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Geek alert: Apple I motherboard circa 1976 sells for $374,500

June 15, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • Sotheby's sold an original Apple 1 Computer for $374,500.
Sotheby's sold an original Apple 1 Computer for $374,500. (Sotheby's )

Apple stock is just off its all-time high, but the market for old Apple computers has never been better.

On Friday, Sotheby's auction house sold a functioning Apple I computer -- the original Apple computer, hand-built in 1976 by Steve Wozniak.

Sotheby's was hoping to get between $120,000 and $180,000 for the extremely rare item. Instead, it sold for $374,500.

Back in 1976, you could have picked up one of these babies for $666.66.

According to Sotheby's, the computer is one of fewer than 50 Apple I computers to survive, and one of just six that are known to be in working condition.

A note in the Sotheby's catalog details how Wozniak and late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs presented the Apple I computer to the Homebrew Computer Club in 1976.

They were dismissed by almost everyone except Paul Terrell, proprietor of a chain of stores called the Byte Shop. He ordered 50 of the computers for $500 apiece, and sold them at a 33% markup.

That year Jobs and Wozniak produced 50 more of the computers to sell to friends, and an additional 100 to sell through vendors.

The lucky (and very wealthy) winner of the Sotheby's auction will receive an Apple I motherboard (buyers of the original Apple computer needed to supply their own keyboard, monitor, case, and power supply).

He or she will also get the original user manuals and some marketing materials.

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