Apple-1 Operation Manual. Ricketts saved and mounted the cancelled checks for his purchase, including one from July 27, 1976 made out to Apple Computer by Charles Ricketts for $600, which he later labeled as “Purchased July 1976 from Steve Jobs in his parents' garage in Los Altos” (illustrated above). The Apple-1s retailed by The Byte Shop were priced at $666.66 because of Wozniak’s fascination with repeating digits. How Jobs and Ricketts met is not known, but they lived in the same neighborhood and clearly had an ongoing relationship through the computer. A second cancelled check for $193 from August 5, 1976 is labeled “Software NA Programmed by Steve Jobs August 1976.” Although Jobs is not usually thought of as undertaking much of the programming himself, many accounts of the period place him in the middle of the action, soldering circuits and making crucial adjustment for close customers, as in this case. The endorsement stamps on both checks show that they were cashed by Apple Computer Co. immediately after being written, highlighting the fledgling company’s need for cash as the young partners struggled to hand-produce their Apple-1s quickly enough to keep up with sales.
STEVE JOBS STANFORD ARCHIVE
Interestingly, the sale of the Ricketts Apple-1 is the only sale of an Apple-1 documented in the Apple Computer archives at Stanford University Libraries. The archives, donated by Steve Jobs to the University in 1996, are titled Apple Computer, Inc Records 1997 to 1998, but actually include material dating to 1976 and earlier, held in approximately five hundred boxes comprising six hundred linear feet of shelf space. The contents are generally in chronological order, with the Ricketts Apple-1 documentation at the very beginning, in Box 1, Folder 2. This Ricketts sale information was used as evidence presented to the City of Los Altos when it designated the Jobs family home and garage at 2066 Crist Drive as a Historic Resource, eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
THE FIRST APPLE
The full history and provenance of the Ricketts Apple-1 is delineated and explored in The First Apple, written by Bob Luther, collector and owner, after he interviewed many old friends of Jobs and Steve Wozniak, most of whom were early employees of Apple. The book traces the path of this unique machine beginning with its sale by Steve Jobs to his neighbor Charles Ricketts. Twenty-two years later Ricketts’s son sold the computer, and soon it entered the collection of dot-com entrepreneur Bruce Waldack, then flush with the $100 million sale of his company DigitalNation. Waldack, an early re-seller of NeXT gear, knew Jobs from the computer world. But sadly Waldack went on to lose his fortune and, after defaulting on his Learjet payments, fled to Argentina. The Ricketts Apple-1 was auctioned at a sheriff’s sale of Waldack’s property in Virginia in 2004, its legacy waiting to be explored by Bob Luther.
The Ricketts Apple-1 is fully operational. It was serviced and started by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen twice in October 2014. Mr. Cohen ran both the standard original software program, Microsoft Basic, and an original Apple-1 Star Trek game in order to test the machine. The start-up process was performed on the campus of the historic Info Age Science History Museum in Wall, New Jersey and documented on video. Only a very small number of the extant Apple-1 computers are successfully operational. The Ricketts Apple-1 sale presents a singularly rare opportunity to acquire an extremely early delivery Apple-1 with fully documented provenance. A video of the computer in operation can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckt0A_sLKeU.
THE ORIGINAL MANUAL
THE FIRST MANUAL ISSUED BY THE APPLE COMPUTER COMPANY. Although not credited in the text, Ronald Wayne is well-known to be its author (and he does receive printed credit for drawing the enclosed schematics). The elder-statesmen of the Jobs-Wozniak-Wayne trio, Wayne drew the first Apple logo that appears on the cover of this pamphlet, drafted their partnership agreement, and wrote the present manual. His original logo symbolically connected the nascent Apple Computer Company to important scientific precedent: Sir Isaac Newton sits beneath an apple tree writing on several loose sheets, the glowing apple of inspiration above him, as if about to fall and spring forth innovation. Wayne also incorporated into his design Wordsworth's homage to Newton from The Prelude: "A Mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought… alone." The backward-looking style of the logo, blending the Enlightment's ideal of science and the Romantic's ideal of expression, could not conceal the overwhelmingly modern import of the simple text it announced.
RARE ON THE MARKET: A very small number of original manuals appear to be extant: of the 11 Apple-1s known to have been sold publicly, only four have been accompanied by the original operating manual, and no sales of individual manuals are recorded in auction records. This constitutes an exceedingly rare opportunity to acquire a foundational document in the history of the digital revolution.